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7 Financial Questions to Ask Your Partner (and a Financial Advisor) Before Getting Married
You and your partner have booked the venue, ordered the cake, and finalized the reception menu. Your big day is just around the corner, and after months of planning, nearly every detail has been finalized. There’s just one last item left to tick off your pre-wedding to-do list: talk about money.
Before you tie the knot and become legally bound financially, it’s crucial to have an in-depth discussion with your partner about your finances. It might not seem like the most romantic way to start your life together—and not nearly as fun as picking out your ring—but ignoring this conversation now can lead to future issues.
If you’re already living together, you may have a good idea about your partner’s financial strengths and weaknesses, but it’s critical for both of you to know the details of each other’s current financial situation. Now is the time to start a dialogue about your individual spending and saving habits, and how you’d like to handle your joint finances moving into the future. The conversation doesn’t need to feel daunting and it can help to consult with a financial advisor so an informed third-party can guide you and your partner objectively. Your wedding day should be one of excitement and joy, so here’s how to ensure that pesky “for richer or poorer” promise isn’t weighing on your mind once you reach the altar.
Questions for Your Partner:
- How much debt do you have?
- What are your financial goals?
- Which accounts are merged, and which kept separate?
- What is your credit score?
- What should I know about your financial past?
Perhaps you already know your partner has significant student loan debt. Find out the exact amount and the timetable for the payments. If your partner has substantial credit card debt that you weren’t aware of, it’s important to talk about it. Together, try to work out plans to reduce that debt as quickly as possible. Remember that once you are married, you become responsible for those debts, too.
If your overall financial goals don’t match up, that’s not necessarily a red flag. Treat it as a conversation to get a deeper understanding of your partner’s view of the future. Perhaps one person wants to start saving to buy a house as soon as possible, while the other is fine with renting. Other long-term goals affecting finances include whether to have kids, plans for retirement and deciding on the best ways to reach those goals, so it pays to have these conversations early on.
Merging bank accounts can be beneficial because it allows both partners to have better visibility over joint financial incomings and outgoings—it’s particularly handy if you’re buying a house and want to keep each other accountable for your savings. On the other hand, merging accounts can lead to a loss of financial independence and can cause headaches if spouses aren’t communicating about their account activity.
A good credit score is essential for taking out a loan, so if your partner has a low score, find out why. It’s important to be able to have a clear and honest discussion, and if needed, a financial advisor can give you tips on raising the score.
This is a loaded question, but you must ask. If a partner has kept a major financial secret from you, such as bankruptcy, that’s an issue that could affect both of you once married.
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Questions for Your Financial Advisor:
- How can we create compatible spending and saving plans?
- We don’t earn the same amount of money. How should we divide household expenses?
If one of you is a spendthrift and the other exceptionally frugal, coming together on a mutual plan for spending and saving is difficult. A financial advisor can put together a plan for compromise.
When one person makes significantly more than other, have a discussion about who pays for what. A financial advisor can come up with an equitable way to ensure both parties feel they are being treated fairly.
Your wedding should be the happiest day of your lives, but ensuring the marriage that follows is a strong and happy one is much more important. To ensure things begin on positive note, don’t shy away for conversations about money. Citadel offers financial planning services for those planning to wed or at any stage of their lives. At Citadel, we help you make the most of your money.