How to Discuss Money Questions Before Marriage

Did you and your spouse have “the talk” before getting married? You know the one I mean – the one about personal finances?

Marriage piggy bank

I’m sure you’re thinking “Come on! Where’s the romance?” Nothing’s more unromantic than sitting down to a candlelight dinner with a stack of student loans and credit card statements.
But Canadians do see the value of discussing money. In a poll done by the BMO Wealth Planning Group, a whopping 98 per cent of married couples polled said it was essential for a couple to have similar goals, values and interests when it came to finances.

The problem is most couples do not have meaningful conversations about money before marriage. Of engaged couples polled, the majority had not yet discussed their personal finances and how they would deal with money as a couple. It’s not surprising that BMO’s findings indicated that 25 per cent of married couples argued about money and almost half had very different investing styles than their significant other. The majority wished they had discussed money before getting married.

Picking the right partner is one of the key factors to having financial success. Different strategies are not inherently right or wrong, but they can be incompatible. If one partner dreams of climbing the corporate ladder and spending big bucks while the other favours a quiet, frugal life, it may be hard to find a middle ground where both can be happy.

How to avoid these situations? Have the conversation! There are a few key topics which should be discussed before marriage. This can let couples see if they are on the same page financially.


Household Finances:

  • Will you use a budget?
  • Who will pay the bills?


Banking and Investment Strategies:

  • Will you maintain separate accounts or join your finances?
  • How will you invest for retirement?


Debt:

  • Is one partner bringing any student loans, mortgages or other debt into the marriage?
  • How will any past or future debts be addressed? What is an acceptable use of credit?


Spending Habits:

  • Are you spenders or savers?
  • Do you use credit cards? Do you spend all you make? Do you meet your financial goals?


Lifestyle Goals:

  • What are your priorities?
  • Do you want a large home or luxury car?
  • Do you want to live in the country or downtown?


Family Goals:

  • Do you want children?
  • Will both parents work full-time or will one become a stay-at-home parent?


Financial Goals:

  • When do you want to retire?
  • How much will you save per year?
  • What other financial goals do you have?


Insurance and Wills:

  • What are your needs and current coverage?
  • Do you have a will?


By talking openly and honestly about finances, you can build a strategy for your future. Over time, your interests and goals will most likely change, but that’s OK too. The goal of planning is to give you direction as a couple. Future circumstances and opportunities may change the path you are on, but you’ll have already built a strong foundation and have a good understanding of where you want to go.

As a couple, working together towards a common goal will reduce money-centred conflicts. Focusing on your finances as a team will also bring you closer together. How’s that for romantic?