Do not add your partner’s name to any debts or add yours to theirs. If this debt was ever delinquent it will damage the credit of the added party. Make a plan to pay debts but keep only the original debtor named on those debts. Be sure to review both of your spending habits and make a plan to avoid excessive debt or any delinquent debt in the future. Planning to pay off a certain amount of debt before taking on any new debt is always a good idea.
Discuss the ages each of you would like to retire, whether you will both remain working if you have children and make sure you each understand the expectations of your partner when it comes to finances. It is important to discuss future possibilities and expectations and not just past and current debts. You each my assume you have the same plans for events that may arise but that may not be the case.
Money is one of the most common argument starters for both newlyweds and couples that have been married for an extended period of time. Being open and honest about finances is a good precedent to set. Choose your battles wisely. It is better to let annoyances like chores and habits slide then to ignore problems with finances. Be sure to discuss any changes as they arise and compromise to find common ground.
Finding common ground will mean learning to save and spend money together. This won’t just be about retirement plans and large purchases. It will trickle down to all spending habits from groceries and eating out to stationery and household supplies. When you go shopping for groceries, learn to talk about the items you both want to buy. One of you may prefer name brands on certain products while the other feels the generic brands are sufficient. One of you may love clipping coupons while the other can’t be bothered. Reach a common point of agreement for the groceries you purchase. Discuss these things before and after a trip to a grocery store and decide what compromises you can each make willingly.
Don’t forget to plan for savings. Emergencies such as car repairs, household repairs and unexpected healthcare expenses can throw even the best planned budgets into chaos if you don’t establish savings. Savings can also help pay for vacations and splurges as long as you always leave something for emergencies.
Discussing finances with your new spouse or spouse to be is one of the most important discussions you will ever have. Be prepared to listen, compromise and allow for change over the years. You will need to have this talk again if you have children, change jobs or experience other life changing events together. Just be flexible and keep each other informed.
Read: Part 1 | Part 2