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How to Talk About Money Before Tying the Knot

How to Talk About Money Before Tying the Knot

Jenius Bank Team6/20/2023 • Updated 6/5/2024
A couple cheerfully high-fiving after making a money decision.

Chatting about money before walking down the aisle could help put you two on the path to financial success.

Couples who plan to get married have a lot of conversations about the typical preparation: who’s in the wedding party, buffet or plated dinner, where to honeymoon, etc.

But some of the most important conversations to have before walking down the aisle are about your finances and financial planning.

A 2023 Bread Financial study revealed that 64% of couples admit to being financially incompatible and 44% wish they had more similar financial mindsets to their partners.1

Just as you determined your compatibility in love, you should do the same with your finances.

Let’s look at some of the crucial money conversations you and your partner might want to have about money before you get married.

Key Takeaways

  • Getting to know your partner’s financial situation, goals, and spending habits before you get married could help you both align your goals and set realistic budgets.

  • Exploring your options for managing money as a couple before the big day may help you figure out which steps work best for your needs and your long-term goals.

  • Identifying major purchases and milestones, creating a timeline, and building a budget that supports both your financial goals could lead to more harmonious money management conversations in the future.

Why Financial Planning Before Marriage is Important

Discussing your finances before your wedding day is a great way to make sure you and your future spouse are on the same page. It’s a chance to align your goals, discuss your concerns, and figure out how you want to use money to enrich your lives.

It’s also a way to create a healthy and happy relationship with your money as a newly married couple. And having this conversation may improve your relationship in the following ways.

  • Reduce stress: Openly talking about money may help you understand each other’s financial situations and create a plan to manage money as a team.

  • Help achieve goals: Whether it’s buying a house, having kids, or planning for retirement, knowing each other’s goals and working toward them together may strengthen your relationship.

  • Create good communication habits: Establishing a habit of discussing finances before getting married may make it easier to continue those dialogs after you tie the knot. Married couples who discuss their money regularly tend to rate their household’s financial health as very good or excellent according to a 2024 Fidelity Investments Survey.2

At Jenius Bank, our team agrees that talking about finances before marriage is a great idea.

“In my first marriage, we didn’t have any financial discussions prior to getting married, and I think we could probably both agree that contributed to some of the issues that ultimately led to our divorce,” says Alison, a Jenius Bank team member.

“In my new relationship, we’re trying to do things differently. I can’t say we’re fully aligned yet, but we are committed to continuing the dialogue to drive better alignment.”

Financial Planning Steps for Couples

Opening up about money may be stressful, even if you’re trying to have that conversation with your soulmate. But the sooner you do before your big day, the better prepared you may be to build a financial plan together.

Here are a few steps you could follow to help you get started on the right track.

Step 1: Talk About Your Individual Finances

Before you dive in and start a discussion on combining finances, take the time to understand where each of you is coming from. Discuss your personal financial situations in as much detail as possible.

Some questions you may want to tackle include the following:

  • How much money do you make from your job, side hustles, and investments?

  • How much debt do you have? Are there student loans, mortgages, car loans, or credit cards you need to repay?

  • Do you have any current financial obligations like recurring bills, alimony payments, or child support that you need to continue paying for?

  • What is your credit history like, and have you ever declared bankruptcy?

As you go through these questions, it may be useful to have a copy of your credit reports on hand. Not only could your credit reports help you better understand each other’s finances, but you may also catch errors that could make your scores lower than they should be.

These conversations may feel a bit uncomfortable or overly detailed. But remember that when you get married, most states hold you legally responsible for each other’s debts. Your partner’s credit could impact your ability to get loans and build wealth in the future and working together could mean the difference between achieving financial wellness and just muddling through.

Step 2: Discuss Your Money Values

Just like each of you has a unique personality, you also have unique financial values and preferences. Some questions you may want to ask each other include:

  • What is your money mindset? Do you like assigning a category to every dollar? Is money meant to be spent on experiences or set aside for security? Understanding how each of you views money could help inform how you set up your budget.

  • How do you handle financial emergencies? Do you want to have insurance coverage for various contingencies? Aligning on these decisions before an emergency occurs may help reduce stress in the moment.

  • How do you like to budget? Do you both enjoy keeping track of money? Would you rather use a spreadsheet or have an app? Agreeing on a budgeting method could prevent overspending (and disagreements) down the road.

It’s important to communicate openly and honestly about your individual approaches to money management to build a strong financial foundation for your future together.

Step 3: Explore Long-Term Money Goals

Once you’ve discussed your individual feelings toward money, it’s time to discuss your joint financial future and long-term goals. You and your future spouse may want to ask these questions:

  • Do you want to buy a house in the future?

  • Do you want to have children? If so, how many?

  • When do you want to retire and what does retirement look like to you?

  • Do you want to travel and how often do you want to go on trips?

  • Are you happy working for a company, or do you want to start your own business?

It’s great to dream big but try to build your dreams together. Doing so may help you avoid conflicts about spending. Once you know which goals you want to work on together, discuss a timeline for achieving them.

The team at Jenius Bank agrees. Erinn, a member of our legal team says, “Discuss in advance what are realistic purchases with your finances. This way, you don’t end up having to argue over why buying a yacht isn’t in the budget.”

Step 4: Determine Your Merging Philosophy

Now that you’ve got a handle on your current finances and your future goals, it’s time to discuss what a merged financial journey could look like.

When it comes to merging your finances, there are a few questions you may want to discuss, including:

  • How will we split expenses? You may choose to each cover specific expenses or combine your money and have a joint account that you use to pay all the bills.

  • How will we budget our money? Creating a joint budget may help you handle your expenses and create a plan to achieve your future goals together.

  • How will we manage our assets? If one or both of you come into your marriage with assets, such as a car or home, discuss whether you plan to add the other person as a co-owner. If you are the type to plan for all scenarios, you could discuss how these assets and joint purchases would be allocated in the event of a divorce (not the desired outcome of course). In fact, you may also find a prenup useful. Quick tip: check how your state defines ownership of assets for married couples, as each state has different definitions.

  • Should we keep our debt separate or make it joint? Did you know 7 in 10 adults enter marriage with some form of debt?3 If you’re bringing debt into your marriage, be sure to talk about plans for paying it off.

Merging your finances doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing scenario, but it’s important to have these conversations early on to help avoid potential conflict down the road.

Opening Joint Bank Accounts May Be a Good Option

Merging money looks different for every couple, and you should choose a system that works best for you. A 2022 APA study found that couples who pool their finances tend to feel more satisfied in their relationships.4

There are three main approaches people take when it comes to combining bank accounts.



Potential Pros

Potential Cons

Entirely Combined

Both partners put money into one bank account and use it to pay bills.

Convenience of paying bills and tracking spending all from one account.

Partners must be willing to share everything; if they separate, it may be difficult to divide.

Partially Combined/Partially Separate

Each partner has their own bank account as well as a shared account.

Convenience of paying joint bills and tracking joint spending from one account. Partners could retain autonomy over some of their funds.

Requires planning to determine how much each person contributes to the joint account.

Entirely Separate

Each partner has their own bank account.

Each person to exercises autonomy over their money.

Requires planning to help ensure expenses and savings are split equitably.

While each approach has its pros and cons, it’s up to you and your partner to decide what works best for you.

For example, some couples may choose to maintain separate bank accounts because they have vastly different spending habits and having a joint account could cause additional stress. On the other hand, some couples may prefer to have all their money in one place.

For one Jenius Bank team member:

“We talked about being super transparent with each other about our finances and that we’d be fully invested in the ‘all of the money is our money’ approach,” says Dan, another Jenius Bank team member. “Eighteen years later, it’s still the same!”

And if you do decide to combine your finances once you’re married, you may determine that you have more than just your bank accounts to consider… so be sure to be transparent about all aspects of your finances in your early, pre-marriage discussions.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to marriage and money, it’s important to have an open line of communication and to be honest with each other.

Discussing money may be hard, but the payoff is that your financial goals could be better aligned for a long and happy married life.

LifestyleMoney Management