Engaged? Show me the money.

Family finances can be a tricky subject.  The engagement period is an excellent opportunity to communicate…. communicate… communicate… so that hopefully, a few years down the road,  you won’t be screaming at each other to “show me the money”.

Most couples, once engaged, attend a Discovery Weekend to thresh out potential points of conflict e.g.  how many kids they intend to have,  how they will be raised,  where they will spend Chrismas Day, etc.   I firmly believe that pre-marriage counselling should also include financial planning.  I had an officemate who, upon her engagement, sat down with her fiancé to determine their networth and make a 5-year financial plan.  It’s a great idea which I think I will ask my children to do when it is their turn to settle down and start a family.  

These are conversations which SHOULD take place BEFORE the wedding – doing an ostrich could lead to frustration, fights and power struggles.  Here is a list of questions which all newlyweds should ask themselves and their partners.

1.  What are your assets and liabilities?  In our culture, talking about one’s financial status is generally a taboo subject, but these are important numbers to know.  You need to know if you will be starting your married life in relative financial security or deep in debt.  You cannot stay in denial about the state of your finances, especially when it comes to debt.   The truth will always come out and sometimes it won’t be a pretty sight.  

2.  What is your money history?  Another taboo subject but also necessary.  You need to discuss how you were raised to view money.  How did you become a spender or a saver?  What does money mean to you?  You need to understand each others money habits before determining your future financial goals.

3.  What are your financial goals?  That dream house, European vacation, BMW all come with a pretty hefty price tag.  You should talk about the time-bound steps you’ll be taking to transform those dreams into reality.   Turn this into a yearly exercise. 

4.  How will we manage our finances?  The wedding preparations can be viewed as a stress test which will help you identify “hot spots” which may need to be worked on together.   How do you deal with run-away wedding expenses?  Does your partner get easily blindsided by the pretty flowers and fully beaded gown? 

These questions are meant to be starters to a more meaningful and insightful conversation.  You will certainly learn more about each other in the process.  We’re starting  a bit late but hey, better late than never.  =)

Related Post:
Pre-wedding Due Diligence: A Must!

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Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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