As a CFP® practitioner, I frequently meet with couples that, prior to our work together, have failed to discuss what money means to each of them. When couples fail to share their feelings and beliefs when it comes to money, it leads to misunderstandings and conflict. In addition, partners may become defensive when they feel that their spouse’s perspective is directly opposed to theirs. As a result, couples may become polarized, which puts their relationship at risk.
Instead, you should discuss the role of money in your lives before marriage, purchasing assets together, or commingling assets. If you are recently married, have that conversation now! Also, it is unwise to merge finances right away. By having a frank conversation about money, you are taking an important step toward building a financial future based on mutual respect.
We utilize two financial communication exercises, Money Mind® and Honest Conversations®, to promote better communication and understanding about how each individual makes financial decisions. The exercises provide insight to know yourself, your biases, and how it affects and impacts all of your financial and emotional decisions. Awareness allows you to manage those biases and make better financial decisions with your partner. We provide also tools and tips to communicate with each type of Money Mind®. www.honestconversations.com
Items to consider discussing before marriage:
- Discuss money before purchasing assets together or commingling assets.
- Pay attention to your partner’s money habits while dating.
- Beliefs and habits around money need to align before marriage: Ensuring you are both on the same page and have full disclosure of each other’s financial status will help avoid misunderstandings and conflict.
- Offer full disclosure: Know and share each other’s financial situations before getting married. Arguments over money are one of the leading causes of divorce.
- If you are blending families, it is even more important to determine in advance how costs will be allocated (education, housing, vacations, etc.) and often times a prenuptial agreement should be considered. It is important to discuss if bank accounts will be shared or not—if they remain separate, how will costs be divided?
- Prenups have bad connotation; however, it can facilitate a frank and open discussion regarding each financial situation so there are no surprises. It also provides framework for how to organize a family’s finances, protect each partner from the other’s debts, and define assets that belong to each of you prior to marriage which could protect claims on assets that would otherwise pass to children from previous marriages and protects ownership in your business should the marriage dissolve.