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Last night, I had a reader contact me and ask a very poignant question. He asked if his family member should discuss finances with her potential future husband before getting engaged. She didn’t think it was necessary until after engagement, and he said they should discuss “money, budgets, life goals, etc. now and not wait until a ring is exchanged.”
I totally agreed.
Here was my response to him:
Sorry to hear about that.
My wife and I discussed money while dating, and I believe it’s important to go over details of one’s financial situation, plans for the future, priorities in life and short and long term goals BEFORE getting engaged.
Engagement is just there for planning the marriage, so you shouldn’t say “YES” to someone who hasn’t fully disclosed who they are totally. And that includes finances.
I would say you should NOT combine finances before marriage, but absolutely discuss them. The telling question would be “Why not”?
If there’s something to hide, or if she’s embarrassed, she can show how mature he is in talking about all of these details now. If she can’t talk about it now, I don’t think she is emotionally ready for the HUGE commitment that marriage is.
I apologize if that comes off harsh, it’s certainly not meant to be. I just know that when I was in a bad financial place, I was DEFINITELY not mature enough to handle marriage. Having been married over 5 years, I can say that ANYTHING kept secret before marriage becomes a WAY bigger deal afterwards.
Thanks for reaching out, I hope I was of some help. Let me know if you have any further questions at all.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Since we are all different people with many different views on life, I’d like to know your thoughts on this situation? Do you think they should be talking about money before they take the next step toward marriage?
And I want to know from you engaged and married folk what you ACTUALLY DID before getting engaged. Did you go into ALL THE NITTY GRITTY of your finances, or just a general overview….or maybe nothing at all?!
I’d love to hear from you all! I’ll be putting the best responses into this post 🙂
Awesome Reader Comments
A New York Times article that there are 4 categories of questions all serious couples should ask each other. I’m paraphrasing:
1. How has your family / financial past affect the way you think about money?
2. What is your credit score / credit history?
3. Who has the control of bills / investing on a day-to-day and long-term basis? How do we share that control if that’s what we want?
4. How rich/affluent do we want to be? What kind of career sacrifices or risks much one or both of us undertake to achieve that desired level of affluence?
Absolutely this should be discussed. As a currently engaged individual I would have never considered proposing to my fiancée if we hadn’t discussed and been on the same page financially. In fact, we weren’t on the same page as we both have very different views on investing and saving for the future. She is extremely conservative (invest in savings accounts and CDs only), while I am investment driven (P2P lending, stocks, real estate). Prior to moving forward in our relationship we specifically discussed and worked out our differences in a manner that both of us could work with and be happy. Not worth the future battles if that wasn’t the case.
Emily from Evolving PF:
I don’t think we necessarily showed one another our Mint accounts, but he knew about the debt I was paying off and I knew he was living below his means enough to be piling up savings. You can discern a lot about someone’s finances between knowing their income (which we did – we showed one another our offer letters when we got into grad school) and seeing how they live. For us, it was very organic, but very thorough. We didn’t mock up a joint budget until we were engaged, though.
Kurt from Money Counselor:
My future wife showed me her unbalanced and undecipherable checkbook on our first date! 🙂
iHB note: I don’t recommend this strategy for picking up a spouse, but it seems to have worked on Kurt 😉
I really believe that both parties should be completely transparent about finances before getting engaged, show each other bills, budgets, accounts balances, debt, credit scores, etc. It would be a really good idea to go to a financial planner or counselor as part of this, someone who will sit them down and have them talk through what money means to them, what their financial goals are, how things will change if and/or when they have kids, just everything. You can’t have too much information before deciding to commit your entire life to another person!
And the conversation continued on Twitter as well:
@iHeartBudgets Before our engagement, we laid out all of our assets and debts. We made a plan on how to pay for the wedding & debt 2gether
— Fit is the New Poor (@ChellesCents) October 29, 2013
Keep on sharing this is great stuff here!