If you both end up having good credit, great—set the date! If one of you has terrible credit, and the other doesn’t run away screaming, then at least you have enough going for you to come to some agreement for how you will handle your finances going forward, with all of the cards on the table. (Nothing like a previously unmentioned bankruptcy filing when it comes to ending a honeymoon period.) In any case, at least you know where you stand before you say “I do,” and her credit impacts your credit and vice versa. My favorite personal account of how a marriage can benefit from drawing a line in the sand about financial matters before setting a wedding date is a book I often recommend by Marilyn “The Money Lady” Logan, I Can’t Afford to Marry You: A Guide to Understanding the True Cost of Love.
4. Co-signing on loans, cell phone accounts, credit cards, for anyone you are not legally married to. I don’t care how fine she is, how much you want to provide for her and her/your kids, how much more money you make than she does. Don’t do it. Once you co-sign, you’re just as much on the hook for paying off the financial obligation as she is, and your credit is just as much on the line. Better to loan her the money she needs or just buy her what she wants. Even if you never see that money again, at least your financial reputation and credit report will remain intact after she dumps you for that NBA prospect. (Oops. Did I say that last part out loud? Sorry.)
5. Equating money with your manhood. Having more money does not make you more of a man; the lack of money should not emasculate you. Understanding and accepting this fact will go a long way toward avoiding stupid mistakes common for us guys, such as spending money we don’t have, investing in things we don’t understand and trying to impress others with possessions and “bling” of depreciating value, instead of investing in appreciating assets and adopting a strategy of disciplined savings and investing.