4 Financial Questions You Should Ask Before (Or Early Into) Marriage

You've covered all the details of the wedding. But what about your money matters?

  • 4. Do you want joint or separate accounts?
  • Whether or not to maintain joint or separate accounts is a personal decision and varies from couple to couple. Some newlyweds opt to keep their finances completely independent, and others choose to co-mingle everything. Still other couples take the hybrid approach (and my recommended strategy) by keeping separate accounts and then having a joint account from which they pay household bills.
  • Talking through this issue, and being upfront about how money from each account is to be managed will help stave off financial infidelity down the road.
  • Admit it: how many times have you spent money or made a purchase and tried to hide it from your significant other? When you have your own checking or savings account, you typically don’t have to ask for “permission” or get your partner’s approval for most purchases. Couples without such an agreement, however, are often plagued by “secret spending”–a phenomenon that can threaten the financial health of the relationship, as well as put up barriers to overall communication.
  • In a recent survey of 327 Americans, commissioned by CESI Debt Solutions, a nonprofit agency dedicated to debt-free living, 73% of married couples said they believe spending more than $100 without telling your spouse is unacceptable. Nevertheless, 80% of those polled admitted that they spend money their spouse doesn’t know about.
  • Obviously, American couples need to do a better job of communicating about finances. That’s why the four questions above are by no means comprehensive. Rather, use them as a good way to jump start what hopefully will become a lifetime of positive communication and healthy dialogue about money matters.

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is a weekly money and finance columnist for BlackEnterprise.com and founder of the free financial advice blog, AskTheMoneyCoach.com. Follow her on Twitter @themoneycoach and see her column every Tuesday on BlackEnterprise.com.

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