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A premarital financial checklist for long-term harmony

Before you tie the knot, ask your partner these questions

Differences over finances is one of the most common issues that lead couples to split up. There is no reason money needs to become a problem if you both go into marriage with your eyes wide open.

This discussion guide is designed to help you talk honestly with your fiancé about the hopes, needs and expectations that will affect your financial life together.

You both should answer each question, so work your way through the checklist methodically. Spending an hour to answer these questions now may save you many hours of disagreement later.

Know your partner

  • What assets and accounts are you bringing into the marriage?
  • What are your debts (including credit cards)?
  • What is your credit score?
  • Do you have any bankruptcies or other negative financial events I should know about?
  • Do you want to create a prenuptial agreement?

Compare spending habits and expectations 

  • Are you a spender or saver?
  • How do you spend discretionary money?
  • What is an acceptable monthly amount to spend on non-essentials?
  • What things do you consider to be “essential” versus “non-essential”?
  • What would you like to do with extra cash (a work bonus or cash wedding gifts, for example)
  • Do you think we should pay off credit card balances each month or carry a balance?
  • Do you want to combine accounts or keep separate accounts?
  • What relationships have you already established with financial professionals?
  • Who will we continue to do business with as a couple?

Define your roles

  • How important is it to you to manage the finances?
  • Who will build and monitor the budget?
  • Who will pay the bills?
  • Who will file the taxes?

Agree on your future 

  • How soon can we accumulate an emergency fund of three (or six) months’ salary?
  • What major purchases should we make within the next two years?
  • How will we save for and finance those purchases?
  • Do we both plan to work during marriage? How long?
  • What is your timeframe for starting a family?
  • When we have a family, will one of us stay home or will both of us continue to work?
  • How much should we contribute annually to retirement savings, 401(k)s and/or IRAs?
  • What are our retirement goals?

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DOFU 8-2017