Three-quarters of Skimm’rs are in serious relationships. And it’s engagement season: some say winter is when 40% of all proposals happen. Do we hear wedding bells?
You’re about to give me some advice, aren’t you?
How’d you know. Before you start daydreaming about gowns and wedding hashtags, make sure to ask your SO these six important financial questions. About the big day, and beyond.
1. Do you have any debt?
Getting hitched means hitching yourself to each other’s debt. Depending on your circumstances and state, you could be held legally responsible for debt your partner racked up before you tied the knot. And you’re a team, so you’re working toward becoming debt-free together. (Plus, getting married can change how much you owe on any student loans month-to-month.)
Come clean about what you owe and what kind of debt it is. Car loans? Credit cards? While you’re at it, talk about your credit scores, which can impact your ability to make big purchases, like a home.
2. How much do you have saved?
When you’re talking for-richer-or-for-poorer, it’s not prying. It’s being smart and proactive. Ask each other how much you’ve saved, where that savings is, and whether you’re bringing any other financial assets into the marriage.
Also chat about your saving habits. Maybe one of you stashes away a set amount every month. And the other saves only after expenses are paid. If you need help finding a groove that works for both of you, hit up John Hancock. Their financial advisors can put you on the right path.
3. Will we share finances?
Three-quarters of married couples share at least one bank account. But marriage doesn’t always mean saying 'I do' to fully-merged finances. Discuss the pros and cons of the different options, and remember there are a lot of ways to make it work. Joint accounts? A mix of shared and separate? If you’ve been together for a while, chances are you’ve shared some expenses (hello, transferring money back and forth for monthly bills). But now’s the time to talk about sharing (or not) in more official terms.
4. What big financial goals do you have for the next five years?
Do you daydream about buying a home? Taking a dream trip around the world? Bulking up your retirement accounts? Goals are fluid. They’ll probably change. But take stock of each other’s priorities to get on the same page.
Then, you can come up with plans for getting there. And while some of your goals might seem far away, John Hancock advisors can help you start working towards them. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.
5. What are our wedding day-of must-haves?
Just because it’s possible to spend a fortune on your big day (thank you, wedding industry), doesn’t mean you should. So write down your must-haves and have your partner do the same. If your lists don’t match up (you’re already pinning floral arrangements and your SO wants that 10-piece band), identify one priority each.
6. How much can we really spend on our wedding?
One in three couples goes over budget. Yikes. If there’s a chance you guys are footing part of the bill, talk about what you can honestly afford.
That’s a bit subjective, but take a look at what you’ve got saved and what your monthly expenses look like. And don’t forget to factor in those long term goals you’ve already talked about. Want to buy a house next year? That’ll affect what you can spend on the big day. Reminder: a wedding is not an emergency, so do not dip into your Oh sh*t fund.
You don’t have to nail down all of the specifics. But it makes for a way less stressful engagement if you’ve discussed priorities before anyone gets down on one knee. Welcome to a lifetime of compromises.
Tackling a few big financial questions ahead of time is a key to wedded bliss. And a John Hancock financial advisor can help. Don’t let money issues get in the way of your happily ever after.
Subscribe to Skimm Money
Your source for the biggest financial headlines and trends, and how they affect your wallet.