There are a few major conversations couples should (and need) to have before walking down the aisle and committing to marriage, but perhaps the most important discussion of all is finances.
According to a 2016 CIBC report, only one-third of Canadian couples about to get married or enter a common-law relationship actually have a serious talk about finances – yet 99 per cent say it’s an important talk every couple should have.
“Money is basically one of the main reasons why couples fight,” Lama Farran, certified money coach, says. “It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into. The thing is a lot of people these days come into a marriage with debt and that causes a lot of issues because your expectations may be that your partner will help you, but without having a very honest conversation about it, you’re entering the marriage with the wrong expectations.”
And if couples neglect to have this conversation before their big day, then that only leads to financial and relationship uncertainty and more arguing in the future, says Farran.
“Money becomes a major source of stress and conflict later on and is one of the major reasons people get divorced,” Farran says. “You have to talk about it from the beginning – even if there are no issues – or have healthy money habits. You have to be proactive about it.”
So to help give couples an idea of where their money conversation should be heading, here are five financial talking points every marrying couple should know about their partner and discuss ahead of their nuptials.
What are their expectations when it comes to handling money within the relationship?
“If you’re going into a relationship with debt, your expectations may be that your partner will help you but if you didn’t have an honest conversation about it then you might have the wrong expectations,” Farran explains. “Know what the other person values. One person might value material things – like clothing and nice restaurants – and the other might not care about all that and see more value in using that money to travel. If those values between you and your partner are not the same, then you have to decide how you’re going to manage that.”
Their feelings toward money, and how they formed
“Sometimes couples come together and they haven’t been taught the same money lessons as kids,” Farran says. “You have one person who’s a spender and another who’s a saver and then it turns into a bit of a disaster because they don’t have the same concept of saving and spending. So it’s important to get to know your partner from a money perspective and get to know what kind of person they are with money. How is their relationship with money? What kind of money lessons have they learned from their parents – and are you OK with that? If not, have a conversation before moving in together or getting married.”
Their history with money
“Find out how they have dealt with money their whole life and what they like to spend their money on,” Farran says. “What’s important to them? What do they value?”
Another thing to consider is if your partner is a saver or spender and if it matches up with your money beliefs. If they don’t, then some type of common ground will have to be reached with how the money is handled in the future.
What kind of debt do they have and how do they the plan to pay it off
“It’s important to figure out if you’re going to pay this on your own, or if you’re [going to pay it] as a couple,” Farran explains. “Also some couples keep their finances together, others keep them separate, so you need to know how you’re going to handle your finances – is it your money for yourself, or will you be putting everything together?”
Know their income and their savings
“I believe in having 100 per cent transparency before – whether it’s debt or assets or income,” Farran says. “There has to be that transparency so you both can start going down the road on a good and honest note. You’re going to have to work together and be on the same financial page and it has to start from day one and knowing all the financial aspects of your partner is going to help you get on the same financial page.”