Engagement and Money Conversations

You’re engaged! Congratulations! Have you talked about money yet? Have you realized how your significant other handles money? If you read about Weston and my money upbringings you've realized we aren't exactly the same.
Here's what you need to realize: You aren't going to get married and all your problems be worked out. You and your future spouse stay the same people. You'll actually realize you're pretty stinking selfish and so are they.
I can't express to you the importance of talking about money now. Add some wine or coffee to this conversation and make it enjoyable. You don't need to talk about all of it at once. Money conversations should be continual. Maybe start with both of you talking out your views on money. Sit and look at both of your spending habits. Break it down into categories over the past month or two. Figure out a budget together. You'll both need to give a little (or a lot). Compromise.
Don't be discouraged if you don't agree on it all. You're never going to agree on everything. Marriage is a lot of forgiveness and grace-giving. It's a lot of "I'm sorry" and laying down your own desires for your spouse's. And don't be afraid to ask someone else outside your relationship with some help. Other married couples are a great resource. Use them. Sometimes it's really nice having a third party who won't take either of your sides just because they are friends with one of you more than the other.
Here's some questions to help with the conversation:
  1. What are your financial roles? Who is the main income provider?
  2. Joint or separate accounts?
  3. Who will be responsible for bills? (Who would be better at them?)
  4. What kind of budgeting system will you follow? (Cash, credit, etc…)
  5. What are your financial priorities as a couple? List your top 5 (savings, retirement, travel…)
  6. What is the largest amount of money each person can spend without consulting one another?
Don't assume anything. Unless you've already discussed it, assume you don't know what your significant other's answer will be.
Dave Ramsey has an online system called Every Dollar. There's also You Need a Budget and Mint. And if you do some googling, there's plenty of great excel templates to get you started. I highly recommend You Need a Budget; it's well worth the money.

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