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By Maggie Jenkins
Having a financial conversation before you get married can help bring you and your partner closer together because you’re communicating honestly, solving problems and starting to realistically plan for your future. Plus, it can kickstart an ongoing financial dialogue that can accompany you both throughout your marriage.
But how do you start such an important – and seemingly scary – conversation?
First, set aside a specific time to talk about money so you can both fully concentrate on the task at hand. Second, make sure you have snacks there. (For real. Studies show we’re better at being patient and making good decisions when we’re not hangry.)
Then, follow this “road map” to navigate the most important financial questions to chat about before you tie the knot:
1. Let’s talk about debt: Do you have debt (i.e. student loans, credit cards, car loan)? What’s your schedule for paying it off?
2. Money makin’: How much money do you make and what are all your income sources? Do you both want to have a career? If you want kids, what is your childcare plan? Do you plan to further your education? Do you want to make investments? What is your level of financial risk tolerance (low, medium, high)?
3. Feeling spent: What are your spending habits and what are your spending priorities (i.e., travel, dinners out)? What’s your “financial style”; for example, do you pay bills as soon as you get them or on their due date?
4. Accounting (aka the boring stuff): How will you keep track of your savings and checking accounts? Will you combine accounts? What do you look for in a financial institution? Which financial institution(s) will you use? Will you create a monthly budget? How will you assign/divide financial tasks? Do you need a financial advisor?
5. A penny saved: Do you consider yourself a saver or a spender? How much do you have saved? What are you saving for (emergency fund, your child’s education)? How will you make your money grow? How much money do you need to retire comfortably or put your kids through college?
Maggie Jenkins is the PR and Social Media Specialist at Alliant. She began her career as a journalist for newspapers in Utica, N.Y., Des Moines and Cincinnati before moving to Chicago in 2009. Maggie is a six-time Chicago Marathon finisher and a lifelong creative writer with a passion for comedy. Her mom instilled in her a great sense of fiscal responsibility, and her big sister told her to throw that responsibility out the window every once in a while in the name of life experience. So far, that combination of financial advice has worked out pretty well for her.