Seven Financial Tips for Engaged Women

So you’ve met “The one” and now you’re getting married. Congratulations. Your dresses are all picked out, your guests have been invited and your honeymoon is booked. You’re all set. But before you go off into the sunset to begin your new married life, you should take time to talk about your finances. Even if you’re already living together there are some things you need to consider before taking the leap. According to experts, disputes over money account for a significant cause for divorce. Here are seven tips to ensure that you are prepared for your financial future together.

1) Be honest with each other about your finances
Have an open discussion early about your finances and financial goals. Talk about joint accounts and any outstanding debt or major expenses. Are you both able to handle a mortgage together? Do you have student loan or credit card debt?

2) Get to know your partner
Ask lots of questions. “Find out who’s the spender and who’s the saver,” recommends Diane T. Hoyer, a financial advisor with Women Helping Women with Finances. It’s good to know each other’s financial habits and how you each spend money. Do not assume that your partner has no debt or has never filed for bankruptcy. Also, discuss savings goals and retirement goals.

3) Consider opening a joint account
This will help to pay bills associated with shared expenses such as the house, utilities and groceries. Most couples open a checking account and may also have a shared savings account.

4) Maintain a personal savings account
Sure it’s wise to have a joint account for house expenses and bills and childcare. But it’s also important to have access to your own money for personal bills and emergencies. This will ensure that if anything happens you will not be without money. “Having a personal account gives you autonomy and at the same time it won’t jeopardize your joint account,” says Hoyer. She recommends disclosing any and all personal accounts to each other.

5) Consider a pre-nuptial agreement
This is a touchy subject for many people but a necessary topic to discuss before walking down the aisle. It is not necessary for every couple, but could be helpful if you make more money than your partner or have personal assets or are likely to receive a large inheritance. Also, if you’ve been married before or own a business, you want to be able to ensure that your kids from the previous marriage are taken care of and your business will be yours in case of separation. Keep this option open and discuss the pros and cons with your partner.

6) Check your potential partner’s credit report
This might sound like you’re playing detective, but in some cases it is the best way to know your partner’s economic situation, especially if you suspect he is not being upfront. “Credit is tied to so many things,” says Hoyer. A house, car, interest rates. It is important that you are clear on you and your partner’s financial standing.

7) Maintain your own line of credit
Even though you will be married and have joint accounts and shared credit, it’s also important to maintain your own line of credit, especially if you intend to own your own business or in case of a divorce.

Overall, says Hoyer, women need to be more involved in their financial affairs and take responsibility for certain financial aspects of the marriage and educate themselves.

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