Talk About Money Before Getting Engaged

couple holding hands showing an engagement ring

A survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) found that 86 percent of couples say they have talked or plan to talk to their partner about their financial situations before getting married. Here are some steps you can take to build an open dialogue about money matters before you say “I do.”

  1. Wedding. Take a little stress out of your wedding planning by establishing an upfront, mutually agreed upon, and realistic budget for the festivities.
  2. Rings. Before spending your life savings on an engagement ring, discuss a comfortable budget with your partner and stick to it. Feeling a little overwhelmed with where to start your ring search? Here are some tips.
  3. Financial Philosophy. Examine your approach to spending and saving and ask your partner to do the same as a couple. Determine how you will work with each other’s individual styles once you’re married. What are your financial goals, both short and long-term?
  4. Home. Discuss where you will live. Will you rent or buy? How you will pay for a security deposit or down payment? Will this be your first time living together?
  5. Combining Finances. Determine whether you will share a joint bank account or keep your money separate. If maintaining separate accounts, discuss how you will handle the payment of bills and shared expenses. Share any debts you are responsible for, individually and as a couple, and formulate an appropriate payment plan.
  6. Weaknesses. Share your money weaknesses so that you can encourage and support one another. Treating yourself is great once in a while, but set boundaries for what is an acceptable financial splurge.
  7. The In-Laws. Decide how you will handle financial expectations and traditions with family and friends. Do you buy gifts for every member of your family around the holidays? Do your friends take a yearly trip together? Establish expectations and financial boundaries ahead of time.
  8. Kids. Consider whether you and your partner want children. Are you interested in adoption? What is your timeline? How and when will you begin to save for your kids?
  9. Emergencies. Plan for the unexpected. Identify income and determine how much will you keep in an emergency fund. Determine what constitutes an emergency expense. Don’t forget medical emergencies, natural disasters, and potential job loss.
  10. Retirement. Define a long-term savings plan and decide if and how you will invest. Discuss how your retirement saving will change as you reach different stages of life.

An honest discussion about finances is a great first step to building a strong foundation for your marriage. And remember, it’s important to revisit these topics as your lives and circumstances change throughout the years.