The love of your life has just proposed and you’re officially getting ready to start planning your big day. But, as you work out the budget for your wedding, it’s not the worst idea to also bring up a few more questions about how you’ll handle finances in your marriage. We tapped Bola Sokunbi, Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and author of Choosing to Prosper: Triumphing Over Adversity, Breaking Out of Comfort Zones, Achieving Your Life and Money Dreams for the her expertise. Here, six uncomfortable questions you must ask before walking down the aisle.
6 Uncomfortable Money Questions You Should Really Ask Before Getting Married
1. Are we going to have a prenup?
This may be an obvious one, but that doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable. “No one goes into a marriage hoping to get divorced but it's important that you verbalize to your partner whether or not you are OK with signing a prenuptial agreement (and vice versa),” says Sokunbi. Not only does a prenup protect your financial assets, but it gives you the opportunity to lay out who will be financially responsible for what within the marriage. And, if there are children from previous relationships involved, you also get to spell out how they’ll be cared for. With only five percent of couples getting a prenup before getting married, requesting one from your partner can become a source of anxiety and friction. However, Sokunbi says that prenups are not relegated to people with extreme wealth or in other extraordinary financial circumstances. Some people simply get prenups to protect things like valuable family heirlooms.
2. Do you support anyone financially or do you plan to?
Whether that’s paying child support, a parent’s medical bills, sibling’s tuition or charity donations, those are all financial obligations you have to iron out with your S.O. You may not have to contribute to the support, but the fact that part of your partner’s finances are going elsewhere may affect long-term goals like buying a house or investing, says Sokunbi. Just being aware of what percentage of their paycheck is going somewhere else will help you come up with a management plan.
3. Do you expect us to manage our finances jointly or separately?
Again, if you have other individual financial responsibilities, you need to figure out whether you’ll be managing finances with your partner or on your own. “There is no right or wrong answer here,” Sokunbi tells us. “What matters is that you are both on the same page. Will you be paying for things separately and splitting bills 50/50? Will you be splitting bills as a percentage of who earns more? Essentially, when you combine your households, you need to make sure you are both in agreement as it relates to your joint financial obligations.”
4. What do you like to splurge on?
Not that you’re policing anyone, but we can all agree that splurging on a nice spa treatment every once in a while is different than ballin’ out at a fancy restaurant every Friday night, right? So, it’s best to figure out what you and your partner consider to be worthwhile treats. “This question might sound trivial, but it is incredibly important to understand what you each consider a splurge,” Sokunbi advises. “It could be food, travel, shopping, electronics, etc., but you want to ensure it doesn't cause financial strain in your relationship–especially if one of you isn’t on board with that type of splurging.”
5. Could one of us be a stay-at-home parent if we have children?
A biggie if you’re planning on starting a family. After all, just because you’re both working at the moment, it doesn’t mean you plan on doing so forever. “If you plan to have children, it's important to not only discuss how you’ll cover their expenses but also what would happen if one of you prefers to be a stay-at-home parent,” Sokunbi explains. “Figure out how you’ll adjust to living on one income and whether you’ll both be OK with that decision.” If your partner also expects you to be become a stay-at-home parent once you’ve tied the knot, this is the moment to hash that out and talk about things like childcare costs as an alternative.
6. Are you currently/onboard with saving for retirement?
“Retirement might seem a long time away, but not having a savings plan in place means you and your partner will have to work into your old age in order to support your lifestyle,” Sokunbi tells us. “Discuss how and where you plan to save/invest, where you hope to retire, and by what age. This way, you can align your retirement savings goals according to your preferred retirement timeline.” And if neither of you are at a place where you can start putting money towards that 401K yet, you can also figure when’s the best time to begin.