Financial Topics To Cover With Your Significant Other Before Marriage

Sometimes it feels like the start of the relationship can be the most nerve-wracking and precarious. But as you become closer and start to create a strong bond with your partner, the future can sort of seem like the scarier place instead. If you're with the right person, it's not the "doing life with them" aspect that's scary. The stressful part is the fact that so many aspects go into marriage, having a life together, and being an adult with someone else. As with anything in relationships, whether or not you talk through your feelings and thoughts every step of the way makes or breaks a relationship. But even if you have great communication, there are certain topics that seem taboo or difficult to even start. And one of those is finances.

Maybe you already live together, maybe you don't. Perhaps you've already started sharing expenses or accounts, maybe you want things to be completely separate. Wherever you're at, talking about finances is a must before saying "I do." The Washington Post reported that "68 percent of couples who talk weekly about money say they are happy as opposed to 60 percent of couples who talk every few months and 50 percent who talk even less frequently." Money talks make you a stronger couple. So here are some topics to hit on before your nuptials.


According to The Knot, the only debt that your partner would have to worry about is debt acquired after your wedding. Anything taken on prior to marriage remains your individual responsibility and doesn't affect your partner. However, past debt can paint a good picture of how someone treats money and finances as a whole. The Knot reports that having joint finances and transparency while you're married is important to avoid any surprises. And talking out what their past debt looks like, along with where their credit score is, is a good way to see if you're fit to create a life together or at least willing to make it work.

BetterUp, a personal coaching company, also wrote that debt should be a major conversation, even saying it's the most important. In this conversation, make sure to touch on credit cards, student loans, and scenarios where you could see yourselves taking out a mortgage together. They also have a list of starter questions to ask, like if they have an emergency credit card, if they carry a balance, or if they pay it in full every month.

Money habits

Much like how debt can give you an idea of how they handle credit cards and spending — and you can decide if you like what you see or not — talking about how you use money, in general, is a good topic to cover. Forbes wrote that even though you should have a decent idea of how they spend money, talking more in-depth about splurges or ethics around spending will help you get a clearer picture. They also wrote that this conversation can help you get to know them better by understanding if their beliefs or habits stem from their childhood or their parents.

Talking about money habits also extends to saving money. BetterUp wrote that while there usually is a "spender" and a "saver" in a relationship, you should establish what saving money means for the both of you. A couple of good topic questions they included are, "How much of our income should we save?," "How much of an emergency fund do we need to establish?", and "How do we allocate unexpected windfalls, like prizes, inheritances, or bonuses?"

How you're going to manage finances

As already mentioned, communication and full transparency are always key in a relationship. And it's especially relevant and important when talking about finances. Merging assets and having joint accounts is a big part of that conversation as well, and can aid in the previous points. If you have a joint account and are routinely checking in on credit cards and debt, no financial hit or issue should come as a surprise.

But you don't have to have an "all or nothing" mentality about this. The Knot reported a few different ways you can join accounts. "Some people merge everything into a shared account and some use a designated joint account to pay bills," they wrote. "They then split expenses according to their proportion of the household income. Others choose to keep everything separate." As they reported, only each couple can decide what is best for them. According to The Knot, 74% of women who let their partner handle the family's finances "will have a negative surprise when that money comes back to them," usually because of a death or a divorce. No matter how accounts or divided or who handles what, transparency is truly what will save you from finances being a relationship killer.

Financial goals

If you're in a relationship with someone and it's nearing marriage, you probably have similar views on life and similar goals. But before you head to the altar, you need to really pinpoint your financial goals, individually and as a couple. Forbes writes that "before you start combining assets and financial futures," this conversation needs to happen.

Forbes writes that this talk can include discussion about housing and properties, whether you aim to own a house one day, and when. Talk about what you want to do with the money you're making while married. Do you intend to save most of it, and for what? Do you want to travel a ton? Do you have a bucket list of travel destinations or experiences that require money? Forbes writes that, by the end of this conversation, you should have a better idea of whether merging accounts is right for you or which specific accounts need separation.

Along these lines, The Knot writes that you should also talk about retirement and the future. You should figure out how you both want to save for retirement, what method you're going to use (401k, Roth IRA, etc.), and if one or both of you have employers with retirement benefits like matching 401k. Figure out what you want to do in retirement too, which is the fun part. Do you want to move abroad? When do you want to retire? Making sure you have this outlined can make saving for it easier.


This one might be a no-brainer, but budgeting is important as an adult. And it's even more important to outwardly discuss budgets with your future spouse. BetterUp writes that budgeting does not mean it's time for one partner to dictate to the other how to spend money, even if they make more. This can be "financial manipulation" and is, of course, a red flag, as they stated.

But on a lighter note, figuring out household budgets and how you're going to pay for everyday things in your life seems dull or simple. Yet it's probably the financial conversation you're going to continue having the most throughout your marriage. This is great to get out of the way before you move in together and after. Plus, if you already live together before you get married, this budgeting conversation can go hand-in-hand with financial goals and saving. BetterUp suggests figuring out what everyday purchases are the most important to you and what you want to spend your money on.