When you’ve finally met that special someone it seems you’ve been missing your entire life, you probably feel like there’s nothing in the world that could put a rift between the two of you. But don’t let love cloud your judgement – there are a lot of details and logistics to be handled before you can merge lives, one of the most important being your finances.
It’s unlikely that you discussed finances on your first few dates, or even at all before you decided to get married or move in together. But discrepancies in financial responsibility are one of the most common sources of contention in relationships. Before you and your partner find yourself at odds because of spending issues, take the time to ask and discuss these topics to make sure you’re on the same page
1. Bill Payment
Sharing a home means sharing the home payment, utility payments, and merging several other financial aspects of your life. Before you move in, ask your partner how they manage their bills on their own. Find out if one of you seems to have a better system than the other, and delegate the responsibility of paying the bills to whomever will ensure a timely and full payment.
2. Credit History
If you haven’t yet, pull your credit reports and go over them together. Learn how to read them together if you don’t understand all of the terminology, and identify any negative items on either of your reports. Set goals to improve your scores if necessary, and identify the reasons behind the negative items to prevent any future credit dings in the future. If your partner has some late payments on their own credit report, once your name is tied to their purchases it could be your credit score on the line.
3. Spending Habits
Discuss your spending habits with your partner. Ask how they feel about debt and installment plans, or if they prefer paying up front for most purchases. Notice how they shop – if they are able to set aside items that pop out at them in the store, or if they seem to have no self-control when they see something they want. Kindly discuss this with them and set goals together on how to save for purchases or control spending.
4. Existing Debt
Most people have debt in some form or another. Whether it’s a car payment or student loans, it’s important that you and your partner have a clear understanding of your financial responsibilities before you combine finances. If your partner thinks buying a house comes with getting married, but you’re working hard to pay down student loans and pay off a car first, you could be facing a tough conversation about different expectations once the vows have been said.
Make sure you and your partner are on the same page and ready to face the future hand-in-hand when it comes to your finances. A little planning and budgeting will go a long way in your marriage and relationships, not only for your credit score and financial freedom, but in your ability to problem solve and work together, as well.