5 financial questions you should ask your partner before getting married

By UK CreditCards.com

Congratulations are in order. You have found the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with. However, before you crack open the bubbly, there are some financial points you should address as soon as possible with your partner.

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Entering into a marriage may seem like it's all about your feelings for one another; but, in reality, it is also a huge financial decision.

As soon as you get engaged, you need to consider your future finances and think about how the two of you handle money as individuals. Understanding your partner's attitude toward spending and debt will be crucial to building a healthy joint financial life.  

Sound intimidating? To help you get started, here are some of the questions you should ask your partner before you walk down the aisle.

1. What is your credit score?
Marrying someone with a poor credit rating won't immediately drag your shining report through the mud. You are still individuals with separate credit accounts and histories.

However, your joint finances going forward will affect your personal credit, including your credit score. This could include buying a house together, co-signing a credit card or getting a joint savers' account.

If your partner has poor financial habits, you will need to know ahead of time so that you can take steps to address it and avoid having your credit be affected. Otherwise, if your partner pays late on a joint loan or racks up significant debt on a credit card you co-signed, you will be on the hook for their mistakes.

Your partner's credit rating could also cause you to pay higher interest rates on joint credit cards or struggle to qualify for larger loans, such as a mortgage, so it pays to be prepared.

Look over each other's credit reports together so you are fully aware of each other's financial history. Then spend some quality time discussing what you found. This will give you valuable insight into your mutual habits and give you a starting point for planning out your future finances.

2. How will we pay for household expenses?
One of the biggest discussions for those planning a life together is how the household expenses and bills will be paid. Each person will have been brought up in a different way by their parents so it is important to not assume you both have the same attitude.

For example, will the responsibility of the bills fall to one half of the couple or will you split them? Will you set up joint accounts for expenses, but keep separate accounts for your own spends?

You will also need to discuss how much will be spent on groceries, clothing and other things. Obviously, you don't need to discuss every single purchase, but major purchases should be mutually agreed to avoid any arguments.

3. Do you have any existing debts?
There is nothing wrong with having existing debt if it is being managed effectively. However, it is important that you are both aware of each other's debt.

Talk openly about what debt you have and consider keeping your previous debts separate, rather than consolidate them. By avoiding mixing your existing debts, you will make life much easier should you separate in the future.

Talking honestly about money could reveal some major differences that the two of you will need to address now, rather than later.     

4. How much do you have saved in a pension?
Preparing for a long future together is important, so you will want to know what attitude your partner has toward saving for retirement. Have they planned for the future? Or do they prefer to live in the moment? 

If you both have separate company pensions, you may want to keep these separate. However, discuss other savings plans you'd like to work on together and create a plan for following through.

5. Do you want children? And if so, how much do you plan to spend on them?
Having kids costs a lot of money. Some have even estimated that each child will set back their parents around £200,000, according to an article in the Guardian. If it were anything else, this would definitely be classed as a major purchase!

Discuss now who will look after the child if you both plan to work full-time, how much you plan to support them through further education, what kind of allowance you expect to give and so on.

It is essential that you talk this through as early as possible so you aren't surprised in the future when your partner refuses to take time off work or wants to send the child off to an expensive private boarding school.

The bottom-line: Planning a date to sit down and discuss your finances is far more important than the colour of the flowers at your wedding or the style of the cake. Talking honestly about money could reveal some major differences that the two of you will need to address now, rather than later. In the long run, you'll be glad you did.  

See related: How to plan a frugal wedding5 love and money tips for newlyweds

Published: 22 November 2011