By Dave Stolz, CPA/PFS
Rachel had been married for a few years before she started realizing something was "off" with their finances. The couple seemed to have plenty of money, but she never got a straight answer anytime she asked her husband questions about their money. Finally, she discovered that her husband had been sloppy about paying bills, often procrastinating past the due date! She had always managed her money well, and she was proud that she had earned a good credit score. However, all that was likely to change, as now she was potentially liable for some of his money problems. She wondered, "How could I have been so naive to not ask some questions sooner?"
As the careless bill paying in this hypothetical example illustrates, your clients and their future spouses must discuss their financial positions as an initial step in striving toward shared goals. Having their inaugural "money date" beforehand is preferable to heading to the bank to open joint accounts, only to discover that one partner falls short of meeting the minimum credit standards. If this happens after they are married, it will certainly set the tone for their first money conversation!
It's easy to understand why some engaged couples don't make time to talk about their future finances. If they are feeling insecure about their knowledge of financial matters, it's hard to admit that to their fiancé, so it's easier to just assume things will all work out. Additionally, talking about finances during the excitement of wedding planning might feel like a "buzzkill." Scheduling a money date and combining a fun activity like dinner with the less enjoyable money talk can ease these concerns and make prioritizing the conversation more appealing to both partners.