Before tying the knot, it’s essential to get to know your future spouse financially as well as romantically. Here are five things everyone should do before combining finances.
- Assess each other’s money habits. It’s OK that you are different, but you want to figure out if you are so different that you can’t stand each other. Couples can learn more about each other’s spending habits by taking a money attitude quiz or asking about each other’s family and past.
- Check those credit reports: “You owe it to your partner to come clean and share the good, the bad and the ugly,” Financial Life Planner’s founder, Cynthia Fick, says. It’s not being nosy or rude, because this can become your financial life. Besides paying attention to your partner’s credit score, look at your partner’s 401(k), IRAs and other accounts to get the whole picture.
- Calculate your combined cash flow: Knowing how much is coming in vs. how much is going out after combining finances helps you understand if you are making enough to live together. Discuss if you have more than enough, what are you going to do with it. Couples should sit together and put all the numbers into a cash-flow calculator.
- Compare your values: Not everyone’s needs and wants are the same. Your money values show what you want to focus your time, energy and money on. Whether you want a big house, vacations or an early retirement affects your financial decisions. Know what is most important to your partner in life so that you can make sure that you are close to being on the same page financially.
- Conduct a background check: Run a background check to see your future spouse has a record. “It is sad we need to, but it’s a good thing to do,” Fick says. “Just like no one wants to write a will, no one wants to do it. But once you are done, you can move on and don’t need to worry about it.”
Read Cynthia Fick’s original article here on USA Today.