Discussing Finances Before Marriage

Married couple walking into their reception

Getting married can be one of the most impactful transitions of your life. Entering a new phase of life with your partner also brings financial changes. And your financial actions—from falling behind on repaying a debt to landing a higher-paying job—will affect your spouse. So before you walk down the aisle and uphold the vow “for richer or for poorer,” take some time to discuss your financial goals, challenges, and plans. From there, New York Life will help you figure out the type of guidance and product solutions you need to get ahead with your marriage and money.

So before you walk down the aisle and uphold the vow 'for richer or for poorer,' take some time to discuss your financial goals, challenges, and plans."

Start the conversation about marriage and finances.

Make sure the topic of finances is on your and your partner’s list of things to discuss before marriage. Money affects every aspect of our lives, but it can be very difficult to talk about it. Many people are raised to believe that discussing money is taboo—and discussions around money can trigger strong emotional reactions. That’s because of how entwined money is with the decisions we make, the dreams we cherish, and how we were brought up. Money is always personal. So make a financial date with your partner to explore this emotional topic. A frank discussion will help you collaborate on your financial goals once you are married.

Answer the tough questions about money.

Before you marry one another, you should know where you’re starting from. Both of you should disclose all the details about your savings, assets, or debt–even if it’s stressful or embarrassing to do so. It’s better for your partner to know everything now than to find out somewhere down the road. If you have debt in your name, it will affect your partner after you are married and impact what you’re able to accomplish as a couple. Write everything down, and create a complete picture of your financial status. 

Once that picture is complete, talk about how you got to where you are. Do you consider yourself a spender or a saver? Do you pay your bills on time, or have you been disorganized about money in the past? Do you contribute to retirement savings? How did your parents handle money when you were growing up, and how does that affect your expectations for your marriage? Answering these questions honestly will make it easier to create a joint plan that works for both of you.

Set your sights on future financial goals.

  • Next, tell each other about your short-, medium-, and long-term financial goals. Are you looking to pay off your student loans?
  • Save for a home?
  • If you’re planning on children, will either of you take time off from your career while your children are small?

Figure out your most important goals, and start planning toward accomplishing them together. For short-term goals, like paying off debt or saving for your wedding, set a monthly savings plan and check on your progress regularly.

Protect your future.

Getting married is the right time to address the practical issues surrounding money, like insurance coverage, to protect the life you’re building together. A term life policy is a cost-effective way to get protection with a guaranteed life insurance benefit for a defined period of time as long as premiums are paid when due. These Guarantees are based upon the claims paying ability of the issuer. New York Life policies provide you with the flexibility to make some adjustments as your life changes. For example, you can convert some or all of your term life to permanent protection with a whole life policy (subject to conditions and limitations). Whole life allows you to build cash value over time to help you supplement your retirement income down the road when the insurance needs decrease or help pay for your kids college tuition.1

Ask for help when you need it.

If talking about money is overwhelming for you or your partner, it doesn’t have to be done in one conversation. Check in with each other, and your finances, on a regular basis to track your spending and savings goals. Make adjustments to your plans when you need to, and be realistic about what you can accomplish.

Know that you don't have to figure out everything on your own

Connect with a New York Life financial professional to find the right solutions for you, your spouse, and your marriage.

1Accessing cash value will reduce the death benefit and available cash surrender value.