10 checklist items to discuss with your soon to be spouse before tying the knot

10 checklist items to discuss with your soon to be spouse before tying the knot


When you are in love and have found the right partner, the ceremony has a phrase, “for richer or poorer,” but what does that really mean?  Have you discussed this with your soon to be spouse how you will handle your finances?  What assets and liabilities are you “bringing” to the marriage.  If you understand how you will navigate your financial challenges, this will better prepare you for a stronger financial future together.  The conversation may start out about who will be paying the monthly bills.


 A major contributing factor to divorce is money and communication either about money or how other aspects of your relationship will be addressed.  Trust is a big issue in a marriage and being open about your financial health is important.  Are there debts, spending habit problems, risky investment objectives (margin accounts), bad credit reports that need to be revealed. 


So before you say “I do” a checklist of financial issues should be addressed:


1.  Yearly income.  You’re binding your financial future together, the topic on what you each earn income/wages is important to reveal.  How will bills be paid, what can you afford, will there be an issue if one party makes significantly more in the marriage and wants to spend more.


Discuss “what if” scenarios – what if someone loses their job or want to find a new job?  Is it in your spouse's personality to leave a job before having another one.


2.  Savings.  Are you living paycheck to paycheck.  What expenses are priorities versus luxuries.  How much money will you put aside to an emergency fund, contribute to a retirement plan at work.  How will you invest your money, what is each of your risk tolerances, short and long term goals.


3. Bank accounts.  Will the accounts you own prior to marriage stay in your individual name or will you switch to a joint, what are the implications.  Where will your paychecks be deposited  once you are married, will your paychecks go in one account for family expenses or will some be set aside in another account for individual personal savings and spending.


4.  Debts.  What debts are you bringing to the marriage, student loans, credit card debt, what does it mean and who will pay.  Plans need to be made to reduce the balance of credit card spending and address fiscal responsibility.


5.  Budgeting.  Sit down together to discuss your monthly budget which should include your fixed expenses, rent, utilities, phone, transportation, and your variable expenses of dining out, vacations, clothing etc.  Money should be set aside for emergency reserves (6 months worth of living expenses), and savings (short and long term goals).  You should have a “pay yourself first” attitude by setting money aside from each paycheck when it comes to savings, and you can feel freer to pay for those “extras.”


6.  Work Benefits.  Beneficiaries on life insurance policies, 401k retirement plans  may need to be changed.  (You may want to look into purchasing your own individual life and disability policies.)  Which company has better health care insurance coverage, what are the premiums the employee must contribute…who has the better plan and what is most cost effective.


7.  Credit Score.  This is a helpful tool to either help one party establish credit or work towards improving a low credit score so that future plans for leasing a car or getting a mortgage will be easier.


8.  Children of a prior marriage. How will the disciplining, and financial obligations be handled.


9.  Financial Goals.  What are your short term and long term goals so that money can be set aside or invested.  Are there annual vacations you want to save for, home or cars in your future?  Try to get an idea of what these items may cost so that you can set money aside for when those expenses will be incurred.  This will enable you to come up with a realistic time frame of when your goals can be realized while staying within budget rather than going into debt by spending on impulse. It may be helpful to meet with a financial advisor to help you map out a plan.


10.  The honeymoon and wedding.  How much should be budgeted, who will be paying for these expenses and do you want to use your savings or go into debt for this one day or for the honeymoon. 


11. Other (This section is for you to come up with concerns that need to be questioned or answered)








Before you tie the knot, make sure all your finances are unraveled and revealed to your soon to be spouse. 


Emotional Considerations before marriage


  1. Are you really in love, what do you love about your partner or are you looking to change your partner ?
  2. Why are we getting married?
  3. What are my expectations of marriage?
  4. Are you liked by your soon to be spouse’s friends and family?
  5. Are you a saver or spender?
  6. When you have a disagreement, do you “fight fair?”
  7. Do you want children?
  8. Do you like and enjoy sex?
  9. Is religion a big part of your life?
  10. How well do you communicate with your partner?