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Here Comes the Guide: How to Have the Marriage and Money Talk

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May 15, 2017
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These days, engagements come with many different timelines and expectations, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for couples to plan their financial future together.

If you’re about to be wed, now’s the time to have the marriage and money talk—among the most important conversations the two of you will have as you embark on this lifelong journey together.

The Tell-All Talk Begins with Synchronizing Financial Priorities

But how to start? Many financial planners agree that setting aside the time to have an honest and open discussion about your finances is a crucial first step. Transparency about both spouses’ financial situations is imperative to building a financial future together. Talk to each other about how much money you each make at your jobs and elsewhere, what other outside forces or obligations you are tied to, and what your financial aspirations are going forward.

That meeting of the minds also should be a tell-all on how you spend money. Some of us are savers; some are spenders. And according to a recent TD Ameritrade study, "Do Financial Opposites Attract", savers prefer to married to another saver. When the two of you come to terms with your “money personalities,” creating and managing your financial life plan may become an easier task.

If you find yourself with a polar-opposite type, say you’re a saver and your spouse is a spender, you may want to consider assigning clear roles when it comes to money management. Perhaps the saver manages longer-term investments and the spender manages monthly bills to ensure balance and clarity is struck for both parties. Most importantly, plan regular check-ins with one another where saving progress is discussed and large purchases and investment decisions are made together.

Premarital Financial Prepping

After you’ve had the initial tell-all money talk and have discussed your “money personalities”, drill down to more specific topics in your premarital financial conversation. Consider the following ideas to jump-start your conversation.

DISCUSS YOUR GOALS. Talk about your long-term as well as your short-term goals. Discuss how much you have already saved for retirement and how you will build your retirement savings together. Also cover short-term goals and priorities like saving for a down payment on a house, taking a vacation together, or saving for a new car.

ALIGN YOUR INVESTMENTS. Choose investments that support your short- and long-term investing goals, as well as the proper time frames, risk tolerance, and asset allocation to help you pursue your investing objectives. A complimentary goal planning session with a TD Ameritrade Financial Consultant is a great way for you to get started with an actionable plan for your future.

CREATE A BUDGET. Establish a budget by determining what your combined assets, expenses, and debt are and use this this as a guide to decide how much can be allocated to spending and saving after all necessary expenses and loan payments are covered.

SET UP ACCOUNTS. It’s important to decide on whether you will combine all or some accounts, or keep them separate. Discuss if and how you will divide bill payments, living expenses, and entertainment costs. If you have children from a previous marriage, consider costs for their continued care and needs and whether they'll be managed from your individual or joint account.

ESTABLISH AN EMERGENCY FUND. You should also have an emergency fund in place for those unexpected expenses that may pop up from time to time. The general rule of thumb is to have enough cash in your emergency fund to cover three-to-six months of expenses.

TACKLE DEBT. If either you or your spouse have outstanding student loans, an auto loan, or revolving credit, consider placing a priority on paying off the debt as quickly as possible to reduce interest payments and increase your ability to save for your future.

PUT YOUR SAVINGS ON AUTOPILOT. Automatic deposits are an easy way for you to commit to saving toward your goals, such as a down payment for a new home, a dream vacation, or your long-range future in retirement.

Download PDF: Postnuptial Financial To-Do List

From "I Do" to To-Do

First comes love, then comes marriage, and finally comes the post-marriage to-do list. And no, we’re not just talking about those thank you notes you need to write.

It can be difficult for newlyweds returning from honeymoon bliss and a whirlwind of pre-wedding planning to sit down with yet another to-do list; however, this Postnuptial Financial To-Do List is an easy checklist you can follow to ensure you are taking the proper financial steps at the beginning of your marriage. 

Now, enjoy the marriage journey together!

Hands-On Goal Planning

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