Skeletons in the closet: talking finances fefore marriage

You obviously share a great amount of personal and intimate information prior to marriage with the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with.

Here’s something you might have missed and that a recent article in The Wall Street Journal reminds you to discuss: your credit reports.

That might sound like a real anti-romantic clunker at first blush, but a number of financial planners and family law commentators say that being timely and upfront about financially related matters can make a salutary difference in the long run for many marriages.

Put another way, secrecy about such things before and during the early years of marriage can wreak havoc and conflict down the road.

So, states that that WSJ article, “The first thing to do is have an open conversation … in which you both disclose all the skeletons in your financial closets.”

That includes things like student debt, medical bills and outstanding credit card balances. It also includes candid discussion of attitudes toward saving and spending, renting versus buying, budgeting and paying bills and so forth.

Implicit in all that for some couples is the idea that executing a prenuptial agreement might make a great deal of sense, especially in cases where one soon-to-be spouse is bringing little debt and considerable personal assets into a marriage and the other is under a weighty load of debt obligations.

That happens often, in Georgia and across the country. Fidelity Investments estimates that 2013 college graduates who took out student loans owe more than $35,000 on average.

Given the centrality of money matters in marriage, it is certainly a smart move if not an outright imperative for a couple to engage in a candid money-related exchange prior to tying the marital knot.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Financial issues to discuss before you get married,” Daniel Lippman, Sept. 29, 2013

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