Picking out the linens or tableware is only one step of getting ready for marriage. Discussions about finances are a crucial part of preparing for your future. It’s important to talk about money early in the relationship to avoid future issues.

A study from Kansas State University, “Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce,” sheds light on the subject. It found that couples who struggled with money in the beginning of their relationship were more likely to get divorced.

How will finances be combined? Will you combine your accounts or keep them separate?

Couples need to decide how they want to handle all of their finances after marriage. Most choose to combine the accounts or open new joint ones.

Who will pay the bills each month? It’s easier to choose one person to handle bill payments. This avoids confusion and makes responsibility clear in the relationship. The person in charge of bill payments also usually handles tax preparation.

What is your debt? Questions about debt are essential for a healthy financial relationship.

Debt can vary from student loans to credit cards. Understanding how much debt each person has before marriage will affect future decisions. Can you get a mortgage immediately after the wedding? Can you upgrade your living room furniture?

All of these questions depend on how much debt you carry.

What are all of your income sources? The paycheck you see once or twice a month may be a part of a bigger income picture.

To accurately plan your future, you need to know all of the income sources. Are you receiving annuity payments? Do you get royalty checks from a novel you published ten years ago? These details need to be shared with your partner.

"Create the Right Budget for Your Family"

Being open about your income builds trust in a relationship.

Are you considering more education? Student loans are one of the biggest sources of debt. If you or your partner is considering more education, how will you pay for it?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau states that student loan debt has reached $1.2 trillion. It’s estimated the average borrower has $26,000 in student loans. Before you pursue more education, you should consider the impact on your future marriage.

What role do parents play in your finances? Are your parents helping to pay your bills? Or, are you the one helping your parents? These are important questions that affect a couple’s financial plans and decisions.

How would you feel if a parent helped during a difficult financial period? It’s important to set boundaries and repayment terms ahead of time.

How do you plan to save? Questions about saving need to cover investments and retirement. Couples can create a savings plan to reach goals like buying a house or taking an international vacation.

Do you contribute to a retirement plan at work? Do you have other investments? How will combining finances affect your strategy?
What are your financial dreams? It’s important to discuss your overall goals for the future.

Do you want to retire before 50? Do you plan on changing careers? Your financial dreams need to be part of the conversation about the future.

Your partner’s dreams may differ from yours, but you can combine many of them and work together to reach them. Understanding these plans before marriage will help you make better decisions.