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10 Financial Questions to Ask Before Marriage

  May 17

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Getting engaged is such a fun time in a couple’s life. After all, you’ve found the one you love. You’re deep into planning your dream wedding. You’ve registered for all the necessities, the menu is set, and the DJ is booked and ready to give you an epic party during your reception.

You might think you know everything about the person you are about to marry and spend your life with, but do you really?

I’ve been married for over 8 years now, and I still find out new things about my husband. Just the other day, I found out he hates hard boiled eggs. I know, it was a thrilling new revelation.

I always tell new couples, though, that they need to talk about money more intimately before they get married. It’s not a secret that financial strain during a marriage can lead to marriage trouble, so before you tie the knot, sit down with your other half and talk about the ten questions below. I promise you won’t regret it!


1 – First things first, how much debt do you have and where is this debt? This is a big question and an important one. Student loans, car loans, credit card balances or any other debt needs to be out in the open for both of you. It’s good to be aware of debts in case one of you loses your job and one person has to take on all the bills.

2 – What is your credit score? If you decide to apply for an apartment or a loan together, it’s nice to know where you both stand with your credit scores. This can help to avoid any awkward conversations if you were to get declined for a loan because of bad credit.

3 – Would you rather spend money on experiences or a home? This is a great question to see where each other’s priorities are. Some people prefer to have a beautiful home and tangible items whereas others like to invest in traveling and experiences.

4 – Do you owe any family members or friends money? Getting financially involved with family and friends can cause an entirely unexpected set of issues. If you do owe money to friends or family, try to make it a priority to pay them back to avoid any tension and animosity.

5 – Do you use credit cards? If so, do you pay them off every month? Some people use credit cards for all expenses to build up credit or earn points for rewards and pay them off right away. Does your future spouse use credit cards because they don’t have money in the bank? If so, that’s a different story so make sure to get on the same page as each other when it comes to credit card usage.

6 – How do you want to handle paying the bills? Will one person be in charge of handling all the expenses, or will it be a partnership? Who will be in charge of certain bills?

7 – Will you have a joint checking account or keep them separate? For the record, I’m a huge believer in a joint checking account and always have been.

8 – Are you a saver and do you have a saving account? Whatever your degree of savings is, you should discuss having a savings account. It’s important to have an emergency fund tucked away in case you need money for medical expenses, vet bills, car repairs, or home maintenance.

9 – Do you want children? This discussion has probably happened long before you got engaged, but it’s important to talk about the financial costs of having kids. Maybe you want one child and your spouse wants three. During this discussion, think about the costs of daycare versus one parent staying at home, whether you want to send them to private or public school, and if you want to pay for their college educations.

10 – Do you have life insurance? Maybe you both have life insurance through work, but that might not be adequate. You want to make sure your loved ones are protected from a financial disaster if you were to unexpectedly pass away. If you have anyone that depends on you financially, then you should have life insurance. Most financial experts, myself included, recommend term life insurance. The amount should be 10-12x your annual salary.

Because money is one of the biggest reasons for arguments between couples, it’s helpful to sit down and get it all out in the open. It may not be fun, but it will help to avoid many issues ahead of time. You’ll feel good to have that conversation behind you and then you can continue planning the wedding!

Did you discuss these things before marriage?


48 responses to “10 Financial Questions to Ask Before Marriage

  1. My wife and did not discuss finances before we got married, part of the reason we ended up in six figures worth of debt. So important to have this talk beforehand. Being on te same page with your money will only make the relationship that much better in the long run.

    1. I agree that communication prior to marriage will help with avoiding many financial problems, including debt. I’m glad you’ve learned from that and are working to fix it now.

  2. What a helpful list! I am definitely going to share this with some engaged couples I know. We didn’t talk about everything on this list–I was 20 when we married and not thinking about life insurance, though I should have been. Our financial situation was fairly straightforward since we were so young and without credit card debt, but I knew I was marrying a saver and I’ve always been glad I did.

    1. Having a spender and a saver in a relationship can lead to some conflicts once in a while. For us it works well because we tend to balance each other out.

  3. I like these! I think it helps to get on the same page financially before you get married. Not asking the right questions (or any questions) is a recipe for disaster!

    1. I agree. People grow up with different financial philosophies and it’s important to discuss that and get on the same page before getting married.

  4. All great and important questions to ask. Unfortunately money is one of the main reasons that causes divorce and separation, and it is definitely better to avoid it. My husband and I discussed everything before and we already knew our spending and saving habits as well. The key really is to have the same expectations and values.

    1. I agree that you have to be on the same page and know each other’s habits when it comes to money. I’m glad you talked about it before marriage.

  5. These are incredible questions. Even though my husband and I met after college, and with partially established careers we didn’t talk much about finances before getting married. Part of this is because we didn’t have any horrible financial warts, but the other part is that we didn’t totally understand how the daily interworkings of our finances connected to the big picture goals.

    1. I think a lot of people are in that boat. They don’t really know that their daily money habits will be tied to big goals as much as they are. They forget that spending $5 on coffee every day adds up to a lot that could be used for something else at the end of a year.

  6. We discussed all of the above. It was even a part of pre-marital counseling. I had nothing to hide and willingly shared all these details. Fortunately, my husband and I WERE polar opposites when it came to money; however, in the end it worked out because we shared the same values and had the same goals. I think that this is the most important aspect, having the same values, because personalities differ. If one spouse is a spender and the other is a saver, it is possible to come out on a positive side if your goals/values align.

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

    1. Opposites attract. 🙂 Sometimes being opposites can be a source of conflict, but it can also bring some balance to money decisions if you are both willing to compromise sometimes.

  7. Such important questions to ask BEFORE marriage! Especially about kids. There are some things that may be deal breakers, like wanting/not wanting kids, etc. that you really should know about beforehand.

    1. Definitely! I’m always sad when I hear of couples not agreeing on the issue of having kids. It’s sad when one spouse wants them and the other doesn’t. They really should have talked about that first.

  8. I just got married and a question I felt important to discuss with my fiance was that I wanted to be self employed in the future and that could mean an unstable income stream from my end. I wanted to let him know of my future goals and intentions financially. He was fully supportive!

    I agree completely with being honest and open with both of your finances before legally tying the knot!

    1. That’s a great example of something that should be discussed. I didn’t know I’d want to be self-employed some day, but when the time came for me to make the leap we discussed it thoroughly.

      1. Self-employment is hard enough for one person but the journey is a bit easier with a supportive partner!

  9. A great list of questions, Cat! Chris and I did have the “money talk” before we got married. We have similar money philosophies, which always helps, and firmly believe in money transparency. I’ve seen a lot of marriages fall apart due to money secrets and never want that to happen to my own. I also think it is really healthy for the girls to see Mom and Dad openly discussing and even respectfully disagreeing with one another.

    1. We don’t always agree 100% of the time either, but we always hear each other out and are good at compromising so we each get to “win” some of the time. 🙂

  10. My husband and I came from completely different money perspectives. So while we weren’t necessarily in complete harmony on the subjects, we were both well aware of where the other stood. And were working toward a good middle ground.

    1. I’m glad you guys are working on compromising and meeting in the middle. A more moderate financial philosophy is probably better than leaning too hard in one direction or the other anyway. 🙂

  11. These are all great questions to ask. I know way too many people who get married without asking a single question. That’s just too scary for me!

  12. Great questions! I feel likeI know my fiance’s answer to all of these and I definitely know his credit score and debt number, but I should ask the rest just to be sure 🙂

  13. I love this! What a great resource for people who are about to get married. My sister recently got married and didn’t bother to dig into her fiance’s finances. Bad idea. Everything is going to work out long-term, but having extra debt would be nice to know before saying your vows. My wife and I talked extensively about money before getting married, and I’m glad we did. We’re now on the same page with everything finance-related. Great article Cat!

    1. Oh man! I hope things work out for your sister and her now-husband. That’s something I would be afraid of it we hadn’t talked about finances before marriage too.

  14. This is a great list of questions to cover when you get down to the nitty-gritty (which I agree should be before walking down the aisle). In addition to life insurance, you should also ask about disability (income protection) insurance because you want your family to be protected if one or both of you becomes unable to work.

    For my first marriage, we were both just out of college and while we were aware of each other’s general finances, I don’t think we discussed things in detail. Before I married my second wife, we definitely covered all of these topics and have always been on the same page financially.

    1. I’m glad you spent more time on the topic before your 2nd marriage. Disability is definitely something that should be added to the list. Great suggestion!

  15. A solid list, I think people don’t like talking about this and it’s so important to get on the same page when it comes to money and the future. I’ve read so many sad stories of folks who discover some insignificant amount of debt somewhere and it nearly derailing things. It wasn’t the amount, it was that it was kept “hidden” (or more likely, just forgotten). It became less about $ and more about trust. Talking about it jogs the memory and avoids things like this.

    1. Definitely! Even if it’s a small amount of “hidden” debt, it’s just the fact that it wasn’t discussed or disclosed that creates the biggest problem.

  16. I could never imagine not talking about finances before marriage, but I know that’s a bit out of the norm. It’s so important to be on the same page from the get-go, otherwise making compromises will be tougher. I have to say #9 is the most important for me. I had told my ex when we first started dating that I didn’t want kids, and he brushed it off thinking I’d change my mind. Two years later and it was still the same. I’ve heard similar stories from others who have gotten divorced over it.

  17. According to survey, about 80-90% of the divorce rate is due to financial issues. I think it’s reality. Well, we don’t need to ask how much do you have in your bank but, rather, we need to check first our attitude towards money. It’s not how much you have but it’s how you spend it.

  18. Now, I am gonna ask this to my future husband. I think these 10 questions are important in deciding if he’s the right man for me because I want someone who is financially responsible and has the same interest and plans in life. Yay! I hope he could pass these 10 questions.

  19. Love this, Cat! Going to share for sure. It’s critical that you learn about each other before marriage and that includes money! I cannot imagine marrying someone and not having discussed these things.

  20. Great questions.. My boyfriend and I have discussed a lot of these and we’ve lived together for a while so we’ve been able to see each others habits for a long time – like how he can’t seem to find the laundry basket when he undresses lol. I think people are worried about hearing the wrong answers or that it will make things awkward, but they will hopefully lead to a long and happy relationship!

    Question: why are you a big believer in joint accounts? We don’t have one yet but I know he’s mentioned it in the past and I’m a believer in it, but he asked when we had been dating for like 4 months and I thought that was too soon haha.

  21. I am going to send this list to my sister. She recently got engaged and I know she has three figures worth of student loan debt. She really needs to come clean with her fiance, so it doesn’t cause issues later.

  22. I think we asked each other all of these questions before we got married, and there were no surprises. Granted, we were together for ten years before we got married, so we had lots of time to get these questions out of the way before the big day!

  23. So many people don’t even think to ask these types of questions before marriage. We are teaching our children that the answers to these types of questions are of much importance before making a marriage decision.

  24. Absolutely agree I think is always better be honest from the beginning of every relation, some things is better to know BEFORE and not After the wedding!!!

  25. I honestly discussed this with my wife before getting married. It’s really important that we had the same goals with regard to money matters because as we know, unsuccessful marriage is normally caused by money issues, so we’d better be prepared and know that we can avoid this by dealing with it prior to marriage.

  26. It’s always best to know where your partner is at financially before tying the knot. As you pointed out, you also need to know goals and expectations about other important things too. Knowing these things ahead of time can help your marriage succeed where so many others fail. Good post!

  27. I wish I had asked literally any of these questions to my ex-wife (hint hint) before we got married…

    Oh well, it’s certainly a lesson that I learned the hard way.

  28. I feel like if people actually asked each other these questions, like 90% of divorces could be avoided. The problem is people would rather avoid the tough questions and just pretend the issues don’t exist or something. Anything to avoid a potential fight, I guess, but that’s a bad idea when you’re going into something as serious as marriage. Have the fight now instead of letting it simmer under the surface for 5 years until it blows up your marriage.

    1. True that these kinds of conversations are uncomfortable but I’m glad you agree how important they are!

  29. Great list, Cat! Coming together and understanding each other’s finances and before the big day is definitely something all engaged couples should discuss. Some couples don’t like talking about this topic in particular but it’s best to be discussed before your wedding day so you’re both on the same page financially. Being open and honest with one another will not only provide you two with future financial success but success all around as a married couple!

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