Before young couples decide to get married, they may discuss lots of things: children, politics, dreams and aspirations. But chances are they haven't talked about money.
In fact, one out of five respondents in a recent survey revealed that they avoided the subject altogether before walking down the aisle. The Zogby survey commissioned by zendough.com, part of the TransUnion credit bureau, found that nearly one in five respondents either didn't think of discussing finances before getting married or thought about having "the talk" -- but avoided the conversation.
Only one-fourth -- 24.2 percent -- talked about finances and took the important step to create a budget before tying the knot. One-third said they did not know their spouse's credit score, even though one spouse's poor credit score could affect a couple's access to credit in the future.
Approaching the discussion
"Discussing finances with your significant other can be scary and awkward, but being open and honest about your individual financial situation can help you avoid issues or stress down the road," said Heather Schneider, education director for zendough.com.
The experts at zendough.com offer the following pre-marital discussion tips:
- Be honest with your future spouse and discuss your financial goals and dreams.
- Make a list of creative ways to manage wedding expenses. For example, using potted flowers and making the invitations yourself can help shrink your costs without reducing your style.
- Discuss whether to establish joint checking and savings accounts.
- Develop a money management plan that meets both your needs.
- Allocate part of your monthly budget to saving for a down payment on a home or other large purchase. For example, if you'll jointly earn $100,000 per year, saving 5-10 percent of that could help cover a portion of a down payment on a home.
- Regularly review your credit and debt information to help each of you better understand your collective financial situation.
Before starting a family, couples should make a list of the essentials and the "nice to haves" for the baby and focus on the essentials. For instance, it's important to evaluate your medical insurance policy to see what expenses will be covered during pregnancy and infancy.
You probably don't really need that top-of-the-line, high-priced stroller or crib with all the bells and whistles. Consider purchasing a highly recommended, reputable and safe stroller or crib that still fits within your budget and you'll have money left over for diapers and formula.
While it may seem early, couples can open a tax-advantaged or other college fund for their newborn by setting aside a specific amount each month. This can help alleviate stress when it's time to send kids off to school.
And while you're in the plan-ahead mode, research the cost of childcare and discuss which options are right for your family. Do your best to be sure your financial house is in order before baby arrives. You can get started on this by working together to reduce debts and making sure both of you have credit that's in good standing.
But first, you have to have that conversation about money.