While couples preparing to walk down the aisle discuss a lot of issues, one they don't talk enough about are finances, new research shows.
Nearly one out of five couples did not talk about their financial situation until after marriage, with 15 percent not discussing it even after getting married, a study by credit and information management firm TransUnion revealed.
"Discussing finances with your fiancé or significant other can be a scary or awkward situation, but it is an important one to help avoid unnecessary stress down the road," said Heather Battison, a senior director at TransUnion. "Understanding the financial commitments that come with marriage can help to maintain marital bliss long after the ceremony."
The study found that those who did talk about their financial situation before getting married were better off for it. Nearly half of the couples surveyed felt prepared or organized after sharing their financial situation with their partner, while nearly 20 percent said the open communication made them feel relieved and reassured.
TransUnion offers several tips to couples trying to get their marriage started off on the right financial footing, including:
- Talk about it: Openly discussing finances with your significant other or fiancé is the best way to prevent future disagreements. Each person should obtain and review a copy of their credit report and discuss the debts they have. Talk about spending habits, savings and financial goals so both people are on the same page.
- Give some credit: Understanding a sweetheart's credit history can help avoid future surprises. If there are past credit problems, work together now to clean things up and reduce debts.
- Marry accounts: Combining finances this way can be a great way to get the best deal on a major purchase. Be careful, though, any negative reporting associated with the joint account could mean potential damage for both spouses' credit. Don't worry, though, credit reports won't automatically merge together after marriage. Only when a joint account is opened or a loan cosigned will a record appear on both credit reports.
- Build a love nest: Couples planning on buying a home together should give themselves at least six months to save up a down payment and reduce their debt-to-income ratio. A few months of financial improvement can potentially save thousands on a new mortgage.
- Cut wedding costs: Planning that dream wedding can sometimes lead to a nightmare of debt. Engaged couples should talk about how much they can afford to spend without breaking the bank. Being creative about trimming the budget, such as by using potted flowers or making the invitations by hand, can help shrink costs without reducing style.
The study was based on surveys of 500 married Americans.