Have you had a candid conversation with your soon-to-be betrothed about finances? Sooner or later, you're going to have to, and it's generally easier to get it out of the way before wedding checks are written and bank accounts joined together. TD Ameritrade recently conducted a "Couples and Money" survey (which you can download here) that shows some interesting results: 32 percent of respondents felt a bankruptcy in one partner's past would be reason to call off the wedding while 27 percent said it would prompt them to postpone their wedding and 41 percent responded that it would not be cause for either.
Ameritrade managing director of investor services Carrie Braxdale offered the following debt and finance icebreakers for couples:
Debt discussions: Having money secrets is no way to start off a marriage. While financial discussions such as student loan or credit card debt, etc. may not be the most romantic of topics, it's important to understand the debt each partner brings into the marriage and how to manage it.
Knowing your credit score (or your partner's): Checking your credit score once a year can help identify red flags and allow you to correct any errors. It's important to know your credit score, especially if you're planning on making larger purchases as a couple, such as buying a new car or a house.
Understanding investments: Many people get married later in life, so for many couples, one or both partners may come into the union with a 401(k), an IRA or other investment accounts. It's important to discuss long-term goals and understand how you both plan to manage these accounts. It's also a good idea to determine and name beneficiaries on retirement accounts, life insurance, wills and trust documents.
Saving and spending habits: While one partner may be frugal, and the other more of a spender, it doesn't mean financial arguments are inevitable. What it does mean is that it is more important for these couples to discuss their saving/spending philosophies and work on finding a solution that works best.
Creating a budget: Create a realistic budget — discuss savings goals, talk about whether combined or separate spending accounts make the most sense and make sure your financial goals are in sync.
It's true, talking about money isn't nearly as fun as talking about wedding plans and I haven't seen any brides pinning 401(k) plans to Pinterest lately but it's still a conversation that will serve your relationship well later on down the road.