Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
The pre-marriage 'money talk'

The pre-marriage 'money talk'

  • 0
Support this work for $1 a month

Sorry, lovebirds, but make time during your courtship to talk about student loans, joint checking accounts and credit ratings before wedding bells ring.

That's one way of ensuring that money issues won't become marital sticking points or, worse, lead to a breakup.

Money disagreements are one big reason why many couples don't stay together. According to a TD Ameritrade survey, 41% of divorced Gen Xers said they ended their marriages because of disagreements about money.

A separate survey, by The Cashlorette, an affiliate of, found that nearly half of all Americans who are married or living with a partner said they argue over money, with most of the fights being about spending habits, being dishonest about money and how to divide paying the bills.

If one of your children is in a serious relationship — even if they appear to be a perfect match — the couple shouldn't put financial compatibility on the back burner until after walking down the aisle.

Your child should consider premarital counseling, which typically involves conversations about money, or meet with a financial planner to go over spending, budgeting, workplace benefits and taxes. Or at the very least, designate date-night money talks. And if they aren't doing these things already, you as the parent wouldn't be wrong to gently but emphatically suggest them; more on that later.

Before tackling student-loan repayments and the merging of bank and investment accounts, have a heart-to-heart about goals and planning for the future, said Casey Snyder, a financial planner and senior vice president at the Sedoric Group of Steward Partners in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

"By planning together, there seems to be more of a natural flow of money-related discussions that leads to the merging of financial affairs," said Snyder. "But because it's often goal-based, both parties feel like they are still in control and were heard in the process."

Which leads to a follow-up point: "The best money conversations begin in calm environments with a spirit of curiosity," said David Wells, the founder of Family Capital Strategy in Nashville, Tennessee.

The best conversations are also two-way streets, Wells said.

"Each person in the relationship needs to be doing their work on their relationship with money," he said. "If one is willing to press in and open up and the other is not, there is a limit to how successful the dialogue can be."

Building strong financial footings also includes a discussion about some of the nuts-and-bolts issues, including checkbook management. Should the couple continue to keep their own checking accounts? Should a separate account be opened to cover household expenses?

Generally speaking, Snyder said, what's more important is having a system "that works best for each couple as long as it furthers their efforts to plan together and creates financial accountability."

As for one spouse being on top of bill paying, if one person enjoys that, let them take the lead, Wells said. But don't keep the other spouse in the dark. Make time to talk regularly about the checkbook and whether you're making progress on goals.

Wells also said some couples prefer combining all their income into one account to cover bills. Then discuss an "allowance" that each spouse can receive, and set up an automatic money transfer to a separate account.

"Allowance funds can be spent, no questions asked," Wells said. "That is one way to manage the paradox of 'I' versus 'us' around spending and, I think, can head off a lot of conflict."

When the heart is involved, should parents get in the middle of money talks involving the future son-in-law or daughter-in-law? Or just bite their tongue and hope for the best?

"The best thing parents can do is to encourage their kids to do premarital counseling and perhaps even offer to underwrite the cost," Wells said. "It is a roundabout way to have someone ask" the money questions.


Questions, comments, column ideas? Send an email to

Questions, comments, column ideas? Send an email to

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular


DEAR READERS: Is taking a job for very low pay considered a career-building opportunity or a step back? That's the question I recently received from a 20-something who has been offered what he considers "a dream job." It would give him experience in an area of his chosen field that he hasn't had the chance to work in before, and it is an area he thinks he might want to pursue in the future. What are the pros and cons of accepting the job?


Two-factor authentication makes it a little harder for hackers to log into your accounts, even if they have the correct login and password.


It is not unusual for individuals who change employers to lose track of their retirement accounts. If they fail to transfer the account properly, and the account becomes dormant, after two years the funds in the account are turned over to the state as unclaimed property. State laws vary a great deal on what happens next.


While all eyes are focused on the rising stock market, the bond market is staging a quiet rebellion. Interest rates are rising inexorably, despite pronouncements from Fed Chair Jerome Powell that there is no inflation in sight, at least for the next three years.


If you're the parent of a student headed off to college in the fall (hopefully not virtually), you are about to make some big money decisions about how to pay for college — and whether the cost is worth the ultimate price.


As I write this, bitcoin has breached $50,000. That may just be a number, but consider Bitcoin's recent ascent: Just two years ago, a single bitcoin fetched $3,600, and at the beginning of this year, the value had increased tenfold to over $36,000, and it is now trading at $50,000. The dizzying ride of Bitcoin began for me back in 2013, when I went on television to discuss the fact that it had risen above $1,000, from $13, earlier that year.


Quick show of hands: Have your kids heard of GameStop? What about hedge funds? And are they asking if Robinhood has anything to do with Nottingham?


DEAR READERS: Wanting to do everything yourself is a natural response for many people who know they know how to complete a task and don't want to "waste time" reaching out for help. I imagine that is especially true in today's pandemic environment, when so many people are working from home.


DEAR READERS: I've seen many listings for internships that specify only current students or recent graduates should apply. I always wonder about older job seekers. Are there internships for experience folks who want to change careers and are looking for an opportunity to learn a new skill or profession?


Who ever dreamed that Roblox and Fortnite would be the "gateway drugs" to stock speculation? But it's hardly a surprise that a generation that grew up on video games — honing their quick decision-making skills and even paying real money to purchase "extras" — would suddenly turn to "playing" in the stock market!

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News