11 Essential Money Matters to Discuss Before Marriage

Planning a wedding? Here's what you really need to talk about -- personal finance and money matters that will be with you when the flower arrangements are long gone.

7. Talk about children

Are kids in your future? The cost of raising a child born in 2013 up to age 18 for a middle-income family in the United States is approximately $245,340 (or $304,480, adjusted for projected inflation), according to an annual report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Note that this estimate does not include expenses after age 18, such as college. If you want to include public or private college education, get a more detailed breakdown of costs, and see variations according to where you live, check out the Cost of Raising a Child Calculator on babycenter.com.

Of course money is not the only consideration — surely not the most important one — in the decision to raise children. But it is certainly helpful to understand what resources you will need to raise a family and to plan, if you go that route.

8. Plan for retirement

Assuming you’re together for the long haul, retirement savings will eventually be an important source of income in your household. Do both of you participate in retirement plans at work? If not, make sure that the working spouse is contributing to an IRA for the non-working spouse.

And while you’re at it, it’s a good idea to look into life insurance policies, both private and employer-sponsored.

9. Will you have joint or separate accounts?

This potentially sticky topic should also be hashed out before you tie the knot. While a marriage is indeed a union of two parties, some couples decide not to combine their finances and instead maintain separate bank accounts. Check out some of the pros and cons here: “10 Things You Should Know About Joining Finances in Marriage.”

There are also cases where it’s advisable to have a prenuptial agreement – for instance, when one partner is substantially wealthier than the other and has other heirs to consider. It will also save you a ton of time and money in the event that you divorce and go your separate ways.

10. Share career plans

How do your career aspirations fit into the overall plans for the marriage? Perhaps one of you will take on a demanding job that will require the other to become a stay-at-home parent and rely solely on one income.

Or maybe you want to start a business, but need to tap into savings to make ends meet during the startup phase.

Either way, money is involved, and the topic needs to be discussed.

11. What’s your backup plan?

When money gets tight in a marriage, fear or frustration can cause discord. That’s why it’s so important to establish and grow an emergency fund. What’s an ideal cushion? What are the rules for withdrawing funds from the account?

Do you have any additional suggestions? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Kari Huus contributed to this post.

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