Brandon Copeland

Money Conversations You Should Have Before Marriage

Kiplinger.com contributing editor and NFL linebacker Brandon Copeland has Valentine's Day (and beyond) advice for couples who want to improve their financial dynamics for a healthier relationship.

Courtesy of Rian Watkins

"First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby with the baby carriage. That's not all,that's not all."

What's up, everybody? This is Brandon Copeland, a/k/a Professor Cope, NFL linebacker, contributing editor for Kiplinger. And this is another episode of Cope'ing With Money.

See All of Brandon Copeland's Cope'ing With Money Features on Kiplinger.com.

It's February. It's the month of love, Valentine's Day. Ooh ... Hey, hey, get that out your mind. That's not what we talking about here.

With love comes marriage, and marriage is a beautiful, beautiful thing. But, what a lot of people forget to talk about is there is a business to marriage, in the midst of all the cuddling and kissing and hugging.

Sometimes you forget to talk about that business. So, I wanted to give you all some tips on things you should definitely discuss with your partner prior to being married.

Talking about money can be a tough conversation to have in general, but it can be a little bit tougher when you're talking with your spouse about it as well. So I suggest you break this conversation down into digestible chunks.

Aligning Your Financial Goals

The first thing we need to get on the same page with is: making sure our financial goals are aligned. Or, we're at least aware of each other's financial goals.

If I want a 25-bedroom, 12-bathroom house; however, my wife is happy living in a trailer, we need to find some sort of common ground going in the marriage so that our spending habits jointly can help us reach that comfort zone for both of us.

Within the financial goal conversation will come a number of different topics of discussion. For example, children. Do you plan on putting your children through public school, private school? Do we plan to pay for their marriage or their honeymoon? Do we want to put them through college entirely, or just give them a sizeable head start?

These are all things that you want to be on the same page about, so that you can both work toward them together.

During a marriage, resentment can fester if one partner is working harder toward these goals than the other. So we want to have these conversations beforehand.

What's Your Joint Investment Plan?

Another topic is your investment plan. Does one partner plan on managing all the finances? Or is this a joint conversation every time a financial move is made for your future? Are your risk tolerances the same? Is one of you more conservative, while the other is closer to a gambler? We should just align on these things prior to entering holy matrimony.

If you don't know this already, when you get married, you tend to share everything: share bathrooms, beds. You also share your credit and debt situations as well. Getting one, three, five years in the marriage and finding out you can't afford the home that you want because of your spouse's credit doesn't make for a healthy conversation around the dinner table.

Laying all of this information out, then figuring out how you want to attack these things together, can help you all make the best business plan for you and your marriage.

How Will the Bills Be Paid?

The next thing you want to discuss are bank accounts and bill pay. Do we plan on keeping all of our bank accounts separate? Combining them into one or two joint accounts? Or a mixture?

How do we plan to attack our bills? When we go to dinner, is it 50/50? Are we going 25/75? Am I swiping my card? "I saw you order that extra drink, and you know it's not free refills."

Again, we just want to be on the same page with these things to avoid stress, confusion, and negative energy later on in our marriage.

These are just a few of the topics you should be discussing with your spouse-to-be. But: Married folks, I don't want you to think that you are barred from these conversations. You can still sit down and talk through these things to be better aligned financially.

I want to wish everybody a very happy Valentine's Day. For those of you who are on the cusp of getting married, congratulations to you.

For those of you who are having these conversations and decide to call it off: Sorry, that's just how it is. This is life. This is

Cope'ing With Money. I really, really appreciate you. I also want to say for those of you who thought that this was going to be a nasty Valentine's Day video ... Shame on you.

Most Popular

Yes, You Can Collect Social Security from an Ex-Spouse: Here’s How
social security

Yes, You Can Collect Social Security from an Ex-Spouse: Here’s How

It’s always smart to maximize your Social Security benefits, and if you are divorced, one way to do that might be to take them based on your ex’s earn…
May 13, 2021
Refunds for $10,200 Unemployment Tax Break to Begin This Week
Coronavirus and Your Money

Refunds for $10,200 Unemployment Tax Break to Begin This Week

The IRS will start issuing automatic refunds in mid-May to people eligible for the unemployment benefit tax exemption.
May 14, 2021
18 Worst Things to Buy at Dollar Stores
spending

18 Worst Things to Buy at Dollar Stores

These discount retailers stock plenty of bargains, but some of the merchandise isn’t worth the buck.
May 14, 2021

Recommended

Estate-Planning Your Stuff with T. Eric Reich
Empty Nesters

Estate-Planning Your Stuff with T. Eric Reich

What to do with the house, the vacation house and the china? We talk with a financial adviser who's got some wise counsel. Also, who makes up the so-c…
May 2, 2021
What You Need to Know about College 529 Savings Plans
529 Plans

What You Need to Know about College 529 Savings Plans

Do you know how much you’re able to contribute or what the funds could be used to pay for? How about how contributing affects your taxes? Check out th…
April 14, 2021
37 Ways to Earn Extra Cash in 2021
business

37 Ways to Earn Extra Cash in 2021

We flag a wide variety of cool side hustles to earn bonus bucks to cover expenses expected and unexpected as we begin to emerge from the pandemic lock…
April 8, 2021
6 Money-Smart Ways to Spend Your Third Stimulus Check
Coronavirus and Your Money

6 Money-Smart Ways to Spend Your Third Stimulus Check

If you don't have to use your third stimulus check for basic necessities, consider putting the money to work for you. You'll thank yourself later.
March 20, 2021