From our relationship files: If you’re getting serious about someone, listen up. You owe it to yourself to have a discussion about finances before you make a big move. It can be tricky to talk about money – even with someone you love - but there are a few main questions you need to ask:

  1. How much do you make? Don’t make assumptions about their cash flow based on where they work, or what industry they’re in. Find out exactly how much they’re bringing home so you can get a sense of their money situation. You have to be honest, too, because both of your incomes will determine what you can afford as a couple.
  2. Do you have any debt? A lot of people have student loans, but five maxed-out credit cards is a huge red flag, especially if they don’t have a re-payment plan. Bottom line: You don’t want your credit score to suffer if you pool your finances after marriage.
  3. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? It’s important to know whether both of you plan to stick with your current job and aim for a promotion, or change careers. If one of you decides to go back to school, can the two of you manage on one income?
  4. How many kids do you want? That’s because kids aren’t cheap. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it takes $476,000 to raise one child to the age of 18. That doesn’t include college or things like soccer gear, summer camp, and birthday presents. So, once you decide how many kids you want, pull out the calculator to figure out what you’ll need to support them.
  5. Are we going Dutch? When couples start dating, a lot of men pay for everything. Once you get married, will you open a joint checking account, and will you both be contributing half of all the costs and expenses of your life together? Bottom line: Make sure your financial plans are hashed out before you start making wedding plans.