madly, deeply in love and headed for the bonds of matrimony?
Take a deep breath. Look into your beloved's eyes and say,
Consumer experts recommend couples have a "You
show me yours and I'll show you mine" money session well
before they take that fateful trip down the aisle. From student
loans to car payments to credit card bills, it's best to come
clean on every "I owe" before saying "I do."
Get everything out in the open: What you make,
what you owe, what you own, any savings and investments you
may have. It's also a good idea to swap credit reports from
the three credit reporting agencies: Experian,
TransUnion and Equifax.
You can even thank a new
federal law for your first wedding gift: you'll now
be entitled to one free credit report from each of these credit
reporting agencies per year. Consumers in western states became
eligible to request their free annual credit report Dec. 1,
but if you live on the East coast you'll have to wait until
Sept. 1, 2005. To find out when you become eligible to receive
a free credit report, check out Bankrate's map.
While one spouse's premarriage debt or credit
dings won't affect another's credit rating, it can hamper
joint financial goals. Once married, any joint credit accounts
-- including those for auto loans, credit cards and mortgages
-- will show up on both spouses' credit reports.
After assessing current debts, be sure to discuss
individual and joint financial priorities and goals.
Talk about what works for you and why. Discuss
how financial decisions will be handled as a couple. How will
household expenses be divided? Will you agree to consult each
other before making purchases?
Money and debt are touchy subjects. Everyone
has a different comfort level. These questions
can help guide your money chat.
Or, take our quiz
to find out whether you and your beloved make "cents" together.
You both need to know what your wedding will
cost. The fiscal rule of thumb is this: Don't spend
more on nuptials and a honeymoon than you can repay in 24
months. OK, three years. Tops. You don't want it to overlap with
buying a home and the cost of children.