8 Financial Deal Breakers for Marriage

Bad credit, foreclosure and bankruptcy—love may be blind to these and other financial setbacks

Encourage your clients to discuss their financial problems before they tie the knot. Encourage your clients to discuss their financial problems before they tie the knot.

Bad credit, mortgage foreclosure and bankruptcy may seem like obvious nuptial deal breakers, but according to a new “Couples and Money” survey conducted by TD Ameritrade, love may be blind to these and other financial setbacks.

Respondents were asked whether the following eight financial issues impacting a future spouse would warrant calling off or postponing the wedding:

  1. low credit score,
  2. little or no savings,
  3. high credit card debt,
  4. high student loan debt,
  5. mortgage issue or foreclosure,
  6. lack of employment,
  7. no retirement savings and
  8. having filed for bankruptcy.

Topping the list of marriage deal breakers was bankruptcy.

However, just 32% of respondents felt this would be reason to call off the wedding. Another 27% said it would prompt them to postpone the big day, and 41% didn’t feel it was cause for either.

“One of the most common challenges newlyweds face is how to merge their finances,” Carrie Braxdale, managing director of investor services at TD Ameritrade, said in a statement. “We know that more people are getting married later in life, and as a result, they are bringing more financial history into the marriage—from credit card debt and student loans, to 401(k)s and other investments. This makes it even more important for couples to have the money discussions before they walk down the aisle.”

Despite reports that the average wedding costs more than $27,000, 46% of respondents who haven’t yet married but plan to expect to spend $10,000 or less on their weddings. And 60% of those who plan to get married say they will pay for the wedding out of their own pocket, with no help from parents.

Braxdale encourages couples to have the following money discussions before the wedding to help avoid any financial surprises:

Debt discussions: Having money secrets is no way to start off a marriage. While financial discussions such as student loan or credit card debt, etc. may not be the most romantic of topics, it’s important to understand the debt each partner brings into the marriage and how to manage it.

Knowing your credit score (or your partner’s): Checking your credit score once a year can help identify red flags and allow you to correct any errors. It’s important to know your credit score, especially if you’re planning on making larger purchases as a couple, such as buying a new car or a house.

Understanding investments: Many people get married later in life, so for many couples, one or both partners may come into the union with a 401(k), an IRA or other investment accounts. It’s important to discuss long-term goals and understand how you both plan to manage these accounts. It’s also a good idea to determine and name beneficiaries on retirement accounts, life insurance, wills and trust documents.

Saving and spending habits: While one partner may be frugal, and the other more of a spender, it doesn’t mean financial arguments are inevitable. What it does mean is that it is more important for these couples to discuss their saving/spending philosophies and work on finding a solution that works best.

Creating a budget: Create a realistic budget—discuss savings goals, talk about whether combined or separate spending accounts make the most sense and make sure your financial goals are in sync.

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