"Money is a hard subject for couples to talk about and shying away from the issue usually leads to complications later on down the road. It's best to put it all on the table and work your finances out before jumping into marriage," says Jim Trippon, a Texas-based financial planning expert and author of the book, How Millionaires Stay Rich Forever. "Half of all marriages end in divorce, and most of these divorces could have been prevented if the brides-to-be knew the answers to three simple questions."
"There are several red flags that warn you when to become a 'runaway bride,'" according to Trippon. Find out what you really need to know by sitting down with your fiancé and getting the answers to the following three questions before you get married:
Your credit report & FICO score?
Taking a look at your fiancé's credit report and FICO score can be very telling. In a credit report, you can learn whether he has a history of paying his bills on time, who he owes money to, if he is in debt, if he consistently overdraws, and even if he owes back taxes and child support payments.
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A FICO score is based on a person's credit history, and scores typically range from 450 to 850 -- the better their credit, the higher their score. Any score below 700 is cause for concern, and should be discussed with your fiancé.
What are your financial goals?
It's important that you and your fiancé be able to work together and create and operate with a plan for your combined finances.
There are five important steps to creating a financial plan:
- Get educated about money.
- Perform a "gap analysis" to compare current spending against current income.
- Live a modest lifestyle.
- Establish an emergency fund right away, as well as a debt elimination plan.
- Automate your savings for maximum investment return.
Realize that having clear communication, honest disclosure, and agreements on the process to make financial decisions are all essential to making your marriage work.
Can you manage your money with a written budget?
Most people begin building their wealth by first learning how to budget their money wisely. One major red flag is learning that your fiancé has a habit of spending on impulse. Trust will develop if you learn that your future spouse has a written budget that documents his or her spending habits.
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Real confidence will come when you see that your partner to be knows how to control buying impulses and has the self-control to leave money to put away each month as savings. By creating and following a written budget, you and your partner will be able to acquire and maintain significant wealth through your lifetime.
Start at the beginning
"A bride can learn a lot about their fiancé by going over these things with them," says Trippon. "Knowing the details of your partner's financial history and habits can help a couple to have a happier and longer-lasting marriage."
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