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12 debt questions to ask before getting married

'I owe' discussion should precede the 'I do'

By Adrienne Samuels-Gibbs

Newly in debtBefore you say, "I do," you should get to know each other's financial health, and nothing says it better than your credit report.

"The credit report reflects how a person manages money. If their credit report is a lot different from  yours, it probably means you have a lot of financial compatibility issues," says Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, a Phoenix-based, nonprofit financial education and consumer debt service organization.

Here are the top 12 questions you need to ask your betrothed that can help make your future life together a successful one:

  1. How many credit cards do you have?
  2. What are the balances and interest rates on each of those cards?
  3. Do you pay your bills ahead of time, on the due date or late?
  4. Are there dings on your credit history that might affect our ability to reach our financial goals?
  5. What is your credit score?
  6. Can I see your credit report?
  7. Do you have any regular "guilty pleasures" (like buying Coach purses, gambling or Xbox games) that I need to know about?
  8. What are our financial goals (salary and saving expectations, retirement plans, future education, etc.)
  9. Do you have any assets (real estate, investments, retirement funds, savings accounts)?
  10. Do you want children? If so, what are your (our) financial plans for supporting them?
  11. Do you owe any debt from a previous marriage? Are there any financial obligations that still need to be fulfilled to your ex-spouse?
  12. How do you expect us to support your children financially from a previous marriage or relationship?

There are no correct answers to any of those questions. However, if your spouse doesn't want to chat with you about finances, consider this a big red flag. If you learn that there is a large amount of credit card debt, extremely high interest rates on those cards or too many credit cards, then you may want to consult with a financial adviser or a credit counselor. If you learn that there are children from a previous marriage who will need college financing or that your spouse has never thought about saving for retirement, you may want a financial adviser to create a savings plan.

See related: Don't say 'I do" to bad credit

Published: July 9, 2008


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Updated: 12-09-2016


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