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Love & Money: How to Have the Talk

The wedding of British royal Prince Harry and his American bride Meghan Markle has kicked off the nuptial season in the most sentimental way.

But before making plans for your own royal wedding, have you and your fiancé had the talk? Not about the wedding budget, but about money in general. 

Hopefully it’s been an ongoing discussion throughout your dating years. However, if you’re like most people, those discussions, if you had them at all, might have been half hearted. 

According to a recent LearnVest survey, 53% percent of Americans surveyed have four or fewer conversations about finances a year—and 20% of Americans never do.

Let’s face it, talking about money can be uncomfortable. And it’s even more difficult when it’s with your significant other, because of the emotions involved. It’s considered such a chore, that some 68% of Americans in relationships say money causes more tension than their sex life. 

Open, honest communication about finances may feel awkward, but it is one of the most important steps couples can take on the path to long-term wedded bliss. 

Here are a few basics to cover.

Lay it all out: Open up about salaries, debt, assets and any other financial obligations. Share your credit scores and balances in your 401(k), IRA and any other savings or investments. If you don’t know your starting point and what’s owed, how can you plan for your future together? 

What’s your spending style?We all have different money habits and philosophies. Reconciling this question alone will go a long way in preventing major arguments. Figure out your habits. Discuss how you spend – do you use cash or credit cards? What is considered a splurge? How do you prepare for the future etc? Identify the trouble spots early and be flexible working on a plan to tackle them together. 

What are your goals? Explore your dreams and how they will be financed. How will your financial responsibilities be shared? Figure out how the bills will be handled and how your budget will be structured. Will finances be combined? Will some assets be kept separate?