Finance Experts Advise Engaged Couples To Come Clean About Debt

Monday, January 21st, 2019
Updated: January 21st, 2019
The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.

The wedding season is coming up—meaning brides and grooms-to-be are busy tasting wedding cakes, refining guest lists, and booking photographers. But there’s something else they should add to their to-do list, financial advisors warn.

Money talks, but many couples don’t

A sit-down to talk about money is vital to the health and happiness of any couple’s future, according to Joe Sicchitano, head of Wealth Planning and Advice Delivery at SunTrust. He cites a Harris Poll that found that less than half of married couples knew the truth about each other’s income and debt levels before tying the knot, saying “The gap between those who believe it is an important discussion and those who actually have the discussion is sizeable, and can negatively impact their financial confidence.” While 88 percent of those surveyed said it was important to talk about finances before getting hitched, only 51 percent actually had a discussion about how they would handle money matters as a married couple.

Why the discrepancy? “Some [couples] may be hesitant to reveal poor past decisions or may be concerned that financial details could change the landscape of the relationship.” While this is understandable, it’s not a reason to avoid the conversation, says Sicchitano. “Whatever the root cause, avoiding the conversation doesn’t change reality. Regardless of the past, couples need to discuss the financial reality of the present in order to plan successfully for the future.”

No problem too big to solve

If one or both parties have debt, poor credit, or other history they are concerned about, coming clean can only be good for the relationship. There are things that can be done to improve any financial situation, including applying for a balance transfer credit card with a zero-percent interest rate, getting a secured card to establish or repair damaged credit, and starting a savings account to put away funds for a mortgage or other large purchase. There are credit cards available for people with bad credit, no credit, or limited credit, as well as ways to improve credit history and pay down debt.

SunTrust experts advise couples to document their assets and liabilities, openly discuss financial goals and challenges, and make these conversations a regular part of their routine going forward. That way, the lines of communication stay open and problems can be headed off before they become overwhelming.

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