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Heading down the aisle? Money management advice for the soon-to-be-married

Every couple planning a wedding knows that there are some argument-causing topics they just won’t discuss. Maybe he’ll leave the choice of wedding colors up to her, and she, in turn, won’t comment on his best man’s reputation. And neither will discuss the foibles of their future in-laws.

Money, debt and credit, however, should never be on that list of taboo topics for couples preparing to wed. In fact, financial experts and marriage counselors agree that honest, open communication about money matters is an essential element of a successful marriage.

Hopefully, if you’re about to exchange vows, you have at least a passing idea of each other’s personal finances – and personal style when it comes to managing important issues like credit and savings. But before you finalize the guest list and decide on a honeymoon destination, you should discuss your current individual financial statuses, and how you’ll manage credit as a married couple in the future.

Full disclosure

You may not see the romance in a credit report, but sharing your credit standing with your future spouse is an admirable – and necessary – gesture of commitment. Plus, it’s an essential step toward planning your future financial course together, especially if you’ll be buying a house or car, or funding an education for one of you. Websites like CreditReport.com make it easy to get the information you need to understand your credit score and how it works. Armed with this knowledge, the two of you can make informed financial decisions.

Knowing how much debt each of you has, what shape your credit reports are in and how potential lenders might score your creditworthiness as a couple can help you make informed decisions about your financial future together.

Agree on a style …

… Or agree to disagree within reason. Two people can be so compatible they share the same taste in food, music and clothing styles – and still disagree on spending and saving habits. Marriage is about compromise and this is one area where one individual can’t have it all his or her own way.

If one of you is a spendthrift who likes to account for every penny out of his paycheck each month, while the other has no idea how much her morning cup of Joe costs, you’ll need to meet somewhere in the middle. Discuss how you’ll keep track of spending and how much you’ll save each month.

Plan ahead

Often, a couple’s future spending goals rely on how well they manage their credit. You probably discussed where you’ll live after you’re married, and it’s likely the idea of buying a house is on your minds – either soon or several years down the road.

Planning how you’ll manage credit in the early days of your marriage can help you work toward your mutual spending and saving goals. Monitoring your credit may make sense. In addition to alerting you to key changes in your credit reports and scores, credit monitoring sites like CreditReport.com can provide tips and tools to help you understand credit and keep track of your scores. Better understanding your credit can make you better able to work toward your mutual financial objectives.

Keep perspective

While money matters and co-managing your finances is important in a marriage, it’s not the only thing that is. Financial management experts advise newlyweds to discuss finances, but put your relationship first.

When money issues arise – and they do for most married couples – keep in mind that your approach to handling them needs to be a team effort. After all, you didn’t get married for the money, you did it for love. Managing your money as a team can help ensure you have more time to think about what’s really important – each other.

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