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When you first meet someone and if you eventually get married, everything is bright and the possibilities seem endless. As life goes on, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day busy-ness. Before long, you’ve got mortgage payments, car bills, kids — and maybe credit challenges.

If I could tell every newly married couple one important thing it would be this: Talk about finances early and often. It’s a good idea to keep the lines of communication open, so you can try to understand your partner’s upbringing (because that will illuminate how they handle money), and I also believe you should each maintain your own credit.

Money isn’t everything, of course, but it is pretty important when it comes to paying the bills and making sure there’s food on the table. And a newly married couple often pools their resources (like shared bank accounts and co-signed loans) to provide for the family. Additionally, it’s a myth that once you get married, your credit and your partner’s credit is combined — rather, people keep their own credit.

Why Money Talks Are Important

We know that not all marriages work out as expected and divorce is an unfortunate reality at times. You never go into marriage wanting to get divorced, but it does happen.

And if a divorce does take place, finances will play a major role.

  • Finances are often one of the biggest causes of divorce as couples discover they simply don’t agree on how money should be spent.
  • During the divorce process, finances can continue to be a major cause of problems as the couple tries to separate assets and split them between each individual.
  • After the divorce, it can be difficult to move on with strained finances. In some ways, your finances can be “haunted” for years by your divorce.

For that reason, I urge every married person to talk openly and honestly with their partner about finances before and during marriage.

Having a Strong Credit Score

In additional to that, I also encourage every individual to maintain healthy credit. Because credit scores do not combine in a marriage, your individual healthy credit will help you get the things you need (such as a house, car and maybe college for yourselves or children).

But if a divorce should occur — of course, you hope it doesn’t, but if it should happen — your healthy credit is one of the best ways to get through the transition. With healthy credit, you’ll have a stronger financial foundation to help you land on your feet. You’ll also be more readily able to shake off the financial burden that can occur during and after a divorce.

I firmly believe that a healthy marriage, and even a healthy divorce, are partly the result of healthy credit. To get started, you and your spouse can take a look at your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com. This will give each of you an idea of where you currently stand, as well as areas that may need attention to help you improve your credit score.

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