Financial disclosure - how much and how soon?

If you are in a steady relationship, when do you share how much you have and or how much you make? After marriage? Engagement?

We talked about finances before we got engaged. I would certainly want my D to know about her partner’s financial health and outlook way before they got that serious.

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I think thorough discussions about each person’s financial situation as well as general attitudes about money are a must before engagement. The whole topic can be a minefield.

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I would not wait until after marriage. That can be quite a bombshell. Others may feel differently, but my wife and I believe that part of a being in a marriage is sharing all finances. Simply put, there are no secrets. When we were married, I became obligated on her med school debt, and she became obligated on my law school debt (I now pronounce you a debtor). That was long ago. There are no separate or secret accounts. Everything is joint. We have nothing to hide from each other. We talk about all big purchases. Now…that is after marriage. We talked about money when we were dating. Some, but not much. It got serious when we were engaged or knew we were headed that route.

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Talking about finances before an engagement is a must. Maybe not every little investment holding, but income, whether there is large college (or other) debt, etc.

How one approaches their financial life is important to understand prior to making such a serious commitment.

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How soon? One year after they met? Two years? After meeting both parents? And how much to share? They don’t have debt of any kind. Spending habits are similar. Earnings, they have a rough idea of each other’s earnings. It is the assets that are in the dark.

I think it all depends…but if a couple is talking seriously about a future together, it’s time to talk finances.

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What kind of assets? Trust fund type stuff or parent assets?

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A cautionary tale. An acquaintance’s daughter fell in love and married a nice guy… no $$, no debt. Except it turned out that the guy was self employed at some point in the past prior to meeting her and did not pay taxes for a couple of years or so, and the IRS came after him. It was a very unpleasant financial surprise.

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These days, pretty early in the relationship according to my kid.

There was a long term relationship that my kid found out that the other person had significant assets (think multi million dollar trust fund) that wasn’t disclosed until years later. Trust became an issue. Kid didn’t need to know the particulars but there were issues that were deliberately hidden. (Trying not to say too much).

After that, relationships needed more transparency. Not everything but an idea of debt and not hiding finances.

But these things are sticky when there are significant assets involved. Maybe debt also but that has been easier to navigate

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My D and her bf are very open about these things. They have been together for two years, living together for one. They openly discuss their salaries, savings etc. I even know how much they both make and what they have saved. There are no secrets there.

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I feel like discussion of finances should arise organically as the relationship progresses. If it doesn’t, that might be a sign that communication in the relationship is an issue.

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I’m on the fence when it comes to trust funds. Our Ds both have trust funds-not millions of dollars, but a fair amount. Our attorney advised them both to not disclose this to a partner until they were very very serious (he knows of too many bad situations where a suitor got wind of trust funds and let that guide them rather than love). He didn’t define “very serious,” but he did impress upon them that their money wasn’t anyone’s else’s business until the relationship was pretty much in a committed form.

D1 didn’t disclose the full scope of her assets until after she married her DH. D2 just got engaged, and I think she has given a skeleton explanation, but not firm numbers. She knows his salary and $$ commitments to his son from another partner. He knows her salary.

Neither D brought any debt whatsoever to their relationships. Neither partner has significant debt either that hasn’t already been disclosed (small car payment).

Philosophy of spending and saving, general ballpark of salary potential would certainly be important to disclose as a relationship gets serious, but I guess I’m in the minority in thinking a person owes someone they are not married to detailed descriptions of trust funds or assets acquired prior to marriage, accountings of potential inheritances down the road, etc.

Our Ds’ trust funds are protected in the event of a divorce if they haven’t been dispersed and co-mingled. Pre-nuptial agreements are certainly always an option. D2 is now an attorney, so I guess she will decide how she wants to handle it.

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I advised my DD not to disclose her financial situation unless she is in serious relationship that will end up in marriage. She employed in a field that pays extremely well right after college. As soon as her previous relationship learned exactly how much she makes he was expecting her to cover all meals and big chunk of join expenses. It was a big switch from how they were splitting expenses before he gained this knowledge of her salary. In his field of work he was making less then a third of what she was making.

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This is where those 6 months of pre-cana classes came in handy :joy: DH and I discussed more in-depth finances once we became more serious and started talking about engagement/marriage.

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What is pre-cana classes?

I grew up Catholic (not anymore); they were mandatory classes before you got married that covered things like:

  • Spirituality/faith
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Careers
  • Finances
  • Children
  • Communication
  • Sex (basically making sure you have the same expectations about sex)
    I walked away from the church before I got married, but did it for my parents; the classes were actually really helpful.
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I really don’t want to disclose things but this was happening. The problem was that the partner was representing themselves as not having anything when in fact they had a much rosier picture. Once it was disclosed that they could in fact pay their own way, there were trust issues.

I do not think that they needed to explain the entire picture. I would have thought that they wouldn’t take advantage of a relationship.

I do not think that you need to disclose everything. I do however hope that there would be some effort to have an equal partnership.

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It gets tricky, especially in a multi-year exclusive relationship. I don’t know how much our S earns but he normally has a full time job with benefits as well as a part time job. He’s had a GF for 5+ years. She’s had several different jobs over the years. They’ve done significant national and international travel together. I have no idea how they share expenses or it either has any debt (doubt it because S is very debt adverse).

H and I shared financial info before we married, as well as how we approached savings/spending. It was and is compatible and we’ve opted for joint accounts for most things.

My friends have opted for his, hers, and joint accounts. They are free to do what they want with their separate accounts but the joint account needs both of them to agree. This has helped them minimize squabbles about whether either “helps” extended family financially, etc.

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I would say before engagement if it’s “bad” news (potential dependents, debt, gaps in employment history, health insurance issues etc.). “Good” news should wait until people know each other well and have weathered storms together.

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