Before Getting Married, Take These 8 Steps to Help Ensure a Financial Match

When couples decide to get married, they’re committing to spending their lives together — and to merging a long list of life’s elements that, in most cases, previously pertained solely to each individual member of the couple. These newly shared things can range from their possessions, pets and families to their residence, their vehicles, their vacations, and often even their last name. And of all the once-individual things that tying the knot makes mutual, one stands out as the most likely to cause conflict: the couple’s newly merged finances.

In fact, polling indicates that money is the No. 1 thing American couples fight about. So, before you say “I do,” it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to your money and your financial goals. To help ensure that your marital bliss will be able to survive the challenges that financial disagreements can bring, consider taking these eight steps that can help foster your financial compatibility before you walk down the aisle:

  1. Embrace transparency — As with all aspects of a successful marriage, transparency and communication are key to creating a successful financial partnership. Before you and your partner walk down the aisle, have an open and honest discussion about your views on money and spending. Be sure to cover things like how you were taught to approach finances and debt while growing up — and try to gain a solid understanding of one another’s big-picture financial views and values. Of course, you won’t always agree on everything. But by having a friendly, judgment-free conversation, you can work to establish common ground when it comes to your overarching approaches and views on finances.
  2. … and talk about your individual financial situations — It’s also important that each of you know about one another’s current financial situation — and especially about any potentially uncomfortable topics like sizable outstanding debts and/or any bad marks on your credit histories. (Any important financial information that either of you hide is sure to come out over time in the marriage, and keeping it a secret will only serve to erode your partner’s trust in you.) Be sure to also share information on important financial topics like your incomes, your credit scores, your bank account balances, any retirement accounts or real estate holdings, etc. Ultimately, the more you know about one another’s finances before getting married, the better.
  3. Discuss your long-term financial goals — Now that you both have a better understanding of one another’s financial philosophy/values and each of you knows where your partner currently stands financially, take some time to discuss your financial goals for your future together. Some of the important topics to touch on might be whether or not you’d like to have children, when/if you want to purchase a home together, your thoughts on when and where you’d like to retire, whether you’d like to someday own your own business, and how often you like to travel. By having a better understanding of what you each envision for your financial future, you can better avoid future conflicts about financial priorities and spending.
  4. Be ready to budget — Few of us enjoy the process of creating — or living on — a budget. But establishing and following a household budget is essential to achieving financial well-being with your partner in marriage. Be prepared to, when the time comes, mutually create a household spending plan that incorporates both of your financial priorities. Success in this area will require compromise on what you view as the most important things you’ll want to spend your money on and save up for, and starting the discussion in advance can help reduce the potential for tensions in the future. One especially important topic to cover: Make sure to establish a minimum dollar amount at which you both agree you should discuss any spending once you’re together. A $40 or $50 expenditure is, in most cases, a financial decision you’ll both feel OK about making on your own. But should you speak with your partner before spending $100? Or $500? Or $1,000? Establish a solo spending limit you’re both comfortable with in advance so that neither of you are caught off guard by substantial purchases your partner may make in the future.
  5. Determine how you’ll deal with debt — Often, couples who are making plans to get married have yet to take some of the big (and expensive) financial steps that can increase the total amount of debt they are carrying — including major life moves like buying a home, starting a business or having kids. And because their debts tend to be lower and their disposable income has often not yet been allocated to such expenses, the early years of marriage can present a great opportunity to knock down debt. Whether this is the case for you and your spouse or not, make a plan to pay down as much of your now-mutual debt as possible, as doing so will help you to have more available funds to meet your financial goals moving forward.
  6. Consider your money-merging options — In most cases, couples merge their money and their financial accounts when they get married, typically for the sake of convenience. But in some cases, a groom or bride may prefer to instead maintain his or her own personal account(s) and keep his or her own finances and debt separate from his or her new spouse to maintain some level of financial autonomy. Whatever your thinking in this area may be, discuss with your partner the pros and cons of taking such steps as opening a joint checking account and/or savings account vs. maintaining your own personal accounts, then decide on the best fit for your unique financial situation(s).
  7. Feel out your financial roles — Sharing a household usually means sharing financial responsibilities, with each partner in the couple in charge of specific finance-related duties. Before you take the leap into marriage, have a talk about your mutual expectations regarding your future financial roles and responsibilities. Then, to pave a path for future understanding and agreement, decide who will handle regular money-related tasks such as paying bills, making investment decisions, building up savings and creating an emergency fund.
  8. If needed, seek professional financial advice — In most marriages, neither partner is an expert in personal finance. And when making big financial decisions such as setting up your retirement plan, starting a business, buying a home or even just deciding how many tax exemptions to claim, getting professional guidance can deliver big financial advantages, especially over the long haul. When you’re not sure what direction to take with a big family financial decision, don’t hesitate to ask for the advice of a trained financial expert to help you gain a better understanding of your options and which might best fit your personal situation and goals.

Proudly serving South Carolina since 1933, Arthur State Bank offers accounts and services to meet a variety of financial needs. To help you achieve all your financial goals, the bank offers in-person service as well as a range of convenient digital solutions. To learn how Arthur State Bank can help you with banking needs ranging from checking and savings to retirement accounts, mortgages, other personal loans and more, visit

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Man doing his banking online is the only source for free credit reports authorized by the federal government. Every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each agency.

Your credit report has your credit history for all of your credit accounts as well as any credit inquiries and public record court information such as collections. In addition, the report provides personally identifiable information such as your name, address, and employment.

Be sure to carefully review all three reports to identify any problem areas that you may need to clean up prior to applying for a mortgage. If there is any incorrect information, follow the reporting agency’s rules to correct it or add a notation to the report to explain the situation.

Your FICO Score is a score combines data from several areas include payment history, the amount owed, length of credit history, new accounts. Many lenders use this score as a guide. This score is not provided as part of the free annual credit report.

Learn more about how your credit score impacts your ability to secure a loan.


Couple looking over finances

Primary considerations for setting your housing budget require an assessment of your income, debt and current savings for the down payment on the home. The following are generally recommended guidelines; however, you should meet with an Arthur State Bank lender to get personalized mortgage information.


Couple meeting with lender

The pre-qualification/pre-approval letter is included with any offer you make on a house to inform the seller that you have met with a mortgage lender and you are prepared to make an offer. The letter states that based on certain assumptions, the bank is prepared to lend you up to a specified amount of money for a home mortgage.

When choosing a loan officer, we recommend going local to work with someone who understands your community’s real estate market. This blog on first-time home purchases includes questions to ask your lender that may be helpful when preparing for your meeting.

Helpful Resources:


Realtor shaking hands with a client

When a house is sold, the seller typically pays real estate commission to both the listing agent and the selling agent. It is extremely beneficial for the buyer to use their own real estate agent. Loan officers can often recommend selling agents in the area; ask your officer about realtor referrals when discussing your loan.

A good realtor will know the local market and can help you find an ideal home based on your budget, location and desired features. During your search, understand that you will most likely need to compromise on some items, so it’s important to identify your critical needs versus your wants.


Couple searching online for a home

Additionally, when you start with the house search and work backwards, homes can often go off the market while you’re completing steps 1-4. While browsing homes immediately can be tempting, we recommend following these steps in order so that, once you find your dream home, you’ll be well-positioned to take action immediately.

When you find the home you want and you think you are ready to put an offer on it, you will want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a solid offer.

  • Evaluate the neighborhood.
  • Drive by the house at different times of the day.
  • Examine how other houses in the neighborhood are maintained.
  • Consider any potential traffic or other disruptive noise.
  • Is there ample parking for you and visitors?
  • Read the details in any Homeowner Association agreements (HOA fees and rules).

Make sure to do a preliminary check of house details:

  • Check the water:
  • Does it have good pressure?
  • How long does it take to get the water hot?
  • Is it well water or city water?
  • Turn light switches on and off.
  • Open and close doors and windows to make sure they work properly.
  • Review previous utility bill expenses.
  • Consider the property tax bill.


Family meeting with realtor at new house

When writing an offer contract, be sure to pay attention to all of the details.

Offer Price:

Your agent should do a market analysis that pulls data on recently sold comparable houses. The best comparisons will come from the same neighborhood.

If you are asking for the seller to pay some of the closing costs, remember that this cost plus the sales commission determines the net amount you are offering the seller for the house.

Work with your agent on your negotiation strategy. There are many things to consider, such as how badly you want this particular house, whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market and an assessment of the seller’s motivation to get the property sold.

There isn’t one best strategy.

Be sure to document in writing everything you want included with the house, such as appliances, etc. Your agent should guide you through the contract step-by-step.


  • Home inspection.
  • Mortgage.
  • Final walk through (24 hours prior to closing).

Proposed closing date. Typically, this is 30-45 days from an accepted offer.

A good-faith deposit is required for the offer. This is typically between 1-10% of the purchase price of the house. The deposit is kept in escrow until closing and the money is applied to the purchase price of the house at closing. If the house does not close due to one of the contingency clauses, the buyer receives their money back. However, if the buyer decides not to close on the property, the seller may get the deposit money.

Attach your pre-approval letter to the offer.


Two people in professional meeting

The clock starts ticking for everything documented in the contract, including mortgage application, inspections and closing date.


Woman advising other woman on mortgage application

You will need to decide which mortgage to select prior to the application.

Plan for the following potential fees:

  • Application fee (many banks and mortgage companies charge an application fee; however, there is not an application fee at Arthur State Bank).
  • Credit check.
  • Appraisal (may be paid at closing).
  • Loan origination fee (paid at closing).

Once you have approval for your loan, make sure you don’t change anything that will impact the status of your mortgage. Banks do a final check on credit and jobs just prior to closing, so now is not the time to change jobs or make another purchase on credit such as a car or furniture.


Home inspector going over findings with home owner

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection can cost on average between $300 to $1000.

Many real estate contracts specify how problems uncovered in the inspection will be resolved, up to a certain dollar amount. Should necessary repairs exceed that amount, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract without penalty and receive their deposit money back. Another option is for the buyer and seller to renegotiate who will pay for additional repairs.


Woman happily holding keys to her new home
  • Homeowner’s insurance is required by the lender prior to closing on the loan.
  • Turn on utilities in your name, effective the closing date.
  • Change your address with the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Make moving arrangements.

Three days prior to closing:

  • You should receive your final Closing Disclosure from the closing agency. The final Closing Disclosure shows a column for the seller and a column for the buyer. All closing charges and credits for both the seller and the buyer are documented in the closing statement.
  • Review the closing statement for accuracy prior to coming to closing.
  • The final amount in the buyer’s column shows you the amount of money you need to pay at closing.

The closing office will provide specific payment instructions. Closing funds have become recent targets for cybercriminals. If you are asked to use a wire transfer, call the office and ask to speak to someone you have been working with to double-check the instructions.

Closing day:

In South Carolina, the closing will usually take place at the attorney’s office. Everyone signing for the mortgage must be present to sign the closing paperwork. Make sure you bring the following:

  • Cashier’s check or proof of payment for wire transfer.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Checkbook, just in case there are any additional items that were not on the closing statement.

Be sure to understand this information:

  • How and when you will pay:
  • Your mortgage.
  • Your property taxes.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance.
  • Any HOA dues.
  • Who to call with any questions.

The best practice is to go through the homebuyer’s roadmap in this sequence. However, if you jumped ahead early in your journey, just circle back to address the steps you missed.

Arthur State Bank’s loan officers are closely tapped into local real estate markets and experts at helping clients get what they need on terms that work for them. We also offer mortgage specials for first-time homebuyers.

To start planning your journey to your dream home, try out our mortgage calculator. If you’re ready to talk to a loan officer, contact Arthur State Bank to request personalized mortgage information today. Don’t forget to ask about our first-time homebuyer offer.