5 Money Questions to Ask Before You Marry

You may think you’re a perfect match, but one of the biggest compatibility tests is merging finances.

You may think you’re a perfect match, but one of the biggest compatibility tests is merging finances
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Who is paying what? Angela Thompson, an assistant professor of sociology at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, says you should also come up with answers to questions like: "How will money be handled in your household? Joint checking account? Separate checking accounts or a combination of the two? Who is in charge of paying bills and preparing taxes? Is it fair to have one person be responsible for paying the bills for the rest of your married life? On the other hand, what if one person is really organized and the other isn't? By default, does the organized person have to be the one to pay the bills?"

[See: 50 Smart Money Moves.]

And if you haven't already, Thompson says, this is the time to ask yourself a few questions. For instance, if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend with a gambling or shopping problem, is that a problem for you, and how are you prepared to live with that?

Some other good questions, offers Rhoades: "What kind of lifestyle do you see us living, and how much will it cost? What is your approach to saving and investing? Meaning, how important is saving for retirement? Our children's college? Are you a risk-taker?"

The point of asking a lot of questions isn't to map out your entire marriage, but to see if you both truly are financially compatible, or if you're actually two future clients for divorce lawyers. In fact, if you're marrying, Ulin suggests that in the months before you say, "I do," the most important person you should consult with as a couple isn't the wedding planner – it's a financial planner.