NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Getting married isn't just a union based on love, but one often beset by at least one partner's financial troubles. Before you stand at the altar, it is important to know where you stand financially as a couple. You aren't just joining together your hopes and dreams, but also combining your money habits, spending patterns and even past debt. As both the average marriage age and student debt loads rise, it is likely at least one partner will enter the marriage with significant debt. The average student loan debt is now more than $25,000, and the average credit card debt is almost $5,000 per borrower. These debts can cause significant stress on a new marriage. Revealing all debts early can ease the stress, and help the new couple start paying it down as soon as possible.
Getting married does not automatically make you responsible for debts incurred by your spouse before the marriage. Your partner's debt will only show up on your credit history once you are added to the accounts. However, the debt will still affect you when it comes to your household's income since there will be a lot less money to save, pay other bills or spend in ways that are much more enjoyable than debt payments. Here are 10 financial tips for newlyweds:
Compare spending habits. Don't assume your spouse shares your beliefs about money--the spending and saving habits may surprise you. Watch how they use money. A free spender before marriage will probably be a free spender after marriage. Before the wedding, reveal everything in your financial closet. Be honest about your income, debts, and money problems. Bring out your bank statements from the past twelve months to show what you did with your money. Discuss your strengths and weaknesses with money. Each of you should get a copy of your credit reports from the three credit bureaus. This will give you a clear picture of credit accounts, debts, and how creditors will judge you. Aim to get your scores over 750 to receive the lowest interest rates for your first mortgage and other loans. If your partner has been married before, find out about their financial obligations to the ex-spouse and children. Have a wedding and honeymoon you can pay off in a year. The wedding of your dreams can become a nightmare if you are still paying interest on it years later. Avoid credit card debt. The best rule of thumb is simply, "if you can't pay for something with cash, you can't afford it."