Money. It's one of the most important things couples should talk about. But it's often the most difficult topic to breach before you tie the knot.

(Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of blogs by LaRaine McCoy of McCoy Wealth Advisorswith information about finances relating to relationships.)

By LaRaine McCoy

Money. It's one of the most important things couples should talk about. But it's often the most difficult topic to breach before you tie the knot.

Financial discussions can leave you feeling exposed and vulnerable - especially when you're trying to put your best face forward in the early stages of a relationship. Here are a few critical money conversations you must brave together before taking the relationship to the next level.

Sharing Money Philosophies Before Marriage

Two people in a partnership spending differently can raise serious issues. Before you move in together or marry, it's important to become aware of, and comfortable with, one another's money philosophes and financial habits. Here are four foundational questions you should ask.

How do you make decisions about major purchases? Purchasing behavior often stems from upbringing. Were your parents smart with money? Did your partner grow up in a home where money was always tight? Understanding your respective backgrounds can provide some much needed perspective. What are your bill-paying habits? Do you tackle them all at once or stagger them through the month? Do you pay them on time or tuck them away in a drawer, unopened? Does your partner spend money he or she doesn't have? Are you or your partner in major debt? If so, what steps (if any) are being taken to fix it? Does your partner have a plan with money? What are your limits? Love is blind - but it's important to enter into a deeper relationship with your eyes wide open. How much financial baggage are you willing to tolerate?

Mixing Money Before Marriage

For many couples, the most pressing question is whether or not to combine finances into a single account before marriage.

To some, blending finances is a symbol of love, indicating trust and permanence in the relationship. To others, being forced to blend finances can feel like an unwelcome attempt at control or dominance. While neither way of thinking is necessarily true, it's important to discuss your feelings with your partner.

Blending finances for bill-paying purposes may be convenient and helpful, especially if you're living together. However, even if you're ready to establish a joint account, consider maintaining separate personal accounts for financial flexibility.

Each relationship is unique and comes with its own set of financial considerations. When it comes to co-mingling money,keep this mantra in mind: "If in doubt - don't!"

The success of a relationship should not hinge on whether you blend finances. Discuss the topic with your partner and decide what makes you both feel most comfortable. While you may not be open to sharing account numbers yet, communication and transparency are essential to laying a strong foundation for the future.

For more on this topic, view this video fromMcCoy Wealth Advisors.

LaRaine McCoy is part of McCoy Wealth Advisors, a husband-and-wife financial advising team committed to supporting the Women of Direct Sales.

Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through H. Beck, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC., a Registered Broker Dealer & Registered Investment Advisor. McCoy Wealth Advisors, LLC is not affiliated with H. Beck, Inc. Branch office is located at 409-A W. Main St, Westerville, OH 43081, tele# 614-212-1188.