First comes love, then comes…financial discussions?
Sure, talking about money may not be the most romantic thing in the world, but it is important in any relationship. Whether you are just starting to get serious with your partner or you’ve been married for years, there is no better time than the present to talk about cash.
Let’s back up a bit. This doesn’t mean that you should ask financial questions on a first date. Yet, if things get more serious, it is vital to know where your partner stands financially. In fact, according to a recent Experian survey, 59 percent of those who have been divorced say finances played a role in the breakup of their marriages. Furthermore, 20 percent of these people went on to say that financial conflict was a significant factor in their divorce.
To avoid major financial issues with your partner, it’s important to be the same page when it comes to saving money and prioritizing financial goals. Ready to talk about money with your love interest? Here are 5 money-related questions you should ask your partner – starting right now.
1. What are your financial goals?
Asking your partner about his or her financial goals is a relatively broad question, and this makes it the perfect conversation starter. Once you understanding your partner’s goals, you’ll then have a better idea of how to support him.
So, ask your partner about his or her short-term and long-term financial goals. How does he or she envision the future? What type of lifestyle does he imagine? As long as your partner is willing to open up and share information, this is a great starting point. It will hopefully offer up a way to naturally guide your conversation.
2. What’s your current debt situation?
Before you become serious with your partner, it’s vital to know what you’re getting yourself into. Down the road, if you want to get married, your partner’s debt will become your own. While this may not be a big deal for some people, it may be a make it or break it factor for you.
So, find out if your partner has debt. If so, what actions is he taking to pay it off? Does he have a solid debt-repayment plan?
Debt doesn’t necessarily have to be a deal breaker. If your partner has a realistic plan to pay it off, then you can rest easy. On the other hand, you may want to think twice before you get too serious with someone who is taking no action to pay off $100,000 of debt. This type of monumental debt can put a serious strain on your relationship.
3. What leisurely spending do you refuse to give up?
We all like to spend money in different ways – and in different amounts. This means we don’t always agree when it comes to spending choices. Failing to understand and accept how your partner spends money can create a major barrier in your relationship.
For instance, when my husband and I were dating, I couldn’t understand why he spent so much money on his favorite hobby – golf. Secretly, I was upset at how much he was spending. It wasn’t until we talked about it that I understood the importance of personal spending priorities. Golf was important to him.
Once we discussed this, we both understood the concept of individual spending freedom. Although we have since merged our finances, we still each get to spend a certain amount of money each month – on whatever we want.
4. Do you have plans to return to school?
Graduate school isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires a huge time commitment, not to mention a large financial obligation. In fact, according to Peterson’s, the average cost of graduate school is $30,000 at a public university, or $40,000 at a private college.
Many people desire to go back to school for one reason or another, but the decision can’t be made in the spur of a moment. Why? It takes two to tango when you’re in a relationship. Graduate school may require you to live on your partner’s income while you work toward a degree.
In short, graduate school is more than just a financial decision – it’s a lifestyle choice. If your significant other is considering graduate school, it’s time to start preparing.
5. How can we handle our finances together?
As a committed couple, you undoubtedly have many shared expenses. Do you have a plan in place to manage your finances – together?
For instance, how can you manage money together so you both reach your financial goals? How will you pay for dates? What about shared expenses, such as travel? If you live together, how should you best split rent and utility payments?
To avoid future frustration or resentment, talk about how you would like to handle finances together. Whether you split everything 50/50 or one of you pays more than the other, make it a point to create a system that works for both of you.
Happy Finances Lead to Happy Relationships
As a couple, you want to ensure that you meet your savings goals and financial commitments – together. By having money conversations on the regular, you’ll have an opportunity to talk through financial challenges and figure out how to achieve your money goals.
Just remember to be honest. This way you’ll avoid resentment and be on your way to a healthy and happy financial relationship.