Screw Love. Are you financially compatible in your relationship? Important Money Topics to Discuss Before Marriage

Screw Love. Are you financially compatible in your relationship? Important Money Topics to Discuss Before Marriage

If you’re planning to jump the broom, it goes without saying that you love each other.

 

Well… unless it’s an indecent proposal or you guys have an arrangement.

“No judgment from me – Do you!”

 

As a lover of romance and any solid Rom-Com, I am not discounting the importance of love in relationships and marriage.

 

Hot, steamy, undying, can’t-nobody-tell-me-nothing love, can be fun, exhilarating and just downright sexy.

 

However, love itself won’t solve or prevent all problems, particularly when it comes to money and relationships.

 

Let’s keep it real, fighting about money sucks.

Before you go deeper as a couple , grab this FREE guide to help your money make more sense and stay on track to reach your financial goals.

 

Sometimes your plans, expectations, and behaviors with money are misaligned with your partner’s plans, expectations and behaviors.

 

Hence, the shouting matches over finances.

 

If you are already married or damn-near-married, there are ways to stop fighting over money.

 

Occasionally, those fights are necessary because your approach and habits are SO different from your partners.

 

Sometimes, the relationship can’t be salvaged because of those differences.

 

Even I have a few relationship deal killers of my own:

–        Stealing money from my purse or bank account

–        Getting credit in my name for use without my permission

–        Not paying any bills

 

All those offenses require little conversation, just the packing of his damn clothes and stepping to the left…to the left.

 

What are some of your hard line, “I ain’t playing with you” financial boundaries?

 

Maybe you already know the answers to some fundamental, but important questions like:

 

-Is your bae/boo/ future spouse a spender or saver?

 

-Does your partner have deep-rooted issues with money?

 

-Can you trust your significant other to handle all YOUR money, if needed?

 

-Are they controlling when it comes to money and how you spend it or do they plan to hand their paycheck over to you?

 

Hopefully, this post helps you go a bit deeper into you and your partner’s financial life or even consider what your hard “clothes packing” financial boundaries are.

 

The questions/topics below are designed to prompt you to have deeper, more thorough conversations with your partner about money and the role it will play in your relationship.

 

It’ll definitely serve its purpose if it saves you and your partner from future money fights!

 

The topics below can help you discover how aligned your financial philosophies are.

 

So, what do you need to do next?

 

Review the categories and determine what questions you’ve already covered in your relationship.

 

You will also be able to determine what categories you want to delve into with your mate.

 

I know, I know…you may not want to bring some of these things up.

 

Believe me, I understand that money conversations can be emotional and uncomfortable.

 

But let’s be honest, break-ups over money are worse – much more emotional and frustrating.

 

Ignorance is not bliss.

 

Sometimes it’s simply expensive.

 

Love and logic don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

 

Think about the role money has played in your past relationships or even the relationships of people you know. (We both know some ugly stories about people and their money fights)

 

It’s important to note that you are NOT recreating the Spanish Inquisition. The goal is not to prove who’s right or wrong. The goal is not to be hard-nosed and inflexible.

 

You should be using the topics below as a brainstorming tool to first, help you recognize if you are aware of your own position on these topics and second, determine if you and your partner are well aligned when it comes to money in a marriage.

 

There will be/should be areas where you are willing to compromise. However, it’s absolutely okay if & when you have areas that you don’t see eye-to-eye that you are less willing or unwilling to compromise on.

 

It is safe to have financial boundaries.

 

Real talk moment again – You may already be seeing red flags which is not uncommon in relationships, but what do they REALLY mean?  How much will they impact you in the future?  Are they deal killers that you are just trying to ignore?

 

Are you afraid to discuss certain topics because the hard truth may be that you just are not financially compatible and want to delay the impending breakup?  (See my ignorance comment above).

 

How many of your past breakups should have happened before they actually did?

 

We’ve already settled that you love each other. Now, are you willing to do the work to determine if you and your partner are financially compatible before you make a lifelong loving commitment?

 

Friendly reminder: Make note of the areas where you are unsure of your own position and take the time to consider it before your conversation or be upfront with your partner that you’re still trying to figure it out.

 

Money Management

Separate or Joint finances

    • You have various options to consider but the primary options are typically:
      • 1 primary joint checking account where both paychecks are deposited.
      • 1 primary joint checking or savings account where a set amount is transferred from each of you.
      • Joint everything.
      • Separate everything.
    • Ask your partner which option they prefer and what their experiences have been with the different options listed above.

Established emergency fund

    • How much money is important to have saved based on expenses, income, and level of job security. Here are a few areas to cover:
      • When was the last time you & your partner were unemployed and for how long?
      • When was your partner’s last promotion?
      • If your partner has been in the same role for a number of years, there are a number of things to consider:
        • (1) If they have maintained certifications or continuing education credits to keep their skills up-to-date.
        • (2) If they are at the top of their payscale
        • (3) The marketability of their skillset outside of their current employer (4) If below average performance is an issue in their current role (thus threatening their job stability)
      • How much are their monthly expenses?
      • How easy is it for others to get a job in their field?
      • How many sources of income do they have?
      • How much access to credit or other income sources do they have?

Bankruptcy

    • What are their general sentiments around bankruptcy?
      • Has it ever been filed? How many times? How long before it’s cleared?
    • What kind of bankruptcy did they file in the past? (Chapter 7 or 13)
    • Would they want to file bankruptcy again, if needed?

Credit/Debt Health

    • What is your partner’s Credit Score?
    • How many credit cards do they have? Do they available credit on the cards?
    • Do other people have access to their credit lines?
    • Are they a joint signer or co-borrower for someone else’s debt?
    • How does your partner feel about debt? (“striving to be debt free” versus “everyone dies with debt”)
    • Do they have collections or past due student loans?
    • Have they ever had a foreclosure or short sale and the circumstances around it?

Taxes

    • When was their most recent year of tax filing?
    •  Would they prefer to file Joint or Separate returns?
    • Do they understand how child support or back taxes can impact tax filings as a married couple?
    • Would they be offended if you filed for injured spouse relief? (injured spouse relief may allow you to obtain a tax refund (or a portion of the refund) when you partner’s tax liabilities would otherwise offset the refund)
    • Do they typically owe or receive refunds?
    • How much in do they owe in back taxes?

 

Living Arrangements

Cohabitation

    • How do you and your partner feel about living together before marriage?
    • Is your partner willing to move into your place or are there expectations to get a “new place” together?
    • Who should handle the management of bills and how will housework be divided?
    • How do they see expenses being divided (who pays what?) Do they believe in traditional domestic gender roles or are they open to anything?
    • Are they open to the idea of hiring help? (lawn service, housekeeper or cleaner, handyman, etc)
    • Would they be willing to sign a cohabitation agreement?
    • Who should pay for the furniture and moving expenses?

Renting versus Own

    • How does your partner feel about owning property?
    • How many properties has your partner owned in the past?
    • How many properties does your partner currently own?
    • Is your partner comfortable with only one name being on the lease?
    • Has your partner had past evictions?
    • Would they prefer a longer or shorter mortgage (15 years versus 20 or 30 years)?
    • Have they ever had a foreclosure or short sale and the circumstances around it (yes, it’s a repeat from above because it’s important)

Family Support

    • Is your partner supportive or opposed to parents or other family members moving in?
    • Is your partner supportive or opposed to financially supporting parents or other family members?
    • How much is a reasonable amount of family support?

Children

Child Support

    • How much is being paid in child support per month?
    • Is your partner current or in arrears with child support?
    • Are child support payments court ordered or an informal arrangement?
    • When was the last time your child support amount was reviewed?
    • Will your custody and/or support agreement be affected if we move in together?
    • Are they willing to opt out of receiving child support after you marry? (not recommending this, btw, but you/they might want to know)

Financial Support for Adult Children

    • What age is too old for an adult child to live at home?
    • How much is financial support reasonable to provide to an adult child?
    • Should adult children pay bills while living at home?
    • What is a reasonable amount of money for an adult child to contribute?

Allowance

    • What’s a good age to provide allowance?
    • What items should a child be made to pay for with their own money, if any?
    • How much is a reasonable amount of allowance to provide to a pre-teen versus a teenager?

 

Children’s Education

    • Do they have a college fund or savings establish for your kids (or plans to establish one in the future)
    • How does your partner feel about paying tuition for elementary or secondary school?
    • How does your partner feel about paying for college?
    • Do they want their kids to take out student loans?
    • Have they already co-signed for student loans?
    • Would your partner prefer they stay on campus or live at home during college?
    • Would they rather the child go to an in-state or out-of-state college?
    • Are they aware of the difference in cost for (Instate versus Out-of-state)?
    • Are they open to take out parent loans for their college tuition?
    • Do they expect you to help fund tuition of children born prior to your relationship?

Protection

  • Do they believe in prenups, postnups, or cohabitation agreements?
  • Do they have or support paying for the following insurance:
    • Life Insurance
    • Health Insurance
    • Auto Insurance
    • Property Insurance
    • Renters Insurance
    • Disability Insurance
    • Long-term care insurance
    • Critical Illness Insurance

Travel

  • Does your partner enjoy traveling?
  • Do they prefer 1 or 2 big trips or a handful of small trips annually?
  • What should the financial split be (50/50, alternating, depends on who picks, etc)
  • Do they prefer to travel in small groups or larger groups?
  • What’s the most amount of money they have ever spent on a trip?

Career Planning

  • How long do they plan to be in their current position or with their current company?
  • What are their career aspirations?
  • When was the last time a promotion was awarded?
    • This question can lead to other questions such as:
    • Is the role at risk of elimination or lay off?
    • Have they peaked in their career?
    • Is this the last role before retirement?
    • Or is there minimal career progression with their current employer or role?
  • Are they at the bottom, mid-point or top of the pay scale for their current role?
  • Do they have plans to continue their education to grow in their career?

 

Retirement Expectations

  • What do they think about Social Security and how dependent are they or plan to be on Social Security income?
  • Do they make regular contributions to an employer retirement plan?
  • Do they make contributions to other retirement accounts?
  • Have they taken early withdrawals from 401k, IRA, or other plans?
  • Do they have any loans against their 401K?
  • Do they own any stock of their employer (direct equity or Employee Share Purchase Plan)?

 

Investments

  • Are they interested in investing in the stock market?
  • Have they ever lost money in the stock market or another major investment?
  • How would they describe their risk tolerance? (risk averse, risk taker or somewhere in between)
  • Do they have an interest or experience in real estate investing?
  • Have they ever invested in the business of a family or friend?
  • Do they prefer to manage their own investments or have someone do it for them?

 

Whew! That was a lot!

 

Hopefully, you read a few of those questions and thought “Do I?”, “Will I?” or “Damn, that’s a good question.”

 

If so, this post has served you well! Don’t stop here – keep going!

Action Steps

  • Make a list of the topics you would like to cover with your partner. Share this post with your partner so that they can do the same.
  • Commit to a time and date to discuss some of the topics above (and more, if needed).
  • Take your time with the topics, it can be overwhelming for you and your partner to tackle in one sitting.  Tackle topics bit by bit.
  • Think about using a safe word when conversations get to heated.
  • If you are already married and have been fighting over money, check out this post for a few tips to reduce them.
  • If you are looking for more tips, rules and ACTION STEPS to manage your own financial life, grab this FREE guide to help your money make more sense and stay on track to reach your financial goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the founder & primary personal financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners avoid common financial mistakes during a divorce or after a recent uncoupling. She is keenly focused on helping women confidently maintain their financial security with proven strategies for living with a budget, managing debt, and improving their credit score. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE 2019 Ultimate Resource Guide HERE.  

 

How to Make Money Conversations Less Awkward

How to Make Money Conversations Less Awkward

Stop whatcha doin’, cuz I’m about to ruin…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(If you know the song, I bet you couldn’t help finishing that line)   

I actually only want to ruin your belief that money conversations are awkward or hard.

That’s it. Simple, right?

I know that discussions about money can be uncomfortable and as humans we naturally fight any discomfort.

Just think about the last time you were in an elevator.

When you entered, maybe there was one person already there. You walked to the opposite wall of the elevator.

Maybe you exchange verbal pleasantries, maybe not.

 

For the next 10-20 seconds, you plan to ride in silence, avoid making eye contact and stare at the elevator buttons as if they’re the most fascinating you’ve ever seen.

 

Then you realize there’s a foul odor (I mean F-O-U-L) and you’re trying to figure out if it’s really possible for a smell like that to be coming from this unknown human nearby.

 

Ding! Time to get off (Thank God)!

 

Maybe you say goodbye as you hurry off at your floor ( likely not because you were holding your breath until the coast is clear!)

Those few seconds of awkwardness don’t stop you from riding elevators because they are a necessity for you to get things done efficiently.

Guess what! So are your money conversations (wink, wink)

While it might not be worth your time to address the awkwardness in elevators, it’s a worthwhile effort to make your money conversations less awkward with your family and friends.

Money conversations can cover numerous topics and therefore spur a ton of emotions.

If you want your family to be open with you about their financial goals and concerns then you first, have to be open with them.

 

Give a little, get a little…

While my previous blog post focused on marriage and how to keep money fights to a minimum, this post shows you ways to jumpstart the conversation with your family and friends about your intentions around your financial goals.

If you want to help make your money conversations less awkward, then it’s important to start with transparency.

 

Use transparency to knock discomfort the hell out of your way.

 

Just be sure that your tone matches your intentions. For example, starting a conversation off with “we need to talk” is probably not the best idea.

 

Romantic Relationships

In case you need a little more help talking to the love of your life, I thought we could start here.

When there have been financial mistakes in a relationship they need to be acknowledged before you can move on.

First, accept responsibility for your mistakes, then make sure you show empathy for your partner’s mistakes.

This helps your discussions start in a neutral position and can help your partner accept the impending change.

A script similar to the one below can be used as a starting point to get your partner to understand your perspective.

Parental Relationships

Your money conversations do have to be like elevator rides. You don’t have to get on and off at the same floors every day. Visit different topics depending on the areas of your life that require the most attention.

 

This is particularly important when it comes to having money conversations with your parents or your children.

 

It is common to hit roadblocks when talking about finances with your family as some topics are inherently more uncomfortable than others.

 

When you are the breadwinner and you live pretty comfortably sometimes your children (adult and minor children) behave as if money falls off trees or like your paycheck is THEIR paycheck.

At times, your parents might be guilty of this too.

If this is the case, it may be time for a change.

 

That message of change may be hard for you to deliver and harder for your loved ones to hear.

 

The scripts below may be a helpful way to inform the family that a changing is coming!

 

Platonic Relationships

Are you the friend that can’t say “No”?

Do you have plans to save money but feel bad turning down a night of tequila and tacos with your best friends?

Do you genuinely just want to go because you love life and you love having a good time (plus you love tacos and tequila)?

When you don’t have the discipline to say NO, you need to empower your inner circle to hold you accountable. Give them permission to speak up when you might be falling off track of reaching your financial goals.

Talk to them about the support you need and allow them to be a part of your progress.

Using a script similar to the one below can help you get support and make saying NO much less awkward.

 

Craft your jump start script based on your own personal relationship dynamics and communicate with patience and genuineness.

Shifting your relationship with money takes time and requires patience with yourself. Getting your family on board requires, even more, patience and understanding.

 

The next time you get on the elevator, speak up and acknowledge everyone who’s on. It may feel pretty weird but you’re really just pushing past some discomfort. It’s merely a lab test and they’re the test dummies.

 

Some may respond to you and some may not, but you did your part by kicking off a conversation.

 

Over the years, I’ve had learned some pretty interesting things about strangers while on an elevator.

 

Imagine what your family can learn about you and how easy your family money conversations could be if you set the stage properly.

If you’re looking to take your financial life to the next level grab the 12 Modern Rules & Action Steps for Building Your Financial Dreams and Making Your Dollars Make More Sense. 

 

 

 

 

Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the founder & primary personal financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners avoid common financial mistakes during a divorce or after a recent uncoupling. She is keenly focused on helping women confidently maintain their financial security with proven strategies for living with a budget, managing debt, and improving their credit score. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE 2019 Ultimate Resource Guide HERE.  

 

Tips to Keep Money Fights Out of Your Marriage

Tips to Keep Money Fights Out of Your Marriage

Dearly beloved…for richer, for poorer…

 

 

 

Money is so serious that it’s in your marriage vows!

Whether you’ve jumped the broom or are preparing to do so, this post is to help you keep money fights out of your marriage.

Money isn’t a topic that generally comes up during the “getting-to-know-you” phase and if it does, we don’t usually spend a lot of time diving deep into it.

While I’m all about both partners preparing for the best marriage possible I have a slight bias towards women having a good pulse on their own finances because of a few key statistics:

  • According to the Center for Disease Control, women live about five years longer than men;
  • The Census Bureau reports women’s earnings are currently about 78% of men’s and women have a higher propensity to live in poverty over the age of 65 compared to men;
  • Women are known to save and invest less money over time when compared to men.

With statistics like that, I know it’s critically important for women to spend time making sure our financial affairs are in order before we get into a relationship and definitely before a marriage.

Let’s get right down to business with tip #1!

#1 Patience
Yep! Patience!

If you’re frustrated just from reading the word there’s a possibility that you don’t have enough of it (just saying).

We all know that being in a relationship requires an incredible amount of compromise and patience. Matters of the heart and matters related to money are quite similar in that way.

Have you ever tried saving for a new house, a new car, funding college AND saving for retirement all at once.

It’s like taking advanced calculus and advanced organic chemistry in the same semester!

Difficult!

It’s difficult to save for multiple big ticket items while trying to maximizing retirement and investment opportunities.

You might need to delay the purchase or rework your retirement plan all together.

A lack of patience is a sure-fire way to keep the fights going in a marriage.

#2 Discuss your individual financial principles and philosophies early & often
Self-awareness is imperative to emotional intelligence and can actually help you select the right partner.

When you’re in a relationship it’s equally important to understand your partner’s decision-making process and abilities.

A high level of emotional intelligence in a relationship allows you to be aware of your partner’s emotional health and personality while managing your reactions to their emotional energy.

It can also help keep fights in your marriage to a minimum and help you understand your partner’s financial principles and philosophies.

Learn your partner’s money route – find out how their life experiences shaped their relationship with money.

Start simple by:

Asking how they feel about money
What their earliest memories of money are
Understanding their debt situation and financial goals

Listen to my interview on the Legendary Marriage Podcast as we explore this topic more.

 

According to a 2013 Pew Research Center study, 4 out of 10 marriages are second marriages.

In second marriages, the same items are still important but there’s added complexity.

You also need to roll up your sleeves to understand your partner’s perspective on preserving, sharing and protecting the assets they already have.

Let’s be honest.  Just because they had money when you met them, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get it. 

On top of that, it’s important to know your own perspective (see my self-awareness comment above)!

If your new union will be blessed with bonus children, do you understand what plans are in place for the children’s protection and care? Do you know if it’s more important to your partner to teach wealth building principles to your children versus living for the moment?

In the thick of love, money & marriage…

Cake topper figurines of a married couple sitting on a cake.

#3 Understand that a marriage is both transactional and relational
Maybe the comments above about preserving and protecting assets gave you the hebbie jebbies. After all, it’s not the most romantic topic.

Hold on to your creeped out hats, folks!

As you know, marriages and some businesses are referred to as partnerships.

I’ve witnessed enough business partnerships go south because of high emotions or crazy ass behavior. I’m sure you’ve witnessed a marriage or two dissolve for similar reasons.

Transactional relationships are about an individual’s self-interests and what works best for them.

Relational relationships are about long term acceptance and choosing mutually beneficial options.

So why does that matter to you?

There will be times when decisions feel more transactional than relational. It may feel as if your partner is acting a bit more selfish than selfless (remember that time you wanted to stick a fork in his eye).

The same may be said about you. I promise that those times are often related to money.

The same Pew Research Center survey mentioned above indicates that when considering marriage financial stability ranks last!

We all know that we place a muuuuuch higher reliance on emotional aspects when deciding to get married and I am not suggesting to ignore those emotions.

However, I am suggesting to be aware when emotions, traditions or the fear of losing love, prevents us from talking about less sexy, but important, topics such as finances and financial goals.

Money is already emotional and when you add the complexities of a marriage, it brings a literal sense to the phrase emotional roller coaster.

When someone decides to start a business partnership, they are concerned about the viability of the business, the opportunity to make money and generally make a difference in their families, communities or the world.

They are concerned about both the transactional and relational aspects.

Those same considerations apply for marriage.

#4 it’s okay to break the rules
There are so many rules and traditions when it comes to marriage that is often hard to keep up.

It’s also difficult to break traditions because it makes us uncomfortable.

Heck, it even makes our family’s uncomfortable.

While it’s harder for us to adapt to change, usually it’s necessary.

Here are two examples related to marriage and money.

1.You don’t have to have joint accounts
(Gasp!)

If you have different financial philosophies than your partner it may make sense to start out your marriage with separate accounts.

If you have joint accounts today and you find yourselves butting heads over money, try splitting accounts.

Some marriages have success with keeping accounts separate forever but having one or two joint accounts for household and familial responsibilities. On the other hand, some join their finances after they get a good footing in the marriage. Having joint accounts just because that’s “what married couples do” is not a good enough reason.

Regardless of the action you choose, it’s always important to make sure that each individual feels that they have some amount of financial autonomy.

2. Discussing money is not taboo
How many times have you heard it’s not polite to talk about money? Maybe you’ve been shut down when you ask questions because “it’s not the right time.”

Of course, I talk about money for a living so my comfort level is higher than most, but it’s important for you to:
– have planned family financial discussions
– assemble your personal financial team

The days of “your _____________ (insert mother/father) handles all the finances and I don’t know anything” statements should be over.

I encourage you to be a part of purchasing decisions for big ticket items as well as smaller ticket items.

I know money can be sensitive and emotionally overwhelming at times to discuss, however, I encourage you to be FIIRM and not avoid the conversations.

While marriage may be bliss, financial ignorance is truly not.

Many may say “for richer, for poorer” but I can’t think of anyone truly interested in the poorer part.

Grab your Couple’s Financial Checklist to discover the items covered in this blog post as well as some extra details to help you and your partner stay on track to keep money fights out of your marriage.

 

 

Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the founder & primary personal financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners avoid common financial mistakes during a divorce or after a recent uncoupling. She is keenly focused on helping women confidently maintain their financial security with proven strategies for living with a budget, managing debt, and improving their credit score. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE 2019 Ultimate Resource Guide HERE.  

 

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