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

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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.

 

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.  

 

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