You’ve probably talked about how many kids you want to have, what the view will look like from your rockers when you’re old and even the flavour of your wedding cake — but before you say, “I do” there’s one very important topic you need to discuss with your future spouse: money!
Financial strain is said to be the leading cause of friction in at least 35 percent of relationships.
Talking about these important financial questions before you get married could help set you up for a better scenario down the road — or help you avoid a financially harrowing situation.
1. How much debt do you have?
It’s important for couples to think through how they will approach each other’s debt loads. Does his debt become your debt? Make sure neither of you are making an assumption in this area before you tie the knot.
2. What is the maximum one of us can spend without consulting the other?
You don’t want to wake up one morning to an expensive new toy bought on Amazon that you knew nothing about. At the same time, you might not want every purchase scrutinized. Decide what the threshold is for purchases you have to disclose to one another in advance.
3. Who is in charge of paying the bills?
Will you take a joint approach to paying your bills, filing your taxes or investing? Or will one partner assume responsibility over this for both of you?
4. What approach will we take if relatives or close friends ask for a loan?
And does your approach change if it’s a very close family member asking for a loan? Or if your parents become ill and need support?
5. Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
You might not know until you ask!
6. Do you have any money saved? Or, what is your investment philosophy?
Your partner might have totally different investment strategies than you. Perhaps they like to aggressively play the stock market, or maybe they’re the type to hide cash in a coffee can under their bed. It’s a good idea to clarify how they invest any money they have and what your strategy could look like moving forward together.
7. Do you use a monthly budget? How do you stick to your budget?
The purpose of this question is finding out what your partner’s spending habits are like. If they buy name brand everything while you stick to the sale items to stay on budget, this could create tension. Find out just how on top of it your partner is by asking about their process — how do they stay on budget? What sacrifices do they make? What apps or technology do they use to track their spending? How often do they check their accounts? The answers to these questions will be very revealing.
8. What did you learn from your parents about money growing up?
Not only will this give you insight into your partner’s financial upbringing — habits they might have picked up from their parents that could be hard to change — but it also opens the conversation up to talk about how you want to teach your own children about their finances.
9. Would you prefer to keep our accounts separate, merge them, or a combination of the two? Why?
Maybe you’re the type who couldn’t imagine what a marriage would even look like if you had separate accounts. Or perhaps you aren’t at the point where you fully trust your future spouse’s spending habits and you want to ease into merging your finances. Wherever you sit with the idea, it’s important to have the discussion about how you will approach your accounts long before you get to the altar.
10. How do you feel about one of us making more money than the other?
This could get awkward but it’s important to bring up — what if one of you makes way more than the other? How would your spouse feel about being supported by you or vice versa? If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.