You have known each other for a while now. You are looking at the final product, and what you have not known you will probably not know. Deep within, you are convinced it is time to make the big move and start another chapter of your life.
After all, this is all you wanted, and this is what has always been the drive behind your back- the desire to have that one big happy family free from financial strain. You are ready for this, aren’t you?
Marriage is tough. Money is also tough. If you combine the two without taking proper prior preparations for a seamless transition, it can lead to marital problems. You may be heading straight to an abyss of that financial strain you have always strived to evade.
Why Have a Money Talk Before Marriage?
Before you decide to marry each other, you have probably done a compatibility test, blood group tests, HIV, VDRL, and thalassemia test for your future and the future of your kids.
You have possibly agreed on the number of children you want to have, the schools you want them to attend, and maybe even gone to the extremes to decide their genders and the careers you want them to pursue.
Have you, however, considered how you are going to finance all these amazing plans? All of them need money and more money. Have you planned a road map for your financial future together as a married couple?
Couples are supposed to share everything but tend to avoid one crucial conversation, before marriage, and that is having a candid money talk.
Research by SunTrust Bank of over 2000 couples revealed that only half discussed financial issues before getting married. This is despite 88% admitting that this is a key discussion.
The underlying question, therefore, is, why don’t couples discuss financial plans before marriage? You probably haven’t talked about financial issues with your partner due to either of the following reasons.
16 Money Questions to Ask Your Partner Before Saying “I Do”
1. Are You Spending Money on Things That Are Really Important to You?
You should find out if there are things in your budget that you can comprise or make do without when both of you finally decide to streamline your budgets
2. What Can You Do to Increase Your Income?
You may be misled to think that there will be more money to spend and even spare since both of you will be pooling resources. Remember that your needs and wants will also be increasing with time.
Soon, after you are married, kids will be coming, and you will need a bigger house to accommodate the newcomers, you may even need a bigger family car. Children are gifts that come with tons of responsibilities.
It is, therefore, essential to find and explore available ways of increasing your salary.
3. What Is Your True Wage Per Hour?
After deduction of transport costs, costs of clothes and productive time spent getting to work, how much are you actually earning hourly. Find out how you can minimize these extra costs and improve your productivity per hour.
4. How Would Your Budget Look Like If You Were Not Paying Any Debts?
If you had no debts to pay in your budget, where would you channel that money? Would you consider boosting your savings and opting for early retirement? What impact will that have on your general take and talk about money? In this manner, you will learn more about your financial perceptions.
5. Why Are You Not Achieving Your Financial Goals?
Why are you not acting on your decisions aimed at boosting your financial security? Is its impulse buying? Are you afraid of the unknown? What are the solutions to these challenges, and how can your partner chip in?
You have honestly examine yourself, identifying your strengths, and embrace your flaws. Now you are ready to share and learn more about your partner.
6. Do You Understand Your Debt, Assets, and Expenses?
Being in too much debt is a burden; debts in the right amounts can set you moving. It would help if you asked your partner to share with you their current obligations as you do the same. Advisedly, you should focus on helping one another servicing your current liabilities and consult with each other before taking any loans in the future.
When all things crumble, it is your family that will always be there for you. Both you and your partner, in this faith, should not shy from revealing your financial assets to one another.
Ask your partner to share with you the expenses that they have at the moment. This is to help ensure that none of you is burdened when sharing financial duties later in the relationship. It also helps both of you unanimously agree on unnecessary expenses to cut down on your budgets.
7. Will You Operate a Joint Account or Not?
Think about a massive boat in the middle of the lake. This colossal vessel has two large outboard motors. The mental image that you are having is of two ships with one steering wheel, right? When you turn the steering wheel, both motors move towards a similar direction in sync.
What if the same vessel has two separate steering wheels, each for the motors on either side. How well and efficient will it be possible to drive the boat? That is the exact situation you are likely to find yourself in if you are operating two distinct, separate bank accounts after marriage.
The decision on whether to go joint or separate should be mutual and seamless. Alternatively, you can have one joint account for the family while you still operate your separate account.
8. How Did Your Parents Handle Money, and How Did it Impact You?
Being human, both you and your partner are social beings who grew up learning from your sociocultural settings. It would be best if you had very open and candid discussions of how you might have been affected by how your parents handled money.
You can then resolve to seek guidance and help from a financial expert or not depending on how dire your situation is.
9. How to Handle Dynamic Financial Shifts
Ask your partner any contingency plans they have in case there comes challenges that could threaten your financial security or those of your future kids.
What if either of you had an accident and became permanently disabled? A disaster could claim both of your lives, in what conditions will you be leaving your children?
What measures do you have in place for disability and life assurance? Both you and your partner should decide on reliable risk insurance and life assurance policy covers for your family. Accidents may never be preventable, but you have the power to choose on how adverse its effects will be to you, your partner, and your loved ones.
10. Are You a Saver or a Spender?
Conventionally, ladies are considered to be spendthrifts than their male counterparts, but this is not cast on a tombstone. I know of men who were it not for the strictness of their wives, would have sold their liver and kidneys to sustain their insatiable spending habits.
If both of you are spenders or you find that both of you are savers, then there comes trouble. Either way, there must be one of you who is more of a saver than the other. There must be one person who will help keep the other party’s head straight and focused.
11. Your Individual and Joint Goals
Have a meaningful discussion on your individual and joint goals, both long-term and short term. You will find that there are goals that you have in common and others that are unique to either of you.
It will be imperative to have a harmonized calendar of well-illustrated dates mapping the various goals. This will help you push and encourage one another to achieve your goals, both joint and individual.
Both of you will also mutually agree on the goals that you can either temporarily or permanently suspended for the greater good of the family.
12. Who Will Be Responsible for Which Financial Responsibilities?
It will be hard to think that only one person will shoulder all the financial responsibilities of the family unless the other partner is not in a position to chip in. You should both mutually divide the financial responsibilities in a manner that none of you is overloaded.
This will instil in both of you a sense of ownership and responsibility in the family. These financial duties should be devised based on responsibilities and expenses that one already has and should not jeopardize your goals.
Better still, you can have a joint account to take care of long-term responsibilities like your children’s education and health.
13. If There Are Children from a Previous Relationship, Who Will Be Financially Responsible for Their Upbringing?
This is a very contentious issue and could cause many misunderstandings if not carefully well taken care of with due diligence. Mostly, children, whether from without or born from your union, all deserve basic care – food, shelter, clothing, and education.
You ought to consult with your partner and agree on how and who will financially facilitate these children from previous relationships. Arrangements should be made so that they don’t feel left out and like they are not part of the family.
14. How Will You Respond to Extended Family Members Who Will Seek Financial Assistance from You?
Quite often, concentration is on the nuclear family when making key financial decisions, forgetting that the extended family is also part of your family.
It is a common narrative that when extended family members come asking for financial assistance, people are often caught unawares. Remember that any expenses outside your financial plan will be a significant setback.
What then? Both of you should agree on the best ways to handle such a situation in a careful way such that you don’t affect your relationship with the extended family while at the same time keeping on track towards your financial goals.
You could even have the miscellaneous part of your budget big enough to handle such financial shocks.
15. Will You Take Care of Your Ageing Parents?
You have reached where you are because of a job well done by your parents. They are long retired and no longer have monthly salaries. What is your plan for them?
Are you planning to take them to a home for the elderly once they click a certain age? Will you have someone help them from home? Parents may not often demand this, but it is just courteous enough to take care of them when they age.
Both you and your partner, in case you are planning to provide care for your aging parents, should have financial mechanisms and plans put in place to help in this.
16. Will You Require the Services of a Financial Advisor or Not?
The workload will be too much, and you will be having both your issues to be handling and joint assets to monitor.
Both of you can, therefore, decide to seek help from a financial advisor, primarily to manage your joint assets as you concentrate on your personal projects.
Finding the right financial advisor can sometimes be an uphill task. Before settling on the correct person to hire,
Here Are the Key Questions You Should Ask Your Financial Advisor:
#1. Are They Fiduciary – Working in the Client’s Interest or Not?
#2. How Do They Expect to Be Paid?
Be very keen when checking for the mode of payment. Financial advisors should help you grow financially and nit fleece money from you. Try and find one that requires a “fee-only” and not commission-based payment.
#3. How Qualified Are They?
#4. How Will You Relate With Them?
What level of accessibility will you and your partner have with the advisor? Will you be communicating through email, mail, texts, or calls?
#5. Who Is Their Custodian?
Standard practice requires that your advisor gets a custodian, someone, or a company to physically handle your investments. It is important to know who the custodian is.
#6. What Are the Subsequent Taxes You Will Need to Pay?
Services, just like goods come along with some taxes. It would be best if you enquired about the taxes you will have to pay and consider that they don’t dent your account too much.
How Do You Start Asking Your Partner Financial Questions before Marriage?
You may be willing to have a money talk, but you are at a crossroads on how to approach the subject altogether. Follow these tips to help you get started.
a. Talk to Your Partner About Your Financial Goals from the Very Onset of the Relationship
Procrastination may not only steal your time but also your chance and best shot to ask your partner key financial planning questions.
If you start early, the better, and this will pave the way and even make future money talks easier. If you wait and only bring up the matter when you are caught up in a financial crisis, it may be too late.
At that time, judgment will be clouded by extreme feelings, which may cause uncalled for misinformed decisions such as opting for a divorce.
Bringing the subject up earlier in the relationship is a way to strengthen your marriage and avoiding a divorce.
b. Introduce the Subject Gradually
Money is a very sensitive issue worldwide. If you bring up the subject too fast and too soon, it may cause suspicion. You will come across as someone with a hidden agenda and only targeting your partner’s money even if you are not.
The best way to help your partner open up is by also opening up to them gradually. Tell them about your financial goals, your credit score, your fears, and what have you as you slowly progress to more sensitive and demanding issues.
c. Find Out Your Partner’s Childhood Experiences and Financial Upbringing
Simple questions like the parenting approach their parents used on them – authoritative, authoritarian, or permissive- come in handy in helping you know their view and mentality about money.
Try and find out if they ever witnessed their parents having squabbles over money or not. We are what we interact with. If you find out how they were brought up, financially, you will learn a lot with regards to their current stance on financial issues.
d. Format Your Questions in the fashion of “In Case..”
Such questions always seem simple to respond to but have the potential to reveal a lot about someone. This is a tactical way of trying to understand your partner’s financial psychology without looking like you are asking too much.
It gives room for asking more intense questions in an interesting and less suspicious manner. A classic example, in this case, could be “In case you were the lucky winner of a lotto jackpot, where would you channel that money?”.
You can also take advantage of this avenue to ask about their take on productivity against time.
“In case you had the freedom of choice to be paid based on the hours you worked, having a fixed basic salary with commissions based on the productive hours you have worked or just having a fixed salary, which option would you choose?”
These questions will help you gauge their general view on key financial issues.
e. Approach The Questions with an Open Mind
The mistake most people make is making observations and forming conclusions for themselves. They then proceed to frame questions aimed at helping them justify and reaffirm their formed conclusions.
This stereotyping will not help you. When asking questions, be flexible to learn, relearn, and unlearn earlier on prejudicially formed perspectives on your partner’s financial stance.
Before you proceed to ask your partner those hard-hitting witty questions you have already fashioned in your mind, take some time colossal and have some sober personal money talk with yourself first.
You ought to ask yourself several questions and be as honest and sincere as possible with yourself. In any case, if you cannot be candid to yourself, how on earth will you be truthful to your partner?
4 Reasons Why Couples Avoid Discussing Their Finances
1. Lack of Awareness on the Importance of Streamlining your Financial Plans With Your Partner
Many campaigns, both online and mainstream, have been done to sensitize on the vitality of medical and compatibility tests before marriage. Some religious institutions have even gone a step further to make it mandatory for couples to undergo HIV tests before marriage.
On the contrary, barely anything has been done to address the importance of money talk before marriage. You will then consequently grow up not understanding the necessity of asking your partner pivotal financial questions before you finally tie the knot.
This is even though financial misunderstandings are among the leading causes of many otherwise preventable divorce cases.
2. The Desire to Keep Your Financial Life Private
In spite of this, it is just natural that you will still feel the need to keep your financial life private. It starts with one small lie, and as is in the nature of lies, they beget other lies to cover them up, and many other lies will follow until you are caught or you feel horrid enough to confess.
3. Lack of Sufficient Trust in Your Partner
You might as well have heard that man made money, money made man ‘man.’ No wonder you will ironically find it easier to trust somebody with your life than your finances.
4. A Situation in Which You are The Sole Provider in the Relationship
Fate may have it that you are financially more privileged than your partner at the moment, and you are footing the bills for most, if not all, the basic utilities. In such an arrangement, it is humanly understandable that you will not see the need to have a financial discussion with your partner.
What if a sudden catastrophe befalls you, like an unprecedented accident? Would you like those you left behind to suffer in oblivion, yet you had the capability to help them? You might be the one endowed right now, but your partner, too, has financial goals.
You ought to share and help each other grow.
Note that money talk is an essential part of knowing each other. You will never know one another to the extent that you will say it is enough. Have regular financial discussions about monitoring your growths and challenges. If you can truly know your partner financially then you already know them.