In a union of two people, you are bringing together different personalities, backgrounds, lifestyles, wants, needs, and desires. You’ll have similarities that bond you, and differences that can be a crazy maze to navigate through. Finance in marriage is one topic that can set two people apart from one another. That’s why it is important to have deep discussions about your marriage and money before these conflicts arise.
These important money conversations should ideally be had at the start of any serious relationship and before marriage. If you’re in a marriage or any type of long-term relationship where your finances co-mingle, your partner’s actions and decisions will affect you. Issues over money ruins relationships and are also one of the top 5 contributing factors to divorce when partners can’t come together in harmony.
But it’s not too late! If you didn’t have these conversations before and are having money issues in your marriage, there is still time for a heart-to-heart. You can fix money problems in a marriage by being honest with each other, setting goals together, and working towards them as a team.
Even in my marriage, we have two different spending personalities and it sometimes causes issues. I’m a saver, while my husband is a spender. What helped us was to set a savings goal and make a budget that set a specific allowance for “fun money”. I’m not allowed to judge him for what he does with that money, but I do still sneak a mean side-eye in!
Handling Money In A Marriage
It’s important to know where your partner stands in handling their finances. These are the money topics for discussion that can help you find out what your future spouse’s spending habits and financial goals are.
Important finance topics to talk about include:
- Income/ Debt
- Money Personalities
- Financial Goals
- Retirement/ Estate Planning
Being at two different places in your financial journey doesn’t’ have to be a deal-breaker, but you must both be willing to come together, learn better, and do better. Having different money personalities can also help you balance each other out. I mentioned that I tend to be cheap while my spouse is willing to spend more. Even so, we were able to rub off on each other and help elevate one another.
Anyways, you can get started having this important discussion with these questions:
- How much do you make per month? People like to treat this topic as a big “no-no”, but this is the starter to having an open and honest conversation to handle finances well.
- Do you have any debt? How much? This includes debt from credit cards, school loans, car loans, medical bills, IRS, borrowing from friends, child support, etc. Any unpaid debt could result in both wages being garnished.
- What are your expenses? Are you and your partner able to comfortably afford your expenses without living paycheck-to-paycheck?
- Do you have money saved? It’s important to save money and have an emergency fund to avoid going into (or further into) debt.
- Do you monitor how much money you are spending on average? How aware is your partner of their finances and the risk of accumulating debt?
- Are you willing to live on a budget? If either you or your partner’s finances are not on the right track, are you willing to make the life changes needed to get there?
- Do you put a percentage of your income towards tithing or charity? If these things are important to your spouse, it’s good to know and understand that.
- What do you like to spend money on? Do you have expensive tastes? Spending money on what you like is okay, but that’s if you’ve made room for it in your budget.
- What do you think about combining (or splitting) our finances? I’m a supporter of fully merging finances, we like to live on one income and save the other. Some couples prefer spitting finances. This can be done by dividing expenses 50/50, putting a percentage of your salary towards a joint account, or any other preferred way. It’s also important to discuss what will happen if one person loses their job or receives a salary cut.
- Should we have a set allowance or fun money limit? Deciding on an amount that can be spent freely without checking with each other can prevent future arguments. My spouse and I both have a monthly amount built into the budget.
- Who will be in charge of managing the bills? One person should be in charge of paying the bills on time every month. However, both partners should be aware of all the expenses and their due dates (especially in case anything happens).
- Do you want to rent or buy? If the goal is to buy a home, having a good credit score and saving for a down payment is important. There are also various other homeowner expenses than just the mortgage to account for.
- What is your credit score? A partner’s bad credit score won’t affect your own after marriage, but it can change the things you’d both be qualified for. Not to worry, there are several ways to work on increasing your credit score.
- What are your financial goals and how are you working towards them? Discuss your goals together and work as a team to achieve them.
- Do you want children? How many? Be aware of the costs associated including childcare, schooling, and a home and vehicle to fit everyone.
- Are you willing to spend money on fertility treatments or adoption? If wanted, these options can cost thousands.
- Will one of us be a stay-at-home parent? Find out your spouse’s desires and expectations for contributing to the marriage.
- Would you want to enroll the kids in public or private schools? There is a noticeable price difference between public education and privatized education. My husband attended both and sees the large differences in the way of life inside each institution. From his personal experience, private school teachers were more involved and more inclined to make sure that every student understood the subject. Despite your preferred choice, it’s good to be aware of the costs.
- Do you want pets? Being a responsible pet owner requires money and time.
- How do you feel about loaning family and friends money? Lending money that may or may not get repaid is a subject of strife in marriages. It’s good to develop a loaning policy with your partner and stick to it.
- For certain jobs or chores, do you prefer DIY (Doing It Yourself) or paying someone else to do it? Does your partner plan to fire out help such as a maid, gardener, etc?
- What kind of gift-giver are you? This was a subject that had to be confronted in my marriage before I ended up with too many expensive paperweights. We had to agree on a limit for surprise gifts unless it was something specifically requested.
- Are you investing in a retirement plan? When are you planning on retiring? Make plans to ensure a good financial future as well.
- Do you have life insurance? Do you have a will? These plans should be made to take care of your loved ones, especially if kids are involved.
- How many vehicles do we need? Do you or your spouse want multiple vehicles? Project cars? Motorcycles?
The answer to these money questions can be a huge eye-opener! But the results of having such an open and honest conversation about your desires and expectations will help you to be emotionally prepared for future issues.