There are many questions for couples to get answers to before and after getting married. Many should be asked about finance. Talking about money with your spouse can be stressful. However, it is a necessity if you want the marriage to survive. Ultimately, about 59 percent of divorced couples say that money was a factor in their decision to split. In 20 percent of cases, money played a significant role in their choice to walk away from the marriage.
A lack of communication about money in a relationship inevitably leads to trouble. This is especially true since about two-thirds of marriages start off with debt, something that can lead to hardship. Whether it’s hiding debt or spending habits, disagreeing on the handling of financial situations, or having conflicting goals, not understanding each other’s perspective will ultimately make things worse.
Money Questions for Couples
Ideally, couples should discuss money well before marriage. If the relationship is serious and potentially long-term, having a conversation can make a world of difference. Additionally, financial discussions should occur regularly. This ensures you both are on the same page for the duration of the relationship.
If you haven’t had a conversation with your spouse about money, here are five questions for couples you both should address.
1. How Much Debt is There?
Understanding how much you owe, either individually or together, is vital for managing your financial health. Hiding debts from one another typically won’t end well, so it’s best to be upfront about what you both owe creditors.
Typically, the best approach is to review each of your debts and look at the remaining balances. Do the math and see how much you each owe individually as well as together. This lets you both see exactly how much debt the relationship is carrying.
Additionally, total up the minimum payments and look over the interest rates. Not only will you see how much you have to pay to keep on top of your obligations, but how much you are spending in interest on every debt you owe. That way, you can use those details to create a functional budget and to determine which debts should be priorities when you have extra money to apply as payments.
2. What is Our Credit Situation?
Your debt load and your credit situation aren’t entirely the same thing. There could be marks on your credit history that drag down your score, even if you have that specific debt paid off.
Plus, your cumulative credit histories and scores impact your lives. They may help or prevent you from securing financing, affect your interest rates, or even harm your chances of landing a job.
The intention isn’t to judge one another for your past mistakes. Instead, it’s to ensure you have a realistic picture of where you stand. If you haven’t reviewed your credit report in a while, you can get one from each major bureau every year at AnnualCreditReport.com for free.
3. How Much Can We Spend Without Consulting the Other?
Even if you don’t set spending limits entirely, setting this kind of maximum amount can help avoid a lot of arguments. For example, would you be upset if your spouse spent $500 without talking to you first? How about $100 or $250?
Essentially, this question allows you both to define how much the other person can spend without speaking to the other person first. That way, a major purchase doesn’t lead to a disagreement simply because the spouse wasn’t aware of it in advance.
Alternatively, you can also discuss if an “allowance” could work for you as a couple. For instance, you could each have a set amount per paycheck, like $100, that you can spend on whatever you want. This can allow you both to invest in your hobbies, lunches out while at work, or any other expense that isn’t viewed as joint. If you or your spouse decide to save your allowance for a big purchase, that would be an option, but it automatically creates a limit that can help you both keep the peace.
4. What Are Your Savings and Retirement Goals?
Many people only have a basic grasp of their own retirement and savings goals, let alone their spouses. By discussing this topic, you can learn a lot about how the other person views financial security, allowing you to set objectives that meet both of your needs.
For example, you can determine how much you think you’ll need annually during retirement. Then, you can work backward from that number to decide how much you need to set aside. Additionally, you can identify a suitable amount of emergency savings, ensuring you have enough money to handle a surprise expense.
You can also select major financial goals that require a significant amount of savings. For instance, buying a home usually is something that requires planning. Being able to pay for a child’s college education is another example.
This question also allows you to both discuss your hopes and dreams for the future. By doing so, you can actually grow closer, learning about each other’s desires and how they envision their lives.
5. Who Is Responsible for Managing the Household’s Finances?
While this may seem like an odd question, deciding who is responsible for sending bill payments is often a necessity. This ensures that every major obligation is handled in a timely manner, allowing you to avoid late fees and missed payments.
Similarly, deciding who will oversee the budget and define how much you can spend together on routine expenses, like groceries or fuel for your vehicles, is also wise.
In some cases, you may choose to both manage these together. For example, you may set billing paying days that align with your paychecks, giving you a chance to handle all of your payments in one sitting on a set schedule.
Designating one person to manage the household’s finances is also an option, as long as you both agree on that point. However, this does mean you both have to communicate regularly about your financial situation. Otherwise, the person who is not overseeing these activities may make spending decisions the household can’t afford.
Ultimately, by asking these five money questions for couples, you can keep your household on track. While it can be hard to have these talks, they are vital for the health of the relationship, making them worth the effort.
Can you think of another question couples should discuss about money? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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