Whether you are newlyweds or have been married for decades, money conversations should be a norm in your household. That ensures you both remain on the same page. Plus, it allows you to have discussions that can prevent arguments down the line. By asking the right questions, you can have meaningful talks about your financial picture and plans. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are five financial questions you should ask your spouse now.
1. Which of Our Past Money Decisions Do You Appreciate Today?
This is a question that focuses on the positive, allowing you to start off a potentially challenging conversation on a good note. Additionally, it encourages your spouse acknowledge what they feel is going right, a point that could streamline future discussions about changes that might be necessary, as it lets you know a bit about what they like to see.
Another benefit of this question is it helps you both see how decisions you made in the past impact you down the line. You’re recognizing that you chose to make a move and that the outcome was worthwhile, something that may motivate you to adhere to similar choices as you plan for the future.
2. What – If Anything – About Our Current Financial Situation Scares You?
Here’s a question that – while critical – is often a bit difficult. It’s not easy to hear about aspects of your joint life that may cause your spouse fear or anxiety. However, it’s a vital part of the broader discussion. Along with allowing them to get something off of their chest, it can clue you into areas that may need to become priorities.
If your spouse provides a relative general answer, make sure to use follow-up questions to learn more. For example, if your spouse says that debt worries them most, dig in deeper by finding out if it’s the total amount owed that concerns them or the monthly payments. It could also be the impact on your budget, such as how debt limits your ability to save for other goals.
By getting to the bottom of the situation, it’s far easier to plan corrective actions. So, make sure to seek out the specifics if they don’t offer them initially.
3. Is There Any Aspect of My Spending That You’d Like to Discuss?
This is another potentially difficult question, as it essentially involves asking your spouse to potentially speak critically of your choices. However, if you approach it as a learning experience and see it as an opportunity to ensure you both remain on the same page, it’s a topic worth broaching.
If your spouse seems hesitant, let them know that your priority is to ensure that you’re both happy with what’s happening to any joint funds. Additionally, by discussing it now, you can potentially avoid issues that may lead to heated disagreements later.
If your spouse introduces an issue, view it objectively. Refrain from getting defensive when you respond. Instead, work to understand their perspective and take a fact-based approach as you talk about the point. By remaining calm, it’s easier to work through any concerns, ensuring you can find a place that makes you both happy.
4. Have You Made Any Recent Money Decisions or Moves That You Haven’t Discussed with Me?
With this question, you’re also stepping into challenging territory. Effectively, you’re asking your spouse if they’ve made important choices that they failed to disclose. Since it’s a hard topic, your spouse may hesitate to answer. If they do, reassure them that you’re not being accusatory. Instead, you want to make sure that you have all of the information, allowing you both to plan more effectively going forward.
If your spouse mentions something startling, you may have strong feelings about the information they withheld or the fact they didn’t tell you until now. However, it’s critical to remain as calm as possible and to approach the situation the correct way.
Along with talking about how their decision alters the broader financial picture, ensure you’re clear about how the situation makes you feel. Avoid being accusatory. Instead, use “I” statements to keep the conversation focused on your perspective, making it less likely that your spouse will feel attacked or get defensive.
5. If You Could Change One Thing About How We Handle Money, What Would It Be and Why?
In many ways, this is an invitation to start brainstorming or recommending solutions to possible shortcomings in your joint financial approach. Additionally, it’s a chance to learn more about your spouse’s perspective, including their priorities, fears, and hopes.
Often, this question allows them to broach new ideas. Whether you both choose to pursue them will ultimately be up for discussion. However, it’s a great opportunity to explore something new together, increasing the odds that you can develop a long-term financial strategy that works for you both.
Do you know of any other financial questions that people should ask their spouses now? Have you recently asked the questions above and discovered something new or critical as a result? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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