Let’s face it – it can be uncomfortable to talk to your significant other about money, especially if you haven’t’ been dating for long. But avoiding talking about money altogether can put a huge strain on your future relationship. In fact, according to a survey by MagnifyMoney, 21 percent of divorces happen due to financial concerns. Ouch.
By being open and honest about the get go, money no longer seems like a taboo topic. From the initial dating stage, moving in together, or starting to think about raising a family, these money conversations are absolutely crucial.
And while talking about money might seem awkward at first, the more you talk about it, the less peculiar it becomes. The important thing is to be open and honest with one another. Still unsure of where to start? Here are 5 money questions to ask your partner.
1) What’s Our Current Financial Situation?
Of course, in order to make any progress, you need to know where each of you stands financially. This is probably the hardest question to ask, because you may not like the answer. But transparency is absolutely key. A healthy couple can work through any type of financial situation as long as they respect and support one another.
This is the time to share exactly where you are financially. Share about money in the bank, debt, car loans, investments, spending habits, and anything else you think is important. Your partner has just as much of a right to know as you do, so make it a point to be honest with one another and to refrain from any judgment.
2) Could We Improve How We Handle Our Money?
This is somewhat of a trick question, because no one handles their money perfectly. So the answer here should always be “Yes!”
Then why is this question necessary? It opens up the door for conversations about how to manage your finances together. One person can’t make all of the changes, even if your finances aren’t joined together. You both have to be mindful of your money in order to be happy.
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3) How Did Your Parents Handle Money?
For better or worse, we all learned our money habits from somewhere – usually from our parents.
The choices your parents made when you were younger affected the lifestyle you had growing up. Plus, you probably learned most of your money habits from your parents. So if your parents lived a simple, frugal life and taught you to put money in the bank, hopefully this habit spilled over to you. But if your parents were living in a chronic state of debt and consumerism, you may have found yourself adopting this lifestyle as well.
Everyone parents differently, so you and your partner are likely to find your parents had vastly different ways of handling money. Talking about this will help you understand how your partner views money.
4) What Are Your Career Goals?
Your income depends partially on what you do for a career. Asking your partner about his or her career goals can give you a good idea as to what your long-term financial situation might look like if you two stay together.
Secondly, this allows your partner to share any career dreams that may require a big emotional and financial investment from you. For instance, if your partner dreams of becoming a lawyer, entrepreneur, or scientist, you will want to know ahead of time. That way, you two can be on board with one another’s hopes and dreams from the very beginning.
5) How Can We Both Contribute to Our Relationship?
No matter where you are in your relationship, this is a great question. Chances are, you two don’t make the exact same salary or have the same monthly expenses. In this case, splitting every expense 50/50 might be challenging, since it ultimately would require more out of whoever earns less. That’s not to say splitting everything down the middle couldn’t be a good option – but it might not be for everyone.
Instead, have an open conversation about what contribution looks like. Decide how you will split shared expenses, such as date nights, rent, groceries, or other shared costs. By talking about this up front, you can both feel comfortable with how you’re spending as a couple. Further, by talking about it early on in the relationship, you prevent any resentment sneaking into your relationship.
Honesty is Key
Remember, you’ll never regret being honest. Talking with your partner about money might feel awkward at first, but the more you talk about money, the more comfortable of a topic it will become. So keep asking questions, and you’re on your way to a healthy relationship, both with your partner and with your finances.