I get it — money is possibly the least sexy thing to talk about. You’d much rather discuss the latest episode of that Netflix show you watch together or the story of how you met. But like it or not, finances are a huge part of life, and therefore, a huge part of a relationship. Money decisions go deeper than just the check dance over who pays the bill at the end of a date.
The challenges of money and managing it will come into play even as your relationship starts to become serious, but especially as your relationship develops to the next stages — moving in, marriage, and parenthood are all finance-focused, no matter how unromantic that sounds. So make money something you talk about early on. Furthering your entire relationship with the mindset that you’re planning your money together will avoid problems down the road — you don’t want finance to be the thing that makes you fall apart.
So amid ogling over how much you love each other and just how perfect your sig oth is, try asking these important money questions before taking the next step.
1. What are your goals?
2. How do you see yourself in 10-15 years?
3. What do you like to splurge on?
4. What do you like to save on?
5. If you won the lottery tomorrow, what are the first three things you would spend the money on?
If you’re getting serious…
It might seem a little forward, and maybe even like an invasion of privacy, but knowing crucial factors of your partner’s finances is important when you’re making future commitments to them and building a future together. It will help you navigate if your finances and futures align, and will more easily set up more serious conversations when going through future steps like moving in and getting married.
6. Do your parents currently pay any of your bills?
7. Do you want more education in the future?
8. How do you like to spend your “fun money”?
9. Do you expect your spouse to work full time, part time, or at all?
10. How did your parents treat their money?
11. What splurge would you never give up?
If you’re moving in together…
If you’re going to be sharing a home, you have a right to know the exact ins and the outs of your partner’s (and roommate’s) finances. After all, you not only want to know that this is a commitment you both can make, but you also want to establish that you both have similar values when it comes to homemaking and finance. Also, make sure that the reason you are moving in together is not financial. It may be tempting to move in when you’re spending every night with them anyway, since it would save you half the rent. But convenience is not a reason to make such a huge life commitment, and making sure you’re not doing it for financial reasons will save you pain (and money!) down the road if you’re not happy but feeling financially stuck in the relationship.
12. Who will be in charge of paying the bills and managing finances?
13. To you, what is worth spending money on, in terms of having a home (rent for great location vs. rent for a big space, groceries, etc.)? What isn’t?
14. What dollar amount, and percent of your income, are you willing to devote to monthly bills?
15. Do you currently owe any money?
16. Do you have any money saved?
17. How much do you want to save for an emergency?
18. Why are we considering moving in together?
If you’re getting married…
Not to take away the excitement of the engagement. where everything is rainbows and butterflies, but if you’re getting married, that’s not just a religious and emotional vow, ’til death do you part. It’s also a legal binding — one that requires forever defining your finances in relation to the other person’s. Whether or not you decide to financially go by “what’s mine is yours,” your partner’s spending habits will affect your quality of life. Besides just the nitty gritty details of what to physically do with your bank accounts, ask these questions about “what if” scenarios to avoid problems in the future.
19. How much debt do you have?
20. Do you have a 401k?
21. What is the max one of us can spend without having to consult the other?
22. At what age would you like to retire? What are our retirement goals?
23. What happens if we want children but cannot conceive? How much are we willing to spend on fertility treatments or adoption?
24. Would you financially help family if they needed it? How much would you be willing to give?
25. Do we have equal say on how we use our money as a couple (i.e., buying a house, investments, childcare, etc.), no matter who earns more?