So you think you’re in love, huh? You’ve been dating for 18 months, you finish each other’s sentences, and you spend so much time together, you practically live together. So it makes sense that the obvious next step is marriage, right? Before you start ring shopping, or scrolling through your wedding Pinterest board, ask yourself a few questions. Do you ever talk about money, aside from deciding who’s picking up the check? Do you have an idea of your partners money habits? I thought not.
I know money isn’t the most romantic thing to think about, but you need to understand this aspect of your significant other’s life BEFORE you make any big decisions. Until you know what’s going on in your partner’s financial world, you really don’t know them. And when you become one, that includes joining finances as well, for better or for worse. Their income = your income. Their debt = your debt. Their bad habits = your headache. You see where I’m going with this?
We all know the statistics that tie divorce rates to money, so I’ll skip reciting them here, and move into a list of questions you should ask (and prepare to answer for) your boo. I can’t promise that these conversations will be easy, but if you truly love one another, you’ll be willing to be open about these things.
- What are your goals?
- Are you a spender or a saver? Do you know how much you spend monthly?
- How did you grow up, and how does that shape your outlook on money?
- How do you manage your finances?
- How much is your annual income, and from what sources?
- Are you expecting any sharp changes in your income in the foreseeable future?
- What are your expectations for splitting bills and managing our combined funds?
- How much debt do you have, and what is it comprised of (i.e. student loans, car, mortgage, etc)?
- Are you actively paying down your debt? If so how much and with what consistency?
- If you are not paying your debt, what is your plan to address it?
- If we get married, where do you want to live?
- Do you see yourself having children?
- If they already have children: How do you and your ex split child-related costs (i.e. health insurance, tuition, child care, etc.)?
- If they’ve previously been married: Do you carry any financial burden from your previous marriage (i.e. alimony, marital debt obligations, etc)?
- What type of investments do you have/are you interested in pursuing together?
- Do you have any interest in starting a business?
If the answers to these questions are overwhelmingly less than favorable, take a step back and ask yourself if this person truly fits your values. Money is not everything, but it is a major part of your life. You don’t have to apologize for opting out of a relationship that will severely hinder you financially. And if it’s your financial situation that needs work, don’t be offended if your partner feels you need to clean up some things before they feel comfortable moving forward with you.
What else would you ask your mate before getting married? Let me know in the comments.