If you are in a relationship for the long haul, it’s good to be transparent on important issues, including money. Couples don’t just quarrel over how a toothpaste should be squeezed. They also quarrel over parenting, housework, time, and money.
Your other half’s attitude towards money and how it matches or complements yours can greatly impact your relationship. So, it’s best to talk about it earlier than later.
How much savings and investments do you have?
This question can help determine your financial health as a couple. Do both of you have enough emergency funds to weather a financial storm? And are both of you on track with growing your money?
How much do you make and what's your salary goals?
I have friends lamenting to me that their partner isn’t earning enough but the latter is so comfortable at work that he/she doesn’t seem to be bothered by it.
If there’s a misalignment on how ambitious one should be when it comes to salary and climbing the career ladder, it may result in arguments and disdain down the road, especially when commitments start piling up.
What insurance policies do you have?
One of the first things you should settle in adult life is your insurance. Do you have coverage for health care, accidents, disability, and death?
If one of you falls sick, can no longer work due to poor health or disability, or passes away unexpectedly, would the family be able to survive financially?
Do your calculations and buy insurance to protect your finances.
What do you spend on every month?
Your partner’s spending habits can make or break your financial plans.
Are they spending frivolously on material wants, or are they way too thrifty for your liking? Do they invest in personal development and positive hobbies or are they spending on things that have no long-term benefit?
If you don’t agree with how they spend their money now, you will hardly agree in the future. Talk about how both of you can manage your differences, if any and commit to your shared financial goals.
What are your financial commitments?
This is related to the previous point on spending but financial commitments are a little different. They are the things you have to pay for month after month for years.
That includes the monthly allowances for parents, the house, the car, family holidays, and the 10 pets that they may have at home. Are they helping anyone pay off debts or do they have elderly parents or a young sibling whom they are responsible for financially?
At the end of the day, you do not want to be blindsided and see your financial dreams get crushed.
It’s perfectly normal to have financial commitments but you have to take them into consideration from the start when managing both of your finances.
What are your financial goals?
A couple should ideally share the same big financial goals. Whether it’s a nice condominium, a luxury car, a big nest egg, vacations every year, or sending your kids to prestigious schools, two of you have to work equally hard to achieve those goals.
What's your approach to money management?
It’s not enough to earn money, you have to learn how to manage it in order to gain financial freedom.
Everyone has a different approach to managing their money. You need to understand how your partner earns, saves, protects, and grow his/her money. If there’s no clear plan, perhaps it’s time to start one together.
Should we have a joint account?
A joint account makes a lot of sense for most couples because each party can make regular contributions to it and use the savings to pay for joint expenses.
This ensures that no one feels that they are paying more than what was agreed upon. It also becomes clear how much you have as a couple and thus how much you can spend.
Can either one of us take a break from working?
It’s increasingly common to take a sabbatical from work because you want to pursue something different or just to take a break. Would you or your other half be supportive if the other decides to do so? How would it change your financial situation and would that be okay for both parties?
When we have children, will one of us stay home or do we get help?
This is an important conversation if both of you have decided to have kids. Having a child would probably take a toll on your finances. Sometimes the parent decides to stay home because he/she prefers to be the one taking care of the child. Losing a full-time income may mean relooking at your financial goals and spendings.
If you have decided to get help instead, then you would have to choose between enrolling in daycare centres, hiring a helper or a nanny, and enlisting the help of your parents. All these require some calculations too.
This article was first published on Bank Bazaar.
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