If you want to be in a successful marriage and financial partnership, you and your potential partner must take money seriously.
Asking the right questions before marriage can give you insight into their habits, how they handle money and what they feel are important values in life.
Here’s a list of other crucial questions you and your significant other should discuss before getting hitched.
A few Ground Rules
You must get a clear sense of your partner’s perception of money and how it impacts their view in life. But here are a few ground rules:
#1. Don’t ask your partner if they are rich or poor
One of the worst things you can do is delve into specifics such as how much they have in their savings account or ask them what they plan on doing with their money after marriage. It will create a sense of unease and distrust because it feels like you are trying to pry into their life.
#2. No leading questions
These lines might be helpful: “I never asked you this before, but I think this is an important question to bring up.” Or, “Sometimes money issues arise after getting married, and I want us to talk about it before it’s too late.” Or, “I just have to know how you feel about this because we don’t want any surprises later on when debt comes into the picture.”
#3. Only ask one question at a time
You will notice that among these questions, there are many sub-questions. They might all be equally important, but there is no need to ask them one after another. You can space them out during the course of your conversation or ask at different times in the future.
#4. Be open-minded
Although most people have an idea about how they would like to handle finances with their significant other, it’s important to keep an open mind as there is always room for improvement or a better way of doing things.
#5. Be Wary of Answers
When hearing back answers, try not to judge each other’s answers too much. Some people like having more control over money; others prefer an equal partnership where they contribute equally.
Always try to keep in mind that this is how one person sees money. If they don’t have any savings, it could be due to other factors, so don’t judge!
Here we go!
Big-picture money matters
- How do we view debt? Do we have any?
- Will we be OK with debts hanging over us during the initial stages of marriage?
- How would we handle credit card debt (if applicable) if one person had it and another didn’t?
- What was each of our families’ financial histories like when we were children?
- To what extent will this affect our views on spending?
- Where do we stand financially in terms of assets, debts, and income?
- Are we debt-free, or do we have a history of carrying balances on our credit cards?
- Do you already own your home, or are you renting?
- What’s the state of your retirement accounts?
- Do you run up your credit cards and charge purchases with no intention of paying them off every month, or would you only use them for emergencies?
- Is it OK to treat yourself from time to time when saving is a priority for us right now?
- How often should I check my bank account balance online, and how much detail should I know about your spending?
- Are you a rude tipper, or do you regularly tip 15-20% of the bill when dining out?
- Do you tip housekeepers and cab drivers well even though it’s not expected, or do you think this is unnecessary?
- What are each of our plans for savings after we get married?
- Is one person putting away more than another in terms of retirement accounts, investments, and debt payments—and will we be comfortable with this arrangement long term?
- If my partner has a higher credit limit than I do on a credit card, will we monitor how much is spent and ensure both balances are always paid off?
- What kind of loan debt is there for us to pay?
- How did our parents teach us about money growing up?
- Did one or both of them struggle financially while raising you? (Did this directly affect your spending habits?)
- How will we combine our finances after marriage?
- Will this involve combining bank accounts and credit cards or just sharing expenses like utility bills evenly between both names or on a per-person basis?
- Should larger expenditures be negotiated between partners first before an actual purchase is made?
- Are you more socially responsible with your money than I am?
- What is your ideal way of balancing work life with family life?
- Do you like regularly donating to causes, or do you think it’s someone else’s responsibility to take care of others?
- What are your biggest pet money-wasters (clothing, watches, cars, and so forth)?
- How much can I spend on these luxury items over the course of our marriage?
- When is it OK to splurge on vacation for two or another special event?
- Would it be OK if one partner earned more than the other right from the start in terms of salary or income potential?
- And would we then agree to put away 50% of that person’s higher income into investments and savings immediately (so debt isn’t accrued as a result)?
- How much does each of us earn per month now (as well as how long does it take you to reach this number)?
- How much do you spend on clothing, shoes, makeup, and other grooming products?
- How will we handle any unforeseen medical expenses?
- Do your purchases fluctuate from season to season, or are they more consistent throughout the year?
- What is each of our goals for savings after we get married (or in retirement)?
- Do either of us have any debt that has been handed down from parents or grandparents—and if so, how will this affect our relationship long term?
- Do you buy things on credit cards without having money in the bank to cover charges, or do you pay off your balance each month?
Money Questions to Ask if You’re Already Married (Short Term)
- What was your biggest financial mistake, and what did you learn from it/how can we avoid making similar mistakes together?
- If you had an extra Php10,000, how would you use it right now?
Money Questions to Ask if You’re Already Married (Long Term)
- If you could go back and give your younger self advice on dealing with money – what would that be?
- What were the major milestones in your life financially (before marriage, paying off student loans, etc.)?
- Where do we want to see ourselves in 5 years time with our finances (paying off the house, buying a new one, having kids, etc.)?
- How much do we have saved for our future retirement, and how can we make sure it increases every year so that we don’t fall short later as a couple or individually?
If you want to be a financially responsible couple, being open with each other and knowing where someone stands in finances should help ease any future misunderstandings or conflicts.
Even if the answers are not necessarily to your liking or are different from what you had expected – there will eventually come a time when those differences will arise anyway.
Know that you first need to start with yourself and your own personal finances. Doing so can help foster good money habits and make both individuals in the relationship feel more secure about their future together.