Many people don't like to talk about money. It can be an emotional topic. However, honest, non-judgmental money conversations can be a great way to come together with your partner.
Whether you're married, engaged or in a serious relationship, here are a few important money questions to ask:
#1: What's your attitude toward money?
When it comes to saving and spending money, we all have different attitudes, habits and styles. Some people like to save every extra penny and others like to spend without a plan. Most of us learn our spending and saving habits by watching our parents. In our adult lives, we might follow in our parents' footsteps, or learn from their mistakes and take a completely different approach to managing money.
If you've never talked about money with your partner, a good place to start is by discussing your individual saving and spending tendencies. Gaining an understanding of your partner's habits and relationship toward money will help you avoid conflict down the road and lay the groundwork for future conversations.
#2: Do you follow a budget?
Creating and following a monthly budget makes good financial sense, but according to a poll by Debt.com, 33% of Americans don't use a household budget. Find out if your partner maintains a personal budget. If so, what does it look like? If you're planning on moving in together and merging your financial accounts in the future, you'll need to understand how the other person currently manages his or her finances.
#3: What is your current debt situation?
This question isn't one you'd want to ask on a first date, but if things are getting serious, it's a good idea to know your partner's debt balance. Of course, this question isn't about shaming your partner for their debt or financial decisions. It's about being open and honest and to avoid future strains on your relationship. Remember, if you get married in the future, your spouse's debt will become your debt, too.
However, debt doesn't have to be a relationship deal-breaker. Find out if your partner has debt, and what kind it is. How do they feel about their debt load? Is it stressful or manageable? Do they have a plan to pay it down? Knowing your partner's debt situation–and sharing your own–will allow you to make a plan to tackle your debt together.
#4: What are your money goals? What goals do we want to reach as a couple?
It's important to outline your financial goals as individuals. Ask your partner: What do you want to achieve in the next three to five years? Do you want to go on a trip? Buy a new car? Start your own business? Take some time to write down your personal goals separately, then bring your lists together. What goals do you have in common? You might learn something about your partner that you didn't know before.
Next, discuss the short and long-term goals you want to reach together, such as getting married, traveling, buying a home, starting a family or saving for retirement. Discovering these dreams and life goals will make it easier to create a financial roadmap for your future together.
#5: Are we going to combine our finances? How?
There are many different ways to organize your finances as a couple. Some couples choose to combine their individual checking and savings accounts. Others take a hybrid approach, keeping separate checking accounts but opening a joint savings account to save up for big goals like buying a home. No matter which direction you choose, sit down and decide how you will handle paying bills and making financial decisions as a team.
Get help getting on the same page.
Bringing your finances together is a great step towards a healthy, happy relationship. At Wright-Patt Credit Union, we're here to help you and your partner come together with your finances, so you can meet your goals and live the life you want to live, together! If you're planning on getting married and merging your finances, we encourage you to visit our Getting Married life event page, where you can find helpful tips, tricks and tools to manage your shared finances. Likewise, when you're ready to have the “money talk," our financial coaches can help you start and navigate these important conversations. Stop by your local Member Center to talk to a financial coach today.