Tomorrow is my 4th wedding anniversary! I wouldn’t say that makes us professionals but we’ve certainly learned a lot in four years. One of the smartest things we did as an engaged couple was to thoroughly discuss the topic of finance. Our church offered pre-martial counseling and provided discussion questions for varying topics: communication, husband/wife roles, expectations, sex, money, and conflict resolution. All of the topics were very helpful but since we are talking finances here I thought I’d share some of the financial discussion questions. I briefly shared our answers as well. With arguments over money being the top predictor of divorce my hope is that these questions might help you establish a stronger foundation for your marriage.
1. How are you similar and how are you different regarding spending and saving money? How will your similarities/differences affect your way of dealing with financial matters?
We are both savers versus spenders. We’re both okay with delayed gratification in order to reach a financial goal. I asked Dave if he could think of any differences we have with spending/saving money and neither of us could think of anything! This could be why we make a good team when it comes to finances.
2. What concerns do you have about unpaid bills and/or debts?
We both hate debt and are all for eliminating it ASAP. Being on the same page let us pay off $30k in just 9 months!
3. What is your viewpoint on the use of credit cards?
We use them like a debit card; only spending what we actually have. We even used points to get us closer to dropping our PMI.
4. How do you decide how to spend your money?
We set up an excel sheet where every dollar is allocated to maximize our giving and saving. Since we’re both super savers, we put in a monthly amount to categories like vacation and entertainment to make sure we aren’t savers to the point that we miss out on life.
5. What are your thoughts about having a specific plan for spending and saving?
We both were for this strategy. I’m sure it would drive some people nuts but it’s worked really well for our marriage so we’ve kept it going for the past 4 years.
6. Who manages the money?
Note: “manage” does not mean “control.” I’m a nerd and love entering our income and expenses into excel so I’ve been the one who keeps track of how we’re doing. Every week or so I update Dave and we make appropriate changes.
7. If the two of you have differences of opinion about financial matters, how will you resolve those differences?
If it’s a big decision and we are in disagreement, I submit to Dave’s headship and let him make the final decision based off of what he thinks is best for our family.
8. How much money do you think you should be able to spend without consulting your partner? How will you deal with it if one of you goes “over the limit?”
Dave wouldn’t be mad if it was something like $30-$50 on something out of the ordinary. That doesn’t mean I’d go get a manicure every month but it’s more regarding expenses that are out of the ordinary but on our “want” list.
9. What kinds of purchases must you jointly decide upon?
Bigger things like buying a car or new appliance… we also check in on smaller things like if we’re going out with friends. Dave will check in to see where we stand with our monthly entertainment spending since I keep up with the budget and know what’s left. Touching base on upcoming events for the month also helps us plan our spending a little better.
10. What are your short (1-5 year) & long-term (10+ year) financial goals?
- Short- Drop PMI (done!), sell current car and get a new (to us) car, vacation for our 5-year anniversary
- Long- pay off mortgage, save 1-2 years for kids’ college funds, invest in a rental property (maybe)
I’ve shared three more important questions on my site that tie finances with family upbringing and I also provided three tips here at Life and My Finances last year in honor of our 3 year anniversary. If you’re on the same page financially, well done! If not, patiently work through these questions until you reach an agreement. I’d rather take a couple speed bumps working through them than avoiding the “money talk” only to have everything fall apart down the road.
What other questions would you add regarding marriage and finances?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.