Whether you are engaged to be married, or you have shared a life with your partner for years, finances are one of the biggest factors in having a successful relationship. However, many couples overlook the importance of money in their relationships, and how detrimental miscommunication about the topic can be to a successful marriage or partnership. Often the lack of discussion surrounding financial management boils down to misinformation about what should be on the priority list – and what shouldn’t be.
Top Financial Questions Couples Should Answer (Together!)
If you’ve yet to have the money talk with your significant other, here are the top financial questions you should answer together.
1) What are our goals?
Getting on the same page, or at least in the same book, with your finances as a couple starts with asking each other what you want out of your financial life, both individually and together. Maybe that is a lavish retirement, or as simple as feeling financially stable each month. Whatever the answer, be sure to talk through why it is a goal, write it down, and check in with each other occasionally to see how you’re progressing toward specific objectives.
2) What do we need?
Part of this question may relate back to the goals you have as a couple, but it may also boil down to what isn’t in place at the moment. If a financial emergency took place, would you both be covered? The answer to that question is based on several things, like having an emergency fund or not, understanding your options for quick cash like those available through car title loans or credit cards, or having the right type and amount of insurance in place.
Figure out what it is you don’t have, and then work together toward taking care of it.
3) What, how much, and where?
Recognizing that you may have come from different financial means or income ranges, have an open and honest discussion about what types of accounts you have, how much is in each account, and where it is held. This includes savings, investments, and retirement plans, but also debt like student loans or car notes.
Having a clear picture of where you both stand, together and separately, is important to recognize the needs you both have and the progress you’re making toward your goals over time.
4) Is joint or separate preferred?
Couples structure their finances differently, but avoiding arguments and discord about money relies on a discussion of preferences when it comes to account management. Some partners prefer all money combined into just a few accounts, while others operate on a strictly separate basis. Either strategy, or a combination of the two, can work fine, but only when you ask what your partner prefers in the first place.
5) Do we need guidance?
Although some couples are able to navigate their financial lives alone, others need professional guidance to get through the ups and downs. A financial planner can offer invaluable advice regarding questions you can’t seem to get through on your own, along with a path forward based on your unique individual and joint goals. Look for a planner with a background in working with couples in your age range, or one that operates on a fee-basis instead of commission.
Are You Answering These Top Financial Questions?
Overall, living a sound financial life as a couple is far more enjoyable than going it alone, but it takes work to get the job done right. Talk through your goals, evaluate your current picture and your needs, and consider how you both want to go about managing your finances. When all else fails, reach out for help from a seasoned expert to help get you on the right financial path in your relationship.
How are you doing with these top financial questions?
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.