Avoid this relationship mistake! Check out the make-or-break financial questions to ask your partner before marriage.
So you’re moving on to the next stage of your romance: marriage. Congratulations! Perhaps you’re waiting for that grand proposal, or maybe you’re on your way to pop the question. But before you make off for the wedding of your dreams, have you had “the talk” about money? We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but financial incompatibility is one of the most common reasons for divorce. To avoid a union that falls to the wayside, we share why it’s important to discuss money matters and ask these financial questions before marriage.
Why you need to talk about money before marriage
It protects you from being financially unfaithful
Once you’re a married couple, you’ll have more than your own expenses to worry about. Think rent, entertainment, housing loans, groceries, and expanding the family. It might sound cheesy, but once you’ve said “I do” at the altar, you’re operating as one entity. And if you’re both uncertain about what steps to take together, that’s a recipe for disaster.
“Your partner might like to dine out on weekends, while you prefer to stay home. To prevent future arguments due to differences in expectations, it’s important to understand each other’s spending habits. Even with the wedding – the last thing you want is to be engaged and find out that you’re expected to pay for the whole ceremony yourself,” says Jarrod Wong, senior financial planner at TallRock Capital.
“Or, imagine if something happens to you. Your partner will have to take on the financial burden of paying for your medical and utility bills. When you align on financial protection, expenditure and goals, you get a better understanding of your current and future liabilities.”
The worst part about disagreeing on money issues? The opportunity for financial infidelity to creep in. This means you or your partner hiding spending habits from each other to avoid trouble.
“This can include syphoning money from joint accounts, lying about income or debt, lending large amounts of money without consent, or keeping bank accounts or credit cards secret,” says Antonia Basile Wilson, divorce consultant and founder of Allied Divorce Consultancy. To avoid marriage-killing decisions that stem from money issues, you have to be on the same page.
Now is definitely a good time for “the talk”
Already a few years into your relationship and wondering if it’s too late to talk about money? Fret not! Relationship and financial experts tell us there’s no hard and fast rule when you should bring up such matters. However, earlier is always better – especially when both of you are committed.
Relationships are all about sussing out how you complement each other, after all. You’re typically looking for someone who can work with you towards emotional and financial stability.
“Assuming you’ve determined you’re compatible; now is the time to make conscious agreements about the functional aspects of your life together. This includes things like how you’ll split the bill (if at all), and how you’ll pay for holidays and household expenses. If you haven’t discussed this, and you’re about to get married, you can no longer avoid working it out,” says Valentina Tudose, a dating and relationship expert.
Talking about finances early speaks well for the health of your relationship, as it demonstrates effective communication. “The more proactive and comfortable a couple is in having open, honest and non-judgemental conversations on finances, the better off they’ll be in the long run,” Antonia says. “Starting financial conversations early will take away the intensity and nerves about any serious talks later.”
So, how do you start the conversation?
Before pulling them in for a chat, it’s important to analyse how your upbringings differ. Understanding how the value of money looks different for each person can help you approach the conversation with empathy and patience.
“For someone who grew up in an affluent family where money was never an issue, it can represent fun and nothing more than a means to enjoy life with,” Valentina says. “On the other hand, someone who was deprived of luxuries growing up may equate money with survival, safety and stability. Or feel like it’s a way of proving they’ve made it in life.”
Once you’ve determined where you both stand, you’re better equipped to handle the conversation. This is where you can discuss short and long-term financial goals, share any worries or frustrations and set a date to frequently check in on money matters.
Remember to try and create a loving and safe environment so that money won’t be a scary issue in your relationship. This will empower you to work towards common and individual financial goals together.
Bookmark this list of questions to ask before marriage
Need some help to get the ball rolling? No problem. Experts say these are the important financial questions to ask your partner before marriage.
- If we’re setting up a joint account when we get married, how much will each person contribute monthly?
- Will household costs be split equally between us, or will the more affluent partner cover a higher percentage?
- Are we bringing any debt into the relationship, and if so, how much?
- Which bills will each of us cover?
- How much do we need for monthly personal spending?
- What are your views on spending versus saving, and saving versus investing?
- What are your short and long-term financial goals (individually and as a couple)?
- Anyone you need to support financially?
- Do you want children, and how should we prepare for the expenses that come with that?
- How often should we come together to discuss our finances?
Now, go forth and achieve financial bliss!