The Checklist: 15 Financial Questions to Ask Your Partner In A Relationship
It’s the second most wonderful time of the year after the holidays -Valentine’s Day. Relationship, love and of course money in the air.
As the saying goes, there is no romance (or relationship) without finance and the National Retail Federation (NRF) has the numbers to prove it.
According to the organization which has been conducting an annual Valentine’s Day consumer spending survey since 2004, they say, consumers plan to spend $196.31 up 21% from last year and total spending will be $27.4 billion (yes, billion); again, up 32% from last year.
Yes, going on vacations, dining out at fancy restaurants and posting cute social media selfies with your boo is great, maybe its time to have a deeper conversation regarding money for your future together.
So if you’re in a relationship, thinking of starting a relationship, making plans around someone you’re dating and hoping it ends in a relationship, here is a checklist of 15 financial questions to ask to ensure both of you are on the same financial page.
The Checklist: 15 Money Questions to Ask Your Partner In A Relationship
1. Did you discuss money in your household growing up and what lessons did you learn?
Our childhood often shapes our behaviors as adults and when it comes to money (management), it’s no different. Asking this question and their response will give you a deeper understanding of their money behavior should you choose to be in a relationship with them.
2. Do you budget and save?
Budgeting and saving are the first steps to good money management. Are they on your level, better or not meeting up at all based on your criteria?
3. What are your saving and spending patterns?
You want to know who is the saver and who is the spender? However, the important reason for this question is to know what the potential partner values. Would they rather spend on the little items and save on big items or vice versa?
Do they value experiences and creating memories over having “nice” things? Is their response in alignment with your own values?
4. What is your credit score?
How soon in the relationship should this question be introduced depends on how much credit matters to you in a relationship. Everyone has a different criteria for measuring a partner or what they consider as deal-breakers.
If you care too much, ask almost immediately. I said, almost immediately- not on the first date.
You may be wondering why is this important?
Well, if it came time to apply for a loan during the course of the relationship, it is more likely that the one with the better credit score will be the primary borrower to get a better rate or to even qualify for the loan in the first place.
That your potential partner has poor credit is not enough reason to stop the relationship- if credit is the only issue. A low credit score can be fixed. It is more important to find out why he or she has poor credit.
5. Can I see your credit report?
A credit score is a reflection of what is in the credit report. However, more weight should be given to a credit report.
Did they file bankruptcy? If yes, how long ago? Do they have collections on their account? How many? Or is the low credit as a result of not paying one or two bills on time?
One factor that makes up your credit score is your length of credit which takes up 10% of your score.
Someone may have a 680 credit score simply because they closed out their oldest credit card which is very different from someone who has been late once or twice on their bills with the same score.
Find out the real reason they have a low score.
6. How much do you earn?
The how much do you earn question tends to make people feel uncomfortable – depending on how soon it is asked upon meeting.
I think intuition plays a role here; do you want to continue dating this person? If yes, you might as well inform them because they’re bound to find out sooner or later.
If you don’t feel comfortable answering the question yet, feel free to state your discomfort and give a range of your income.
7. How much debt do you have?
I just heard the drum roll. This question could bring some embarrassment depending on when in the relationship it is asked and how much debt the person who the question was posed to has.
Here’s a fact: some people aren’t willing to be in a relationship with someone who has a huge amount of debt.
Others believe you shouldn’t forgo a relationship with someone (who could be great for you) simply because of their debt. What matters most is how responsible they’ve been in handling their debt.
You have to figure out which one of the above you are. If (huge) debt is a deal-breaker for you, you need to ask probably in the dating stage so you don’t waste your time.
8. What are our assets and our liabilities?
In order words, what do we owe and what do we own? The answer to this question could be a deal-breaker for you too. Is one person coming into the relationship with liabilities and other assets or are both of you coming in with some assets and some liabilities?
The best way to get an answer is to make a list of what you own and what you own -together.
9. What’s the best method for tackling our existing debt?
This question assumes that both of you now know what you’re up against. You have the hard numbers of each other’s debt and you’re comfortable with continuing the relationship with the goal of knocking down your debt -together.
What you both need to come up with is a plan of action.
10. Who is paying what?
It is essential to establish who is paying what particularly if you’re cohabiting. What are your financial expectations as a man or woman in the relationship? As a man, do you expect your partner to contribute equally or is her financial contribution going to be based on a percentage of her income?
As a woman do you expect your man to pay all the “big” bills while you pay the “little” bills? What are the big bills and little bills?
It is more important that no one is talking in circles. Now is the time to have an honest conversation about your expectation. Remember it is what you accept at the beginning that will continue and set the tone going forward.
11. Joint or separate accounts or should we do both?
Some parties believe that finances should be combined in a relationship especially if cohabitation is involved. Others think finances should be kept separate until marriage. However, even some married couples keep their accounts separate because that seems to work best for them.
It doesn’t matter which way you go as long as both of you have the conversation and are in agreement with want you want.
12. Who should manage the day-to-day finances i.e bills, household budgets?
Money management gets complicated the older you become. Rent or mortgage, utilities, car payment, car insurance, renters or homeowners insurance, etc. It is important to actively stay on top of your bills together.
Even if one person takes on the responsibility because they’re better at it, the other party needs to know how things are handled.
There should be some level of involvement no matter how minimal to prevent any type of resentment or confusion.
13. Should we sign a prenup if/when we get married?
I hear another drum roll. The conversation around a prenup is usually a difficult one. One half of the world feels; having a prenup means the relationship isn’t based on real love because what’s mine is yours and whats yours is mine.
The other half of the world believe having a prenup is necessary should a divorce happen and things get really ugly or simply one party would like to protect their assets.
Either way, the prenup question tends to make people put their guard up. It’s best to have the conversation early on it’s not one big disagreement down the line.
14. How will we handle our daily spending decisions?
This question is particularly helpful if you have a joint account. Will there be a daily spending limit per person?
If yes, how much before we have to check in? Going from having your own account where you spend without being questioned can be tough to adjust to when finances are combined. Have the conversation.
15. What is your investing tolerance?
You want to know if your partner has the same appetite for risk. One person might take a more aggressive approach to investing while the other might be a beginner and therefore more conservative.
The answer to this question will also let you know if your partner is saving towards retirement.
Did I miss any important questions? I’d love to hear them. What questions did you ask your partner before or while getting in a relationship. Get the conversation started in the comment section.