According to a recent study, over four in ten couples in the U.S. say that financial anxieties have negatively impacted their relationships. The good news is that open and honest conversations about money can go a long way toward maintaining a happy marriage.
If you’re planning to take your relationship to the next level in the coming year, here are seven key questions you and your partner should ask each other.
- How Did Your Family Handle Money?
Our financial values, fears, and aspirations are often formed early – even if we’re not conscious of it. Exploring how you and your partner grew into money awareness can help you be more intentional about how you set goals, manage resources, and engage in dialogue going forward.
- What Assets and Liabilities Are You Bringing Into the Partnership?
“What’s your credit utilization ratio?” isn’t generally considered good first-date banter, but if things are getting serious, you’ve got to get down to facts. Each partner’s income, savings, personal property, and debt load will play a role in determining your future opportunities and lifestyle.
- What Are Your Saving and Spending Habits?
Penny-pincher? Shopaholic? For better or worse, you probably fall into certain patterns of money behavior when left to your own devices. When you form a family unit, it’s all the more important to examine these tendencies and consider how they might impact your shared dreams.
- How Will We Merge Our Money?
Sharing your lives means sharing resources and costs – but there are lots of ways to do this. Many couples opt to retain separate accounts for personal use and open joint accounts for routine household expenses and long-term savings goals. It’s not too soon to devise an action plan.
- How Will We Divide Financial Responsibilities?
In finance as in romance, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Some couples divvy up tasks like budgeting, paying bills, and filing taxes, while others elect a “CFO” who takes the lead. In any case, it’s important that both parties stay informed, involved, and committed to common goals.
- Whose Health Insurance Should We Be On?
Typically, marriage is a “qualifying life event” that allows either spouse to join the other’s job-based insurance plan (or sign up for a new plan on the federally run marketplace) outside the usual enrollment periods. Don’t wait until after the wedding to compare your coverage options.
- How Much Should We Spend on the Wedding?
Tennessee couples spend an average of $22,000 on the very first day of their married lives. Whether that sounds like too much, too little, or just right, it’s vital for you and your partner to discuss your expectations, so you can begin day two of matrimony on strong financial footing.
Tips for Starting the Conversation
Discussing finances can be uncomfortable – especially if it’s been a fraught subject in your past. Consider these tips for improved dialogue:
- Get to the bottom of your feelings. Pay attention to the topics or situations that lead to anxiety or conflict.
- Always presume good faith. Approach your partner’s financial attitudes with curiosity instead of judgment.
- Don’t be all doom and gloom. Regular money talks can be a chance to set fun goals and celebrate successes.
- Don’t keep secrets. Whether you commingle assets or maintain separate accounts, honesty is the best policy.
- Ask for help. Citizens Bank has helped four generations of families talk about money.