Unlike your 20s, you do not have much leeway to experiment with your life choices in your 30s. It’s when society, more so your family, expects you to settle down in life. But before you select your life partner, have this conversation and get to know each other more intimately. Become financially intimate!
Whether you are married, engaged, or dating someone – being a couple is never easy. It's like riding those tandem bicycles, where you both have to pedal to get it moving.
Like you do stuff for fun together, you also take responsibility together. So, why still hesitate to have money conversations? Why is it still considered taboo in relationships?
It's especially a big 'no-no' when you are newly dating. It's considered a major red flag when your dates bring up discussions about finances.
Financial intimacy should be normalised in our society because money is one of the major deal-breakers and markers in marriage.
You should not be in a position when you find out your new husband or wife is struggling with a major financial crunch or has a big credit card debt.
Just like we check and try to find compatibility in all aspects of our relationships, financial compatibility is also very important.
So, be fearless about asking questions like 'what is your take-home salary', 'how much are your expenses every month', 'do you have any debt', and 'how do you save?'
5 Vital money questions you must ask your partner
If you are already together for a long time or are married and in your 30s, here are some vital questions you should ask your partner to understand their financial habits.
1. What is your net salary?
It may seem like a rude question to ask, but it's one of the most important questions you can ask your partner. Ask them where they stand in their financial life.
If you still hesitate to ask this fundamental question, you are probably nowhere ready to plan your financial future. As Erin Lowry of Broke Millennial calls it, getting 'financially naked'. It's not like you are asking for your partner's ATM pin.
2. Do you believe in having savings? Or do you live life king-size?
Saving habits play a significant role in every relationship. Just like you want to find out whether your partner or your date likes to pay for your meals or prefers dutch, you should be curious about whether they are serious about saving money or are a scrimp.
If you are dating newly, ask them hypothetically, 'if you win a lotto today, what would you do with that money? Save them entirely and continue to work as usual? Or would you like to spend it all?'
But if you have known your partner for a long time, then you should take money conversations as openly as possible and map out ways to save money together.
3. Are your life and health insured?
Life and health insurance are some of those must-have things for a person. Remember, life is unpredictable.
You can never know what surprise awaits you in the next turn. So, better be prepared to get yourself and your family insured.
If your husband or fiance doesn't have one insist that they get it. If you are dating, persistence may make you look like an insurance agent (unless you are one!).
4. How many loans do you have? How much do you spend on loan repayment?
This is a tricky question to ask your partner. Unless you are married or dating for a very long time, people do not like to disclose their 'debt life'.
So, you can start by creating hypothetical questions like:
'Gosh, I'll be so glad when this home loan gets over. Do you have a loan?'
'Mine is X amount; what's yours?'
'One of my friends was complaining about high credit card interest. Have you also faced this issue?'
These questions would help you understand where they stand with the loan aspect of their money habits.
5. If you both get married, how are you going to handle the day to day expenses?
Being married is all about sharing responsibilities. Be it shopping grocery or paying utility bills. As dreamy as it sounds, it can also be a source of major conflict.
Some couples choose to have a joint checking account. It's where you both put in your share of funds and spend based on that.
In comparison, others prefer to keep their money private and never have a combined account.
You need to decide how you'd like to handle your day to day expenses. Personal finance expert Desirae Odjick thinks every couple needs a joint budgeting spreadsheet.
As a couple, if you're sharing the decision-making power over common monthly expenses, you need a joint spreadsheet.
It will help you keep track of that money – how much you have contributed and where you are spending it.
Hesitant to have a money discussion? Here's how you can approach it
We understand most of us hesitate to bring up money discussions with our partners. We assume they may think bad about us.
Or 'how dare she ask me how much I earn!' Have you ever thought about what is really stopping us? Embarrassment. Here's how you get over it.
Prepare a list
First and foremost, create a list of things you want to ask your partner. This will help you set a mood. This list could include the above questions.
You could also hash out your financial goals. It could be long term financial goals like purchasing a house or having children.
Remember, money is an emotional issue. So, it needs a practical approach.
Go on money 'Dates'
Money' date' is nothing but scheduling a time with your partner to discuss that list. But remember to keep these dates brief, ideally 20-30 minutes.
Keeping this short will help you to stick to the point and avoid heated arguments. Keep an open mind. Avoid bringing any kind of resentment or shame into this conversation.
Remember, it's okay to struggle. If you and your partner are on the same page, you can overcome any struggle.
Be honest and open-minded
The key to every successful relationship is trust and honesty. Remember, everyone has a financial story. Whatever your financial situation is like, be honest about it with your partner.
Remember, they might be making important life decisions based on your answer. Answer his/her concerns with complete honesty. Also, remind yourself not to shame your partner if they share their financial struggle. Keep an open mind.
Seek help for your financial needs
It's okay to seek help. There is no indignity in seeking help if you are struggling, financially or otherwise. If you cannot find a solution together, don't be embarrassed to seek help from a financial expert or a couple's coach specialised in finance.
They will be able to straighten out the creases. Alternatively, you can also take advice from popular personal finance podcasts or use budgeting tools to create your financial roadmap.
Financial intimacy is just like your relationship. Like you give care and attention to your relationship so that it grows, share the same to your financial life.
There's only one way to determine your financial compatibility—a heart-to-heart conversation. Hone your communication skills.
No matter what stage your relationship is in – be it a shiny new one, committed for a long time, or already married – it's never too late to discuss money.