11 Financial Questions You Should Ask Before Tying The Knot
If you're engaged or thinking about getting married, you've probably talked about a lot of things. If you want kids or not, where you want to live, how you view religion and politics, hopes and dreams for the future, whether toilet paper should be rolled under or over, and so much more. But something that will impact all of these things (besides maybe which way you roll your toilet paper) is something not a lot of people like talking about; finances.
However, having these crucial financial conversations before saying "I do" will help ensure a happy marriage where you both feel supported and can pull together towards mutual and individual goals. To help get you started, our financial experts at Waldo State Bank have put together 11 Questions You Should Ask Before Tying The Knot.
1. What is your financial background, and how does that inform your beliefs and decisions about money today?
We often create subconscious financial behaviors based on our experiences with finances from even as young as 5-years-old. It's essential to start any conversation with understanding and empathy towards your partner, which means understanding their background and subsequent emotion and beliefs related to the topic.
Follow-up Questions to Ask:
- Were you raised in a financially well-off home, middle-class, or a financially unstable or disadvantaged home?
- How did that shape your beliefs and decisions about money?
- What kind of financial behavior did your parents model? Has that positively or negatively influenced you?
2. What are some of your life goals, and how are you planning for those financially?
It's easy to talk about hopes and dreams. But, make sure to plan for them too, and once you’re married, plan for them together. It's important to understand what goals your partner has, as well as if they are proactive about planning for them financially and how you can plan together for them.
Follow up Questions:
- Do you follow a budget, and how do you manage it?
- How do you allocate your budget, and what takes priority for you?
- Are you saving for retirement?
- Do you want to buy a home?
- How much do you want to travel?
3. How much money do you make?
It's essential to have a clear idea of how much your partner makes so you can make sure your joint budget and financial goals are realistic.
4. How much do you typically save each paycheck?
There are several "money personality types," and depending on yours, you may be more or less concerned with saving. It's important to agree on how much to save and spend so that you both can feel confident in your financial plan.
5. What is your net worth, and how is your money invested or held?
Some people are more risk-averse than others; some enjoy the strategy of diversifying assets while others prefer more stable investments or perhaps don't have investments at all. It's vital to have those conversations early so that you both are comfortable with the level of risk and return.
6. Do you have aspirations of a career change or move?
Are you or your partner considering changing careers that may come at a potential salary cut? Are one of you planning on becoming a stay-home-parent if you have kids? These are essential questions to ask, so it's not a surprise when these situations arise, and you can proactively plan for a potential change in income.
7. Do you want to join accounts and finances or keep them separate?
While separating finances reduces spending power and can often build resentment between spouses, for some, they do consider it beneficial for their particular situation. Whether you join finances or keep them separate, it's important to set clear expectations early on for how finances will be managed.
Follow up Questions to Ask:
- How will we manage finances together?
- If managing separately, how will we split costs?
- Do you want to be asked before spending a certain amount?
- Will we work together to pay bills, or will one of us be in charge of paying bills and balancing the budget?
8. How much and what kind of debt do you have?
Most people have debt; however, what kind of debt and how much debt can make a significant difference in how it impacts your future and finances. Make sure to have a clear understanding of what your partner is bringing into the marriage, so you aren't surprised by the financial burden. Be honest about your debts as well; walking into unknown debt can cause distrust and resentment.
9. What's your credit score?
Whether it's buying a home or a family car, as you set out to achieve financial goals with your partner, one of the major factors will be their credit score. Make sure you have a clear idea of whether this may help or hinder your goals so you can plan accordingly.
10. Do you have any other financial obligations other than supporting yourself (such as a child or family member)?
A complete financial picture doesn't end with planning for your spouse's direct expenses; it includes their obligations to others.
Follow-Up Questions to Ask:
- Do you have parents or siblings that may need financial help either now or in the future?
- How will we balance and prioritize our family's finances with the needs of others?
11. What financial institutions do you currently use, and why? Do you want to stay with them?
Especially if you plan on joining finances, it's essential to be on the same page about what financial institution you will join together and what factors are priorities for each of you. For example, is it the location important to either of you? Mobile banking features? Do they value a community bank where people know their name and give personalized advice, or do they prefer a large national bank?
As you discuss all of these things, sometimes involving a financial expert who can help you assess your joint financial services and direct you to services that will best serve your mutual goals can be very beneficial. Get started today by contacting our team of experts at Waldo State Bank.