5 Financial Questions to Ask Before Getting Married

5 Financial Questions to Ask Before Getting Married Header ImageYou might love talking shop about budgeting and financial planning with your fiancé – or you might dread it.

But money conversations will be a critical element of married life. After all, money touches pretty much every aspect of our lives, and the ability to understand each other and work together to navigate your finances will make it a whole lot easier.

So, let’s get talking. Here are five questions you can ask your partner today about their relationship with money. These questions will help you start a bigger conversation about your dreams, fears, and practical money needs – no spreadsheet required.

1. Have you had any bad financial experiences?

Most of us have a money mistake or a bout of bad financial luck under our belts. Whether it was a medically-driven bankruptcy (more common than you think!) or an ongoing struggle with student loan debt, it’s important to speak frankly with your partner about your respective experiences and how they’ve affected your finances today.

This isn’t just about information – though bad experiences can have a practical impact on your financial planning for years afterward. It’s about getting an understanding of what has happened in your partner’s life and what he or she has taken away from the experience.

Find out how those bad experiences impact their decision-making and how it’s changed their concerns and money plans – for better or for worse.

2.  What stresses you out the most when it comes to money?

In our experience, it’s the rare person who has a completely carefree relationship with money. Many of us have something going on beneath the surface, whether it’s worry, fear, or even denial.

That’s why it’s so helpful to take the time to find out what sources of stress might be affecting your fiancé. Maybe your partner worries about saving up enough for a home and children, or maybe he or she is worried about your wedding expenses. Or maybe it’s something completely different.

The only way to know is to ask, and to stay open and receptive to the answer. By understanding each other’s sources of fear and concern, you’ll be able to work together more effectively to address those issues and plan around them in the future.

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3. What’s your biggest financial dream?

For many people, money is a means to an end – a way to finance personal goals, provide for loved ones, or invest in the future.

So, what’s your partner’s big vision?

Does he or she dream of fully-funding your children’s college education, or maybe to travel around the world together as a family? Talking about these dreams – even the ones that seem a little wild! – can offer a clue about where you might want to direct your energy when it comes to financial planning.

This is very important: knowing what you want to achieve with your resources is a big step in developing the right habits around money. After all, it’s a lot easier to save when you know what you’re saving for.

4. Is there anything about money that confuses you?

 We’ll let you in on a little secret: even professionals encounter areas of money management that they don’t know a whole lot about. There’s simply a lot out there, which means that even fairly sophisticated people have gaps in their knowledge.

If you’re less than enthusiastic about money management, even the more “basic” concepts might feel intimidating. Talk about this with your partner, and find out what he or she is intimidated by, too. By getting these issues out in the open, you can start to think about how to tackle them – together.

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5. What’s your image of a financially successful person?

If you stop and think about it, it’s likely that you have an image in mind of what it means to be successful – professionally, financially, emotionally, etc.

What does financial success look like? To you it might be obvious, but the answer is as individual as you are – and your fiancé’s answer might surprise you!

These images can offer a lot of insight into what your partner might be looking for in assessing progress in your own lives. Talking through them can also give you more concrete milestones to think about or discuss. Some of these images might not make sense – for example, intellectually speaking, having $10,000 in a savings account versus $9,900 isn’t really a big difference, but for some people the psychological difference is immense.

Similarly, you might find that certain things that drive you crazy about your partner – his or her need for “nice” clothes or that habit of spending Saturday tinkering with investment accounts – have a deeper meaning than you thought. For some, the ability to afford quality is a critical signal of progress. For others, being financially successful means being an investor.

The common thread: Open, earnest, and honest discussion

In all of these questions, the answers can be highly illuminating – but they’ll be useful only to the extent that you can hear each other out and share in good faith. Money talks can be an incredibly fraught issue for many couples, so the more you can make them into a positive experience in your house, the better off you’ll likely be.

Keep in mind that you and your partner might not understand everything about how the other thinks, but by learning what you can from your fiancé accepting his or her point of view – without trying to change it! – you can start laying the groundwork for a financial life that accounts for both of your unique needs and perspectives.

Now that you’ve tackled this topic, are you ready for the “kids” conversation?

Children are one of the single biggest transitions in life – both personally and financially. Get prepared for parenthood with our free guide to making the right financial moves as you approach the big day.

Download Making (Financial) Space for Baby: A Guide for New Parents today!

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Important Disclosures

The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only. They are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual and do not constitute an endorsement by UNITED PLANNERS.

To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult with your financial professional. Please remember that investment decisions should be based on an individual’s goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk.

Neither diversification nor asset allocation can ensure a profit or prevention of loss in times of declining values.