I’m certain that by even reading this, you are aware that money is a very important and sometimes scary topic to broach before the “I do’s”. You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again … you most definitely want to talk money before marriage. It does not get easier to discuss once you’re hitched and it is just good common sense to know about your intended’s money language, money comprehension and money fitness.
This is the second installment of our P.E.C.K. pre-wedding money conversations! Our first installment spoke of the “P’s” – Practical. This installment is on the “E’s” – Emotional.
As I wrote in the last installment, we have to remember that everyone grows up differently and both of your money needs, expectations and desires are so important to explore together. So, let’s talk about the top seven emotional money matter questions to ask your intended before the “I do’s”.
1) How did your family deal with money?
Many of our money habits are born from what we experienced in our household growing up. Some are great habits and some simply do harm. For that reason, this is a very important question to ask each other. No shame. No “mine were better than yours”, rather, a frank discussion of how money worked in your household growing up and what you liked about it … and what you didn’t like about it. Then, ask your fiancé the same. I guarantee that, at the least, you will have more money insight into your fiancé and, at the most, you will know what your fiancé can not abide ~ or in other words, what money behavior will cause a big fight. That’s good to know going in!
2) How have you dealt with money in the past?
I would highly suggest asking each other what has worked and why you want to keep working that way. In addition, it’s important to discuss the money mistakes you’ve already made … and don’t want to repeat! Again, keep an open mind toward your fiancé’s options! They may work even better than what you currently do.
3) Who will make the financial decisions?
Every couple makes financial decisions differently. There is no right way … but not deciding how to make the decisions before marriage, can simply make every choice “the wrong” choice. I know a couple that made a hard fast rule that all purchases over $200 (it was $50 at the beginning of their marriage) must be “OK’d” by the other spouse. No matter what! Even if it’s on the other’s credit card. I know another couple that lives in a no-fault state and does not care a whit what the other does with money because they keep separate accounts and file taxes separately and split the bills right down the middle. I know another couple that decided only one of them will have a credit card and it’s because the other is too impulsive (and knows it!). Which leads directly into …
4) How much debt is too much?
Is a car payment too much debt? Is a mortgage too much debt? If you don’t already know your intended’s debt, then you are IN THE DARK (see first installment). You must know how much debt is “livable” to your fiancé and vice versa.
5) Do you need to pay off your mortgage to feel safe?
It may seem like a no-brainer, but some people feel that it’s a good idea to carry a mortgage and others can barely sleep at night unless they know they own their home outright. Which leads directly to …
6) What are your money goals and how affluent do you want to be?
This may seem like a silly question since it is obvious that the way you look at money will change over time. Please note: if one of you thinks saving for retirement is more important than a new phone and the other is living paycheck to paycheck without a thought about what’s coming in the future, you will have a big problem. Post note: winning the lottery is not a sound money goal.
7) What is “fair” for you to spend money on?
I cannot tell you what will work for you. However, I can tell you that paying for help with cleaning and getting my toes done (once a month for both) are non-negotiables in my mind ~ I also have non-negotiables of what I will not spend money on! What are the things that you spend your money on that feel too important to fight about? And, what will you simply not abide? You have to know what is a non-negotiable for your significant other and they yours. If not, one or both of you may always feel money resentment and that is relationship murder.
These PECK questions and discussions can mean the making or the breaking of your marriage. It sounds so foreboding, doesn’t it? The crazy thing is, problems with money are the biggest indicator of marriage dissolution (and it is just a good idea to get some of these discussions done so you won’t have the hurt of the un-do).