17 Financial Questions You Must Ask Your Future Spouse
Newly engaged? Congrats! While this is an exciting time, it’s also the perfect time to get to know your partner better than ever – and that includes their financial situation. What’s mine is yours can take on an uglier meaning if one of you has serious money issues. Here are 17 financial questions to ask a fiancé before marriage. Get the answers to these questions now to avoid heartbreak and disagreements in the future.
1. Should we keep our finances together or separate?
This 2016 survey found that 76% of couples share at least one bank account. It’s important to discuss how the day-to-day managing of your money will work. Will you keep separate bank accounts? Joint accounts? Some combination of the two?
Some couples find a joint account the simplest way to manage their finances. Some couples prefer to maintain independence through separate accounts. You will need to find the option that both of you are most comfortable with.
2. Is there any debt you haven’t already disclosed to me?
Even if you aren’t technically liable for debt your partner racked up before marriage, it will still affect you. The last thing you want is to find out about $15,000 in credit card debt when you thought you were ready to buy a home. Plus, if your spouse passes away, you may have to use their estate money to pay off their debt.
Be up front and honest about any debt you’re carrying. Once all the cards are on the table, you can work together to develop a plan to pay back the debt.
3. When’s the last time you looked at your credit report?
A credit report is a snapshot of your financial health. It will determine if you’re approved for loans, what interest rate you can get, and more. It’s super important for both of you to be regularly monitoring this piece of free information!
4. What’s your credit score?
Your credit report is a detailed breakdown of your lending history, and your credit score is the grade assigned to that report. Since credit reports and scores are for individuals, your scores will not automatically change after marriage. However, if one of you has a lackluster score, then it could affect and future loans – like a mortgage.
5. How will we handle income disparity?
How much are each of your currently making? Do you expect one spouse to be the breadwinner? How will you divvy up expenses if there’s a large income gap between you? This information will inform how you manage your day-to-day finances. A large income gap can also cause significant relationship struggles if not handled properly. This Forbes article listed four main dilemmas spouses with large income gaps face and how to work through them.
- The higher earner starts making money decisions without consulting their spouse.
- The higher earner is assumed to be responsible for all bills.
- The higher earner feels resentful of the financial burden placed on them.
- The higher earner leaves more household tasks to their spouse.
6. How much would you spend on…?
A car, a vacation, clothing, etc. This is a great indicator of whether your future spouse is stingy or reckless with a budget. Do you have the same expectation of what amount you are both willing to spend on shared items?
7. Do you prefer using cash, debit, or credit to pay?
This will help determine your spouse’s preferred way of managing their finances. If they prefer using their credit card, now is also the time to ask about how they use that credit card. Do they pay it off in full every month?
8. Do you want kids?
Kids are expensive, and a life-time commitment. The average cost to raise a child is $233,610!
You can’t force someone to have children, and neither should you push someone into making such a commitment if they don’t truly want it. Both of you should be on-board for kids and the expenses they bring.
9. Would you pay for fertility treatments?
What happens if you both want kids, but things don’t go to plan? Fertility treatments and adoption fees can add up quickly. Make sure you know how far each of you would go financially to bring a child into your life.
10. If you want kids, do you want to pay for their education?
Will your child attend public or private school? Do you want to contribute to college tuition? Find out how much your spouse wants to pay for and if you feel the same way. Once you’ve agreed, you can start saving immediately for future education costs.
11. Will we take on the financial burden of caring for our parents in the future?
Do either you or your spouse expect to take care of your aging parents? What does that look like to you? Paying for care? Taking them into your home? See if you’re on the same page about this financial commitment.
12. Are you willing to accept financial help from family?
Some people refuse to accept outside help, and some welcome it. Knowing which person your spouse is will prevent future arguments.
13. Who will be in charge of paying bills and/or long-term investments?
Which person will pay the monthly bills? Which person will set up meetings with the financial advisor? Talk this through now so that no financial obligations fall through the cracks. Divvy up the tasks in the way that works best for each of you.
14. What are your current monthly bill obligations?
This could include debt, but often goes beyond that. Cell phone bills, subscription services, rent and more should be disclosed and prepared for in a budget. Once you have a full list of your monthly bills, you can create a budget that prevents further debt and works toward your goals.
15. Do you have any money saved?
Do they have a savings account right now? What do they use it for? Do they have an emergency fund? Savings are necessary for financial security. Discuss how much you both want to keep in your savings, and what you are willing to spend those savings on.
Keep in mind that experts recommend you have an emergency fund worth 3-6 months of living expenses.
16. Are you currently investing?
In addition to savings accounts, are there any investment accounts in your names? This could be an employer-provided 401K, an independent IRA, or even stock market investments. What type of investments do you want to use moving forward?
17. What financial goals are a priority for you?
Finally, identify what each person’s immediate and future financial goals are. Is it paying off student loans? Buying a home? Taking a lavish vacation? Determine these priorities now so that you can create a realistic budget to meet those goals.
Start Your Marriage Debt-Free
The most important thing each of these questions has in common is that they all support an open line of communication. Couples that talk about money are generally happier. You are being proactive about your financial health, which is always a smart move.
If either of you are entering the marriage with debt, there’s no better time to develop a strategy for paying all of that debt back. You can do that by utilizing Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball Method. Discover how the strategy works and how you can apply it to your finances here.