You’re with someone special and you feel like this is for the long haul. However, you’re curious about your and their finances. You don’t want to spring your $20,000 student loan on them after you’re married and you certainly don’t want to find out later they have tens of thousand of dollars of credit card debt. On the other hand you don’t want to jump the gun and unload all your financial mistakes and meltdowns on the first date.
How do you go about doing the money talk? Are there some things you should know about each other? When’s the best time to bring up money? I want to share some thoughts on the topic to hopefully ease you into that important discussion.
Relationships and Money Issues
First off, ‘the money talk’ is done more than just once. It’s a conversation that changes and adapts as you two grow in your relationship. Each stage opens up more topics and can lead to even more intimate conversations.
Engagement -Outline Your Mutual Goals
- Will you rent or buy?
- How will you pay the bills? Will you pay proportionally or a set amount each month?
- How much debt do each of you have(exact numbers)?
- What’s your plan to get out of debt?
Don’t worry if your answers change, just be open and honest with each other.
Marriage & Kids – Have a Practical Plan
Now that you’re married you may think you can coast, but you’d be wrong. As you two merge your lives, your finances will be intertwined whether you planned to or not. To stay on the same page, set a little bit of time to sit down to discuss your goals furher. Try to create an actionable that both of you can agree with.
- Buying a House (or Renting): Some couples really want to own real estate and others don’t. The two of you should sit down and run the numbers to see if it’s financially practical. In some parts of the country, like major metropolitan areas, around the country it may make sense to rent. Before getting a mortgage, make sure you’ve significantly reduced or eliminated your debts. It can help you qualify for a lower interest rate, saving you tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan.
- Owning a Car: If you live in a city with a wonderful mass transit area, getting a car may be an impractical use of your money. You can redirect the money saved by not have car payments, gas, and insurance towards savings or reducing your debt. If you have to have cars, don’t automatically get a car loan. Try to save and buy a car with cash.
- Retirement Planning: Even if retirement is decades away, try to start setting aside some money for it.
- Having Kids: Do you both want kids? If so, how many do you want to have? Will one of you be a stay at home parent or will you both continue to work? Do you plan on public or private school for them? Do you want to home-school?
The big issue most people stress over is whether or not you two want kids. How do you know that you’re financially ready for kids? It would be nice to review the following with each other:
- Savings: First, I’d include a baby fund or increased savings in your emergency fund to cover baby expenses.
- Budget: Can you keep your expenses under control or do you have a habit of impulse spending? Work out a plan to automate your necessary bills and savings if that’s what it takes to stay on track.
- Work: Check with your jobs to see what benefits and leave they offer for parents.
If you need to write it all down, then by all means do so. It’ll be a wonderful way to clarify certain points should you two have questions latter.
Of course unexpected surprises happen in relationships all the time. The best way to keep your love and finances in tact is by constructively communicating regularly with one another.
Do You Need Help with Money and Love?
Are you juggling relationship with money? Don’t forget to check out other posts in the series: