5 Personal Finance Questions To Ask Your Partner
Honey, I need to talk you about our money situation…
Let’s talk brass tacks. Not to scare anyone in a relationship but arguments over money and personal finance is one of the leading causes of disagreement in a relationship with many citing disparities and conflicts with money being a contributing factor that leads to break-up or divorce. While we are not a marriage counselling service, money and your finances should be discussed openly and freely in any relationship. It should not be a taboo subject. While money does not always bring happiness, it could be contested that how we manage and utilise our personal finance certainly does have a major role in the lifestyle we lead. Here are 5 questions you must ask your significant other regarding personal finance. You owe it to your relationship.
- Where do you want to be in a year, 3 years’, 5 years’, 10 years’ time?
You knew this was coming. A stock-standard question in many a realm and when it comes to personal finance the notion certainly holds. Ask yourself the question. We all have goals in mind and personal finance goals should be the same. In a relationship sense, you ideally should strive to be on the same page when it comes to your ambition and planning. Determine where and when you hope to achieve certain objectives surrounding your personal finance. There is no point ‘winging it’ to build savings/clear debt/buy a home – whatever your personal finance goals and ideal end point is without devising a clearly articulated strategy to get there. Make goals and reflect on these often, perhaps even adjust them as you both see necessary.
- Where does all my money go!?
“He blows all his money on sport, his car and another weekend with his mates!” “She blows her money on shopping, makeup and another pair of shoes!” Sound familiar? You’ve got to be brutally honest with each other here and come together to figure what you each view as being a need versus a want, what is a luxury and what is a necessity? Of course that new pair of heels is a necessity, right? Bring it back to our first question regarding goal-setting. About having mutual goals and a shared perspective on where you are heading, together. If you have a shared goal of something like a summer vacation, then perhaps put the luxury-shopping on the backburner and hold off, with the funds instead going toward the holiday reserves. Like any relationship, it’s about sacrifices and coming together to achieve common, shared goals. Clichéd messages aside, think about what you jointly value and look to limit the unnecessary expenses that will stand in your way of achieving your shared personal finance goals.
- What anxieties do I have over how he/she manages their/our money?
Similar to the previous question, yet this is more about shedding light, igniting discussion and making adjustments to better improve your current and future personal finance situation. Like we said before; be honest. Brutally so, in order to improve your joint outlook. Managed correctly you are helping, not hindering your relationship surrounding personal finance. One of you may be a proficient spender and the other a proficient saver. One might spend too much on luxuries, the other may be too frugal and intent on saving. Treat your personal finance, like you handle your relationship. It’s about establishing a balance, acknowledging your partners’ pitfalls but not punishing them because of their habits, whether you view them as right or wrong. You are not always 100% perfect, so be accepting and invite discussion concerning personal finance to better your habits and decision-making ability.
- Material gifts, Yes/No?
Birthdays; yes. Christmas; of course. Anniversaries; plausible yes. Valentine’s Day; marginal yes or no. Any other milestones that are not noteworthy probably don’t require the presence of gift-giving in our books. You know of the couples who seem to be forever buying each other material gifts. In many an instance, a case of one-upping seems apparent; she buys him a gold watch, he buys her a gold watch that also records your sleep patterns, your daily fitness tracker and dietary intake. He buys her a trip to the beach, she buys him a holiday to the Gold Coast. You get the idea. We are not saying this is a bad thing by any means, simply not all couples have to and need to show affection by way of material gifts. It’s not to say the couple who buy material gifts for each other are any happier than those who don’t. Work out a common ground and decide how you want to celebrate your relationship. Don’t feel as if you need or are supposed to give gifts because of a few calendar dates. Think bigger picture. If your intentions are saving for a home or a summer vacation, perhaps the need is not there for money to be spent on unnecessary gifts that may limit your longer-term plans.
- Should we have joint accounts?
Scenario; It’s your wedding day. You’re exchanging vows, and it goes something along the lines of “I give you my glowing smile, my forever care and attention, loyalty and what not… and I give you my student loan, my car repayments, three maxed-out credit cards among other lines of debt” Not overly romantic, but possibly honest and familiar, right? In answering the overarching question, it depends. It’s not our place to determine that yes/no you should combine all your finances, including debt once you’re with someone. There are possibly many various factors that contribute to reaching a decision here but one point should be crystal-clear. The ambition, short & long term goals should be united, be it via separate or joint bank accounts. It would be recommended to give each account you both have a purpose. Perhaps create a joint savings account for long-term plans you harbour ambitions toward. Maybe even a Christmas Saver could be a goer, for set contributions toward an account that neither of you can touch until Christmas each year. An emergency fund to ensure reserves are on hand to overt times of financial hardship. Maybe a joint account specifically for everyday costs and essentials. Think, rent/mortgage payments, petrol, utilities, groceries and any other bills you may encounter. Then once a set amount has been deployed to each of these accounts the remainder could lie in your personal, separate accounts. Therefore the remainder could be used on him spending a few dollars on the car and her on shopping. You get the general idea.