Today I want to talk about love and money - namely, how to properly pursue financial independence as a couple! Because whether you like it or not, your partner's money habits will affect your journey to financial independence.
This is why I want to share something more personal than usual. I want to share everything that Amon and I have learned as a couple with over fifteen years of marriage and making financial decisions as a couple. I’ve condensed those life (and love) lessons into ten important questions every couple should ask each other on their journey to financial independence. But first, let’s establish some ground rules.
Ground Rule #1: These questions are specifically for couples in the “serious” stages of their relationships, i.e people in long-term relationships. In other words, these aren’t exactly questions you should be asking a recent Tinder match after two dates.
Ground Rule #2: I believe these questions should be asked all at once. You should sit down with your partner and go through all ten questions together. Where and when you do it is up to you.
Ground Rule #3: You should document both you and your partner's answers to each question. You can record these in a journal, with the understanding that both of you can change your answers in the future if you choose.
Ground Rule #4: There are no right or wrong answers. You and your partner may not agree on everything, but understand that working through conflicts and coming to an understanding is more important. For example, if your partner wants to buy a new car every five years and you want to buy a used car, you need to come to a resolution that will suit you both, such as buying a new car every 10 years instead.
Ground Rule #5: Please remember that I’m not a relationship counselor! There may be issues in your relationship that affect this conversation negatively, which may be symptoms of a bigger problem. If you think this is the case, put these questions aside until you’ve resolved them. Now let’s get to the questions!
1. What Is Your Policy on Loaning Money to Relatives?
To dig even deepers, another good follow-up would be: Are you supporting (or do you plan to support) any family members? This question may not be the most important, but it’s a good way of gauging your partner's expectations. It can also be a source of conflict for a lot of couples. This can be a dealbreaker for many, so it has to be addressed head-on.
2. How Much Money Have You Saved?
This is such an important question, and some couples stay together for decades without ironing this out. When you talk about this, it’s really important that you’re open and honest, because how you deal with money in a relationship depends on trust. This question is a great opportunity to build more trust in your relationship.
3. How Much Debt Do You Have?
A lot of couples don’t want to talk about debt until it’s too late. This might be when you want to buy a car or house. It’s best to talk about these things early in the relationship because it can often be a shock when someone doesn’t know that their partner is in debt, and can negatively affect the relationship.
4. Are You Comfortable Investing or Do You Prefer to Keep Your Money in the Bank?
When it comes to investing, some people believe in the stock market (or some other form of investing) and others stay away - often because they see investing as a form of gambling. But I believe that the best way to grow wealth in a relationship is to invest. You might agree with that, but if your partner doesn’t, this might lead to financial conflict.
5. Are You a Saver or a Spender?
The hard truth is that two big spenders generally won’t achieve financial independence, and two big savers generally will (but they should try to have some fun on the journey!). At the same time, if one person is a saver and the other is a spender, a deeper conversation needs to be had. You and your partner need to find a common ground about spending and saving that you can both agree on.
6. How Do You Feel About Merging Finances Once We’re Married?
This question has a lot to do with the question about how much your partner has saved. Because if you’ve saved $200,000 and your partner has only saved $200, you may not want to merge your finances if you’re the only one bringing anything to the relationship. Or maybe you do! Either way is fine, but you need to talk about it first. That way, there are no surprises or resentment when it’s time to have that conversation.
7. Do You Have a Budget . . . and Can I See It?
Seeing your partner's budget is important. You want to see where their money is going, what they spend it on, and what they save it on. You can learn a lot about your partner's financial habits from their budget. And remember, it’s not just you looking - you have to share your budget with your partner, also! See how your budgets line up, compare how you each prioritize line items within your budget, and identify that common ground (if there is one!).
8. Will You Support Me if I Choose Not to Work?
This can also apply if you choose to pursue a passion that only results in a small income. This is a great question because it’s not just about money but also about teamwork and equality. Not every relationship is going to be equal in terms of take-home pay. You and your partner may not be working at the same time, and even when you are, one of you might be earning significantly more than the other.
And in a situation where your partner wants to pursue a passion project over a stable job, are you willing to support them financially and vice versa? It’s best to have the conversation now if such a situation arises in the future.
9. What Type of Bill Payer Are You?
Talk about how, and when, each of you pay your bills. For example, do you make minimum payments or do you pay the full bill upfront? Do you set your payments up for automatic bill pay or do you use another form of payment? Do you have trouble organizing your bills? Do you have issues with paying your bills on time? These questions are important because they can create a lot of conflict and tension in a relationship. How your partner pays bills can have a lot of further implications on your life together, so it’s important to talk about it early on.
10. What Is Your Dream . . . and How Do You Plan On Paying For It?
It’s great to have a dream, but it’s just as important to take action. Amon and I dreamed of financial independence, so we put together a plan to earn more, save more, and invest more money. That was how we achieved our dream. So talk to your partner about your dreams, your aspirations . . . and tie that back into the money conversation. How are you going to use your money to fund your dreams, and where is that money going to come from?
So, if you can get through these ten questions with your partner, you’re doing big things! Most couples don’t bother to talk about money until it’s too late. But, why wait to have these questions after you get married? The questions may be difficult and (in some cases), you might not like the answers, but sitting down and going through them with your partner can help your relationship and your financial journey in the long run.
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