When the ceremony is done, the celebrations conclude and the honeymoon is over, newlyweds come back to the grind, and get on with their regular lives. What lies ahead of them are real life challenges that they must juggle with each day of their lives—responsibilities, work, family and finances. While these issues are bound to cause stress, if you’ve discussed them with your partner prior to getting married, then half the battle is won. There are no surprises (or shocks!) and you are well-versed with the modus operandi.
A lot of the marital discord can be avoided just by having a few honest conversations before tying the knot. Some questions you might want to consider:
1. What is your attitude towards money?
Everyone was raised differently when it comes to money and managing it. Depending on your family’s way of life, you could have picked frugal spending habits—or not. So before taking the plunge, it’s essential that you and your partner discuss your attitudes about money. It need not be necessary to have the same habits or attitude towards financial matters, but it is particularly important to be accepting of each other’s ways.
2. What are your financial goals in order of your priority?
You always need goals to help structure your life: career, fitness, vacation, and so on. Finance should not just make it to the list, but also be the first on it. If your financial goals differ from your partner’s, find out ways in which all your goals can work together. Being in agreement means you can be more honest and communicative with each other.
3. What do you earn, what do you own and what do you owe?
The answer to this should offer you a clear assessment of your partner’s earnings, assets, and liabilities. Debts make it difficult for couples to reach crucial milestones like buying a property or starting a family. That’s why you must lay it all out on the table and work in sync to determine how to eliminate the burden of debt.
4. What are some of your money mistakes and traditions that you do not want to replicate?
Poor money management can cost you a lot so issues like not planning a budget, not saving adequately, or neglecting retirement plans can cause great damage to your funds. Knowing your partner’s financial history is critical and gauging how well they learn (or don’t) from their mistakes tells a lot about their individual personality.
5. What’s your career plan?
It is important to weigh the financial impact of each other’s choices, as early as possible. If you join forces and agree on what to tackle first, both of you will reach there faster. Also, it is imperative that you are able to fully support your partner in doing what they long to do, to reach their highest potential.
6. How are we going to merge our finances?
A big part of merging your life with your partner’s has to do with finances. It’s important to consider creating three accounts—yours, mine and ours. Another vital aspect to understand is whether the ownership of Physical and Financial assets will be single or joint.
7. Understanding your partner’s risk and leverage tolerance.
It’s important to know what the inherent financial nature of your partner is. Is he someone who takes on a lot of risks—like leveraged positions in stock markets or huge loans to start a business? Sometimes partners can possess very different tolerances for risk. One can be a risk-taker while the other, conservative. So also ask yourself if you agree to comply with his disposition for risks.
8. What are your risk mitigating and risk fencing strategies (like trusts, insurance, and wills)?
This may be the most difficult question, but if only one partner is financially independent then this is a critical understanding that you must seek, especially in large families, with multiple stakeholders as it will help ward off conflict later on.
9. What are your beliefs when it comes to helping family/siblings (yours and mine) financially?
This question will help you check the alignment of your value systems. Certainly it is one of the most important ones to ask as it will give you an intrinsic perception of how your partner will get along with your family or vice versa. If you or your partner is not open to the idea of fending for each other’s families, then it’s a clear deal-breaker.
10. How do you plan to prepare yourself for retirement financially?
One of you will be more calculated when it comes to making decisions than the other. Figure that out, and then talk about how you are going to come together to make a decision about your investments that will support your retirement life.
Understand that you must be able to make decisions and manage your money together as one unified entity, because marriage is intended for you to be a team, for two people to become one person. If you can’t share your money together, you can’t share your life together.