Getting Serious? 5 Financial Questions You Need To Ask Your Partner
For most of us, when we’re plunging headfirst into all the happiness and tribulations of a potentially-serious relationship, financial matters are probably the last thing on our minds. We’re more concerned with what the lives we’re planning on living together will look like and how we’re going to fit the impressive collection of stuff we’ve managed to acquire over our short lifetime into a new shared home. You know, totally practical things. But just because you’d rather focus on co-ordinating couple outfits than getting deep and meaningful about your respective financial situations (let’s be honest, who wouldn’t) doesn’t mean you should sit this one out.
It’s not the most romantic thought in the world, but money really can impact your happiness and you’re going to need to be 100% on the same page as your partner financially if your shared lives are going to work in the long run. After all, nobody wants a bad credit score popping up to ruin the opportunity of buying your dream house further down the line, or losing your hard-earned savings if, god forbid, your relationship doesn’t go as well you’d hoped.
Luckily, we’ve taken some of the hard work out of it for you with this handy list of the financial questions you need to ask your life-partner-to-be, before you take your relationship to the next level.
#1 “Do you want to put some or all of our money in a shared bank account, or keep things separate?”
For some couples, creating a joint account for shared expenses is the logical accompaniment to moving in. If that sounds like your jam, and your partner is on board then you should definitely go for it. But for those of you who aren’t so sure it’s time to have “the talk”. Keeping a separate bank account has its pros and cons, like keeping your financial autonomy, while not being able to easily stay on top of communal living expenses. Whatever your stance, it needs to be broached in conversation so you can come to an agreement that works for everybody involved.
#2 “Have we both been completely honest about our budgets?”
Now this is where things are about to get brutally honest. It’s time to do away with those “I want them to see the best of me” pretences and lay your soul bare – weird quirks and hidden debts included. If you’re about to make a serious commitment to each other, like finding a place together or becoming Facebook official, it makes sense that you’ll want to know all the embarrassing details beforehand. Have debt acquiring interest from that ill-fated time you were between jobs? Let your main guy or gal know. Still paying your parents back for the time you totally stacked their new car after first getting your license? Add it to the budget. You both need to know how much money the other person can realistically commit to your financial plans as a couple before either of you gets shackled with paying off a debt they had no part in creating. “Honey, I love you but I really can’t help cover rent this month” is so not a great look.
#3 “Will you let emotions get in the way when it comes to major financial decisions?”
Buying a house or car together can be stressful at the best of times, but when emotions are running high and compromise feels like an impossible task it’s easy to let your feelings override your financial sense. When it comes down to the hard stuff, you need to know whether your partner will be able to put aside their personal feelings and focus on making sure the details are fair and, perhaps most importantly, legally correct. It’ll be a tough question to ask without coming off as suspicious but it really is important you iron these details out before you go further down the road together and realise your financial philosophies are just not compatible.
#4 “Would you be willing to sign a prenuptial agreement if we ever decide to get married?”
While it might seem like the prerogative of rich celebrities, a prenup isn’t the terrible thing that it’s cracked up to be. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your partner or that you suspect them of only marrying you for your money (C’mon guys, let’s be real, what money). In fact, a prenup simply means that what’s yours before you entered into holy matrimony will remain yours unless you don’t want it to. It just gives you that little bit of financial peace of mind if times get tough or your relationship heads south. You’ve worked hard for your money, why should you have to give it all up? If your partner is truly in it for the long haul, they won’t mind one bit.
#5 “Would you be scared if we financially planned for the unlikely breakdown of our relationship?”
Squirrelling away money and thinking about prenups might sound like the symptoms of someone who’s just not that into you, but really it’s just about protecting oneself for a potential future that we’re all praying won’t ever come true. It’s not being fatalistic, if anything it’s being realistic.
If all else fails, try and think of it like this: if the zombie apocalypse happens you’ll want to have your supplies and safe haven ready to go, right? Well, if you break up with your partner, having your own emergency fund will make sure you can have a good wallow without freaking out about whether you can afford to buy a lifetime’s supply of ice cream. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got the priorities covered, friends.
Shannon Coward is a Brisbane-based freelance writer and corgi aficionado. She enjoys long walks to the nearest doughnut shop, romantic evenings spent with Netflix and dreaming of travel plans she really can’t afford. You can find her little slice of the internet here.