So, you've found the one! Congratulations. What a feeling! Being married to the love of your life is absolutely incredible. I'm speaking from experience here … meeting and marrying my wife substantially increased the awesomeness of my days.
As optimistic as I am, I'm not naive in thinking that marriages are all roses and sunshine. Marital fights happen all the time around raising your children, family traditions, religion, political viewpoints and, of course, money. Disagreements around the all mighty dollar have caused countless arguments and, in some cases, those disagreements have caused marriages to end.
To prevent a future divorce based on money issues, let's start off our new relationships with brutal honesty and transparency. It's not only smart for the future of our marriages, but it is also a healthy way to engage in any new partnership. We wouldn't accept a new job offer without asking a boatload of questions, would we?
Here we go …
1. How much debt do you have?
This includes credit cards, medical debt, student loans, home loans, and the dreaded “family or friend loans“. When we get married, we're saying “what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine”. Let's make sure we know what we're inheriting.
2. How much money do you have saved?
If someone has $0 to their name, this doesn't have to be a deal breaker. It's just good to know. This question can spark conversations on whether your partner considers themselves more of a spender or a saver … and maybe how you two could work together to increase your total savings.
3. Are you investing for your retirement?
Knowing how important it is to start retirement investing as early as possible, getting an answer to this question is an important one. Perhaps they are taking advantage of a company 401k matching plan or investing in their own Traditional or Roth IRA. This is a great opportunity for you to discuss what retirement means to both of you.
Related Interview: Simple Millionaire Investing Strategies with the 401k, IRA and 529
4. What is your income?
In our society, this question is quite taboo and very personal. But if we're thinking about marrying this person, we better ask it! Marriage is as personal as you can get!
5. How do you feel about merging our finances together when we're married?
I'm a big proponent of merging all of the finances together, but that is a personal opinion for you and the marriage you want to have together. For me, combining our finances and accounts makes it feel like we're one team working together toward our collective family goals.
6. If you do want to combine income, what financial goals would you be interested in working on together with our double income?
When Nicole and I got married, she was making around $60,000 and I was making around $40,000. Marriage helped us become a 6-figure couple like THAT!
We paid off a $48,032 of our debt within the next 18 months of our marriage. Your double income (especially if you have no kids in the beginning) could be HUGE for your future finances.
Related Article: 3 Smart Alternatives to Merging Money in Marriage
7. What do you spend your money on that makes you happy?
This question will give you a good gauge on your future partners' passions. Does shopping or gambling make your partner happiest? Good to know!
8. How do you feel about renting or owning a home?
If you're financially strapped at the beginning of your relationship, it is good to know how your main squeeze feels about owning versus renting. If you both have a good amount of money for a solid down payment, homeownership could be a smart option for your new marriage.
9. What are your career (or entrepreneurial) goals?
This is a good one to know especially if their future career goals require additional educations expenses such as a Master's degree. If they have business ownership as a future goal, nailing down those specifics will help you analyze the positives and negatives of what you're getting into.
10. Can you live on a monthly budget?
One of the best ways my wife and I have developed a strong marriage is by living on a monthly zero-based budget. This budget assigns each of our dollars each month to a specific category to ensure we're moving our family in a positive direction.
11. Is charitable giving important to you? If so, what percentage of your income do you give or want to give?
This question helps you get an understanding of a very important topic – giving. Whether your partner is religious, spiritual or has a special place in their heart for a cause, political affiliation or a charity, you’ll want to know about it.
Related Interview: Why I Give 10% of My Income to Charity
12. If you had $1,000,000 and had to give it away, what would you do with it?
Your partners answer to this question reveals where their passions lie. Are they all about family? Are they all about saving the planet?
13. Do you want kids? If so, how many do you want to have?
Opinions on the “right amount” of children vary widely. Knowing where your partner stands on having 1 kid vs. 5 kids vs. 0 kids will help you feel more comfortable going into your life long commitment together.
14. What are your thoughts on adoption or IVF if we're not able to have children?
Assuming you and your future spouse want to have children, have a discussion together on what you'll do if you run into difficulty with conceiving. Adoption or IVF are excellent ways to make parenthood a reality if the traditional route is not an option.
15. What is your policy on loaning family money?
The external factors of in-laws, siblings and even close friends can play a huge role in the stability of a person's marriage. When we add money into that quagmire, we're asking for trouble. It would be smart to know where your partner stands on loaning money to the people they are closest to.
Related Article: 3 Smart Alternative to Loaning Family Money
16. What are your dreams for life?
We're getting married so our partners can take us to the next level in life. They are going to help us become better people. We are going to be enhanced versions of ourselves and go where we've never gone before. So where is that place for your partner?
Do they want to travel the world?
Are they interested in having a bunch of kids and be involved in their activities and sports?
Do they want to own a business someday?
All of these questions will lead to eye-opening and incredible conversations that start your marriage off right. The openness, transparency, and honesty that come out of these discussions will hopefully lead to a great start to your marriage.
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Carpe Diem Quote
“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.”
– Robert C. Dodds