5 money questions to ask your partner
Although 94% of Canadians believe their partner’s money management skills are important in a relationship, about half of them wait until they’ve been dating for six months to a year before they talk about finances, and 19% never get around to “the money chat.”1 Talking about money may be uncomfortable, but research shows the earlier couples start talking about finances, the better they are at managing debt and setting financial goals together.
If you’re ready to have a financial heart-to-heart with your partner, here are five questions you can ask to get the conversation started:
1. What’s your credit score?
Asking your partner about their credit score might seem a little personal, but if lenders, landlords and employers can run a credit check on your partner, you should be able to too. If you and your partner don’t know your credit scores, you can request this information from one of the Canadian credit bureaus, TransUnion or Equifax. While you’re at it, request a copy of your credit report so you can ensure outstanding debts have been paid and that there’s no fraudulent activity on your accounts.
2. What is your total income?
It can be easier to pay down debt and set financial goals when you know how much money you have to work with. Start by sitting down with your partner and adding up your combined household income; remember to include every form of income including salaries and wages, retirement income and investment gains so you get a complete picture. This information can become your starting point as you build a realistic financial plan and set financial goals that work for both of you.
The more you work as a team, the better control you’ll each have over your household finances."
3. How much debt do you have?
It’s never too soon to have an open discussion about how much debt you’re each in and the types of debt you have. Have you or your partner racked up credit card debt, are you using lines of credit or do you have student loans? Write down your outstanding balances and add up your combined debts. Being straightforward about your current debt situation will help you plan how to pay down debts together and work towards saving for the future.
4. How do you see your role in our household finances?
Together, establish your roles when it comes to budgeting, paying bills and making financial decisions. One way to approach this is to divvy up financial tasks based on your strengths – do you bring in the most money? How are you with saving or investing? Are you the one who crunches the numbers, or do you prefer collecting coupons and finding the best deals? Once you nail down your individual roles, have regular check-ins to make sure you’re both on track. The more you work as a team, the better control you’ll each have over your household finances.
5. What does your financial future look like?
Ask your partner what they want to do with their money in the future, and discuss your financial goals together. Maybe one of you dreams about opening a business, while the other would like to invest in real estate. Talking about the future can help align your goals and make sure you’re both on the same page financially. Ask each other questions like what kind of lifestyle you want, how often you’d like to go on vacation and whether you’re planning to have children (and how many). Figure out how much you’ll need to save in order to reach your shared goals.
Now that you’ve had your “money chat”, you and your partner should be feeling more comfortable sharing financial decisions and managing household finances together. As your lives change, you’ll likely go through financial ups and downs, career changes and other life events. What doesn’t have to change are the conversations you have about money. Remember: being connected on financial matters can help make smart financial decisions easier along the way.
Your next task? Building a household budget together.
This article is for informational purposes only. For personalized financial advice, you should contact a qualified financial advisor.
1 “Money: It doesn’t have to be a relationship wrecker.” Financial Post. 18 May, 2013. Web.