A budget is a huge part of your future married life. This section doesn’t tell you how to come up with a budget but it does deal with ten questions that will shed some light on to your partner’s financial stability.
What is your current credit score?
A credit score is calculated using a variety of factors to determine whether you are worthy of a mortgage, credit card or other loans. Your credit score can affect how much money you can borrow and how much interest rate you will be charged. Credit scores are not only used by banks. They can be used by landlords, government agencies and insurance companies as well. The higher the credit score number, the better the ranking. Although, take note that not every country has this same system.
Do you have any personal debts and what would justify going into debt?
Anything from student loans to unsettled credit card bills count as a personal debt. In addition, you are entitled to know if your partner has been involved in any illegal methods of acquiring money such as underground loan sharks.
Do you expect to use our joint finances to settle debts from your single life?
This is important as once you sign your marriage contract, you might be liable for your partner’s debts as well. It is important that you formulate a repayment system together to ensure that any personal debt does not get in the way of your financial goals. You might want to consider talking about joint versus separate accounts and being debited directly from those accounts to settle your debts. Also, prenuptial agreements are no longer confined to wealthy celebrities. Although some people see it as unromantic, others view is as a necessity.
Will we have a budget and who will decide it?
Budgeting is a big responsibility. It does not necessarily have to be the breadwinner of the family to do it. In fact, I know many couples where the wife does not work and she does the finances. I also know of some lucky couples who are so wealthy that they don’t really need to think about every dollar they spend. Whichever type of couple you are, it is definitely an important step in your relationship so sit down and plan where your money will be going.
What is your idea of a good investment?
This involves talking about short, medium and long term scenarios. It also entails discussing the potential returns of each investment, when you should cut your commitments short and how to cut your losses. Nowadays, there are many different types of possible investment options. You may be adept at stocks while your partner may be a property wizard. In this scenario, it is important that you both share the knowledge with each other. You never know whether you will need to handle the other investments one day and without acquiring your partner’s knowledge and style, their efforts would have been wasted.
How much do you save every month?
This is obviously going to change with every promotion, salary increment and stage of life. For many couples, the wedding and honeymoon take up most of their savings. Once you add in children to the equation, it can be very difficult to regain back that money. How much a person saves every month should be thought of as a percentage though. That way, it is a constant part of your monthly salary that is allocated away before you even get a chance to spend it.
How much money is "enough" money?
I love the idea of going shopping without having to look at price tags. I want enough money so that i know I can get the best healthcare for my family and I. I would like a comfortable house, enough money for my children’s education, and some extra money to spend on yearly holidays after deducting my savings percentage. That, for me, would be enough money. Anything more would be an extra blessing. Everyone has their own definition of enough money. If your definitions do not tally, then you may have one partner excessively spending or excessively hoarding away money before either of you reach your goals or allow yourselves to enjoy having the money.
What are your thoughts on life insurance?
My father always preaches how life insurance is not for you but for your children. By the time the policy matures and starts to make money, you would be too old to really enjoy the money. On the other hand, that may be the time you really need it the most - to spare your children from the burden of paying enormous medical bills. Either way, life insurance is one of those things that is not limited to one per person. So how much insurance is enough insurance?
The "Money Dance" during weddings is commonly seen in Filipino and American weddings. The bride dances with all the male relatives from the groom's family and the groom dances with all the female relatives from the bride's family. For each dance, the relative pins money on their gown in some fashionable way. The couple, hopefully, have their dress and suit covered in money by the end of it. Some guests even fashion crowns or headdresses out of the money.
Do you prefer separate bank accounts?
My fiancé and I are planning to have both separate accounts and joint accounts. This is purely because I was brought up in a culture where it was important for both to exist with their own money and at the same time be jointly responsible for the family. The joint account would be allocated for household expenses, expenses related to children, family holidays, education, etc. It would be used as the primary account. Our salaries would also be automatically contributing to our own individual accounts, although this would be a much smaller percentage. Separate accounts might be used for our own shopping, for example. Alternatively, you could choose to have the money that you had before marriage untouched and then open a joint account after marriage. Personally I do not feel it is bad karma to have your own money for a rainy day. I don’t see it as tempting an earlier divorce. I just see it as a form of insurance.
Do you trust me with money?
This is probably the most important question out of all the 10 listed here. It sums up everything covered and it’s a basic yes or no. If it’s a no, then there needs to be a why. If it’s a yes, then it’s a matter of how much. How much you trust your partner and with how much money you would trust them to handle. Ideally, you should be able to trust your partner with all your money and all of their money combined. But, if they come from a background where financial education was not put importance upon when growing up, then you might want to make sure they have sufficient knowledge first before handing over the reins. It is not impossible that someone who has never handled money as a teenager or young adult, will become even better and more responsible once they get a taste of it. Interest in how to handle money can be cultivated.
This list is simply a get-to-know-you starter pack of questions and by no means replaces valuable advice that an actual financial advisor can provide. Money is one of the things that married people frequently fight about. Understanding your partner’s outlook toward money might help prevent that. We are getting close to finishing all 100 questions now. Happy interrogating!
Amazon Price: $14.99 $3.82 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 25, 2014)
Amazon Price: $14.95 $2.96 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 25, 2014)