ARE YOU $OUL MATES?
There’s a reason zero romance novels include the strapping hero whispering into the heroine’s ear, “My ATM balance is in the six digits.” Talking money isn’t exactly arousing. Still, you need to learn to navigate crucial financial conversations.
It’s time for a different kind of talk with your partner.
You swiped right, share a Netflix account, and co-adopted a pooch. But even when a couple passes certain relationship milestones, one convo often goes overlooked: “When you meet someone new, you try to figure out if you’re physically, emotionally, and spiritually compatible, but it’s less instinctual to focus on whether or not you’re financially compati- ble,” says Manisha Thakor, founder of Moneyzen, an investment advisory firm. And if you think about it, that’s a pretty big oversight, since money plays a major role in your happiness together. If you’re serious about the dude you’re seeing, it pays to get both of your answers to these key questions.
1. What’s Your Financial Baggage?
Discuss where your hang-ups began to understand each other’s hopes and fears. DID Both of Your parents Work? how DID they handle income?
Most of us observe how our parents navigate their finances… and then we either mimic them or consciously try to do something different. If your expectations don’t match up when it comes to what the two of you want to do, be clear about where you’re willing to compromise, says Tonya Rapley, founder of the financial-education blog My Fab Finance. Try “I don’t see myself ever quitting my career, but I’d like more manageable hours eventually.” Or “I expect a guy to contribute 50/50 to a relationship and at home.”
how DID Your parents talk About Money?
Maybe his said there was never enough, while yours liked to spend now and pay later. “The way our parents did or didn’t talk about money can make us fearful of it or act irresponsibly with it,” says Rapley. “If his parents never talked about it with him, he may be less financially mature than you are.” Take that as a sign to keep a close eye on money matters and discuss them more often.
Do You have ANY Financial regrets?
Debt can have a major impact on a relationship, so this may be the most important question you can ask. Ease into the topic to avoid anyone getting
defensive, advises Rapley. Then say what is owed and why. And it’s important to share how much you make and how much you’ve saved, says Farnoosh Torabi, author of When She Makes
More. Once all the facts are out in the open, you can work as a team to create a plan of attack. “Start by doing what it takes to get out of debt, then build up savings,” she says.
Do your parents pay any of your bills?
“Being fiscally tied to parents can signal that a person is delaying a major step into adulthood,” says Torabi. If he’s hesitant (or unable) to pay for his own cell phone, there may be other milestones he isn’t ready for. Whichever of you is in this situation should explain why. Next, establish what it will take to become independent and build a financial life as a couple. Start small—with a joint phone plan—or cut up that credit card, says Torabi.
2. Where Does your paycheck Go?
Find out how he spends his money on the reg so you don’t sweat the small stuff.
how Do you track your money?
He might have everything automated…or his finances could resemble his clothes-strewn apartment. Same goes for you. “People can be open to changing the way they deal with money in their 20s and early 30s,” says Hilary Hendershott, a financial consultant and wealth manager. “If you want to sync your money-management styles, speak up and be specific about what feels comfortable.”
Does anyone Depend on you financially?
Both of you have (hopefully!) divulged if you have a kid (or several) you’re supporting. But you should also be upfront if you send your mom a monthly check to help her get by or if he regularly sends money to a cash-strapped friend. Revealing these kinds of constraints presents a fuller picture of your finances. Don’t judge, warns Rapley, but do ask, “Do you see yourself doing this forever?” If he’s been weaning his BFF off, A+! But if you’re assisting your mom for good, factor that into any joint budgeting.
What splurge Would you never Give up?
The daily yoga class? Season tickets to college basketball games? No matter the indulgence, come clean now to head off bitterness later on. “When you’re honest about things you won’t compromise on, it’s easier to find common ground,” says Torabi.
3. What are your money Dreams?
You have big plans for the next decade and beyond… but does he?
What’s the one big thing you’re hoping to save for?
“The things we save for in life reveal what we value,” says Janice Goldman, author of Let’s Talk About
Money. Asking this question of each other will highlight your priorities. If you’re both socking away cash for a house down the road, great. But if his savings are earmarked for a year of travel while you’re saving to go back to school, you need to sort things out.
What Do you think your life Will look like in 10 years?
Get specific about your visions for the future. Ask each other, “What kind of house will you live in?” “What car will you drive?” “What are you doing today to get you there?” says Rapley. The answers will show if you’re in sync but also reveal if each of you is doing the work now to make these dreams a reality eventually. If the responses indicate a detailed plan to reach that goal, then you’re good to go.
Take off The rosecolored glasses and see what’s really going on.