It might sound unromantic, but learning how to talk about money in your relationship is one of the most important things you can do to keep your love alive, because money problems are one of the most common reasons for divorce.
Money touches all of our fears, our insecurities, our hopes and our values. So here’s an exercise to help you get onto the same page: a list of money questions for you and your partner.
Put aside an evening, make your favourite dinner, and spend some time independently writing down your answers to these questions. When you’re done, swop answers and read what your partner wrote. These questions will ask you to think about your financial goals, beliefs and worries, and learn about theirs.
Depending on where you are in your relationship, you might want to skip some of these questions. Agree which ones you want to answer before you begin.
It’s important to go into this exercise with love, patience and empathy for each other. Remember, this exercise is mostly about learning about your partner, not just convincing them of your point of view.
Your money type
- What emotions come up for you when we talk about money?
- What’s more important to you: security, or experiences?
- Are you a spender or a saver?
- What did you like about how your family handled money growing up?
- What didn’t you like?
- What worries you most about your partner’s financial behaviour?
- What are the ways you think your partner is better with money than you are?
- What worries you most about your own financial behaviour?
Your money situation
- How much do you earn?
- How much debt do you have?
- How much do you have in savings and investments?
- What are some big financial goals you have for the next 5 years?
- What about for the next 30?
- What steps are you taking to reach your financial goals? What steps would you like to take?
- What’s the worst money mistake you made in the past?
Budgeting and money management
- Do you like to have a detailed budget?
- Do you save at the beginning or end of the month?
- Do you think it’s important that couples share all their money in a single account? Why?
- Do you think it’s important that couples have some private spending money? Why?
- What is the maximum we could spend independently without consulting each other?
- What are the indulgent expenses that give you the most happy?
- What are the things in our household budget that you think we should cut back on?
- Who should be in charge of investing for our future?
- Do you think debt is bad?
- If there came a time where one of us earned much more than the other, what would be the fair way to split the bills?
- How much do you think holidays should cost?
- How much do you think we should have in savings for emergencies?
- Do you hope to start a business, study further, or take a long sabbatical one day? How would we fund this?
Kids and family
- Do you want our (future or current) children to go to a private school? Do you want to be able to pay for tertiary education?
- If we had children, how would we split the costs of childcare?
- If either of our parents became sick or couldn’t look after themselves any more, how much would we support them?
- Would you help your siblings or extended family financially if they needed it? To what limit?
- What’s one thing that really excites you when you think about your future together with your partner?