One of the biggest struggles that we faced early in our marriage was getting on the same page financially so today I want to share my top money questions to ask your partner. Brandon and I had a great marriage but we had very different (and strong) opinions on how to handle budgeting and savings. He was all about the now while I was all about planning for the future. It was so challenging. It felt like we were facing a different money fight every week.
- You spent how much on coffee last week?
- You did what without asking me? That’s A LOT of money to not even mention.
- Did you transfer money out of savings again? Why?!
It was endless and, frankly, annoying. We were able to recognize each other’s strengths so we knew there was hope. He was great at managing the day-to-day finances but I was better at long-term planning and investments. All we had to do to stop the arguments was get ourselves on the same page, sharing the same goals, and working toward the same end. We instituted something we called ‘Money Monday’. Each Monday night we sat down to discuss finances – where we were with our budget, how much we had put aside into savings, and how much we had available to spend. It was a hard adjustment for us at first but we ultimately got there. If you’re in a similar place I recommend asking your partner these money questions:
What is your favorite personal indulgence?
When you’re combining finances and trying to get control of your budget, it’s common to start cutting services or luxuries. Before we even get to the discussion over whether or not to cut cable (which we did and you can read about here) it was important for us to identify the personal indulgences that we don’t want to reduce or let go. For me, it was my Stitch Fix habit and pedicures. For him, it was his vape habit. We factored the expenses for these things into our budget as though they were bills. That way, we both automatically knew that we were holding on to something that we enjoy just for fun.
What is your top savings goal?
When we first married my top savings goal was to save enough money to pay 3 months expenses so we could move to a new (bigger) city. At the time, what I didn’t know, was that his savings goal was to pay cash for a new car. Neither of our goals was bad or wrong in any way but we definitely weren’t on the same page. Discussing our savings goal helped us sit down and create a new budget (adding in two savings account and dedicating a new amount to each account). It also helped us compromise on long-term plans and have discussions about other things we didn’t fully realize were on the horizon (like which big city we were going to move to).
How much can I spend without discussing it?
Brandon and I both enjoy shopping so it was important to us that we set a limit on how much we could spend without discussing it first. The last thing we ever wanted to face was a financial hardship or a lack of savings because we were both shopping too much. In the end we agreed that we could spend $500 without having to discuss the decision with one another. It’s very rare that either of us even come close to spending $500 without a conversation but we know that we could. A couple of years worth of ‘Money Monday’ has helped us communicate so well that we are pretty informed of each other’s spending.
Do you donate to any charities or organizations?
Donating to charity has always been very important to me. It’s something I’ve done since I was 16 years old and it’s so ingrained in me that I look at charitable donations as a non-negotiable in our budget. At the time we married, Brandon didn’t financially donate to any organizations. He volunteered his time at various places but financial donations was a different story. As we spoke about the value of supporting causes and organizations, we ultimately agreed to support Room to Read, Charity:Water, and the ASPCA. Not only does it makes us happy to donate to causes we like but it’s also nice to connect with each other over watching these organizations accomplish change in the world around us.
What are your thoughts on loaning money to family or friends?
Fortunately, we were on the same page about our thoughts on loaning money to family or friends (you help who you can when you can) but if you’re not in agreement on this it can cause issues in your future. If a family or friend reaches out to you in need, do you really want to start a fight with your partner over how you’re going to respond? Brandon and I have discussed who we would help, in what situations, and up to what amount so that the decision is made if anyone ever reaches out for help. We’ve also agreed that we will never lend any amount that we’re not willing to lose as most people that need to borrow money are often not in a position to pay you back.Have you discussed these 5 money questions with your partner? Click To Tweet
When you’re ready to start managing your finances as a team, check out my eBook Far Beyond the Budget: Managing your Marital Finances. Are you on the same financial page as your partner? Do you have any money meetings or routines that help keep you connected over your budget?