The 8 Financial Questions to Ask Before Marriage

Written by mwealthgroup
Published on October 26, 2023

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As the excitement of dating leads to dreams of getting married, many couples get caught up in their love story and avoid discussing their finances. With their focus on the venue, guest list, and honeymoon, they postpone talks about their financial beliefs and habits. 

Why spoil the joy with money matters? 

But once the honeymoon is over and they settle into married life, reality sets in. The overlooked conversations become urgent, and many couples feel unprepared. 

Discussing your finances before “I do” isn’t about blaming past mistakes. It’s about recognizing the fact that many of us never learned how to discuss money in a healthy way and setting a path forward with your partner. 

Sometimes, conflict is nearly unavoidable when it comes to money. BUT…the real magic is how you approach and resolve these disagreements that truly matter. 

So as you plan your big day, see this guide as a roadmap to navigate the financial maze ahead. Have the tough talks now so your union isn’t just founded on love but on trust, understanding, and financial harmony, too.

Here’s a quick reference for financial questions to ask before marriage:

financial questions to ask before marriage

1. What are our individual and shared financial goals?


We all have dreams that require money to accomplish them - buying a home, traveling the world, securing a comfortable retirement, and more. Understanding each other's short and long-term financial goals is important in marriage. 

Do your aspirations align, or are there discrepancies in what you each hope to achieve? Work together to lay out these goals and plan for the months and years ahead.

Individual goals

One partner may prioritize saving for a house and taking an annual vacation. Another may want to pay off their loan debt first before spending on big-ticket items. Finding common ground and deciding priorities together is key.

Shared goals

While personal goals are unique, many can blend into joint objectives as a couple. Supporting each other's financial dreams reflects the strength of a relationship. You can work as a team to realize these shared goals and get on the same page for your future together. 

Ask important questions such as: When do we plan to have kids/How many kids? When do we plan to buy our first home or property? How much should we set aside as "fun money"?

2. How were you raised around money?


Our childhood experiences play a significant role in shaping our financial behaviors. The ways in which our parents managed, spent, talked about, or saved money often serve as the foundation for our financial habits as adults.

Were savings encouraged in your household? Was money a taboo topic, or was it openly discussed? Some people are raised saving every penny, while others have the mentality of “spend now, worry later”? Discuss and reflect on what you learned from your parents and consider how they handled conflicts and money.

Like it or not, our money upbringing has a lot to do with how we all interact with money now.

Recognizing these influences can offer a clearer picture of why a partner might be frugal or more inclined to splurge. It's an essential step in encouraging understanding and empathy.

In a relationship, it's not uncommon for partners to have very different financial upbringings. These deep-seated beliefs and habits can sometimes lead to misunderstandings. By discussing them openly, you can bridge any gaps and build a shared financial philosophy.

3. How do you define financial success?


Success means different things to different people. For some, it's accumulating wealth and assets. Others define it as attaining financial freedom - the ability to make life choices without money stress. Some simply view success as living comfortably without excess.

Do you and your partner share benchmarks for success? Or are your definitions mismatched?

Aligning visions of financial success paves the way for a harmonious life together. It ensures you're both working toward shared goals rather than competing aspirations. 

4. How would you describe your “money personality”?


We all have money personalities that impact how we think about and manage finances. Our upbringing, experiences, and values shape our money mindsets in big ways.

There's no right or wrong here! But understanding our different money styles helps us avoid judging each other. It allows us to be patient and empathetic when financial tensions arise. 

Your partner's thriftiness might make you bonkers when they veto a luxury vacation, but knowing where they’re coming from can help ease the conversation.

So, which money personality are you?

Saver/Hoarder

Highly responsible money controllers who build financial buffers. They meticulously track every penny and fear not having enough. They may hoard other resources, too.

Spender

Spenders get an emotional rush when they spend money. Disregard responsible money management. Surround themselves with lavish items and live beyond means. They may seek approval through expenditures.

Avoider

The avoider will “bury their head in the sand” regarding finances. They leave bills unopened and shirk money duties. Ignorance is bliss, so they say.

Money Monk

They believe money and spirituality don't mix. Downplay money's importance, sometimes self-sabotaging.

Amasser

Feel most alive with vast sums of money to spend, save, or invest. They tie emotional health and self-worth to net worth. Quickly amass wealth for power.

Ask yourself:  

  1. Which money personality do you identify with?   
  2. How has that served you in a positive way?     
  3. How has that affected you in a negative way?   

Take the time to answer each question for yourself, and then, without judgment, share your answers with each other.

Our money personalities can be like Yin and Yang - either complementing each other or conflicting in tough ways. 

So first, get to know your own financial instincts. Are you a penny-pinching saver or a "you only live once" spender? Being self-aware helps you understand how your money mindset fits with your partner's. 

Understanding each other's money triggers and quirks is so important. These insights help us avoid judgment and find balance. 

Together, you can choose to keep the parts of your money personality that help you and shed the parts that don’t. This is how you can transform into “Wealth Creators.”

Learn more about money personalities in the book, "Let's Fight About Money."

5. How much debt and assets do you have?


talking about debt and assets

Understanding each partner's financial past and present is essential before merging lives and bank accounts. Like a jigsaw puzzle, bringing two financial lives together requires seeing all the pieces first.

  • Current Financial Status: Starting a life together means being upfront about all debts and assets. Share details of all loans—be it credit card debt, student loans, mortgages, or personal loans. Also, delve into credit scores, past bankruptcy, or other financial hiccups that might have occurred. Full disclosure ensures there are no surprises down the road.
  • Tackling Debts: Debt can be daunting, but together, you can strategize on managing and eventually eliminating it. Discuss how you'll prioritize payments, whether you'll tackle debts collectively or individually, and how you'll prevent accumulating future debts.
  • Asset Accumulation: Beyond addressing debt, it's essential to talk about the brighter side—your shared financial assets. Maybe your partner has a 401K account through work, owns a car or property, or has investments in the stock market - Whatever it may be, it’s good to know each other's assets. Mint is a great tool for keeping track of debts and assets in one place, and the best part is it's free to use.
  • Determining Financial Roles: As you merge finances, deciding who handles what can save a lot of potential disagreements. Who will be responsible for paying bills, managing investments, or filing taxes? How can you delegate these between the both of you? Setting clear roles ensures smooth financial operations in your household.

As you progress in your journey, remember that your financial situation isn't static. Review, recalibrate, and communicate continuously. Both partners should feel involved, informed, and integral to the financial decision-making process.

6. How will we handle income disparities?


Income disparities can introduce complex dynamics into relationships, sometimes amplifying insecurities or shifting power balances. Yet, with open communication, understanding, and a shared commitment to equality, couples can navigate these waters gracefully.

Address feelings about income gaps

The essence of a person isn't determined by their income. Reflect on and discuss feelings that arise due to income disparities, such as one person being a high earner and the other partner earning less. Remember, self-worth isn't synonymous with net worth.

Discuss potential role changes

Life's unpredictability means roles can change—today's primary earner could become tomorrow's student or mother. Anticipate and plan for these shifts by setting clear expectations and having backup plans.

Maintain balance and understanding

Financial power dynamics, if unchecked, can destabilize relationships. Constantly reevaluate your dynamics, ensuring both partners feel valued, irrespective of their earnings. Recognize and celebrate all contributions, whether financial or emotional.

7. How do we feel about joint versus separate accounts?


Deciding on joint or separate accounts is complex, with no one right answer. It’s all about what works for you and your partner.

Some couples find unity in joint finances, while others value autonomy with separate accounts. Reflect on what would work best for you and hear each other out. With separate accounts, be clear about shared expenses and individual contributions. 

8. How will we handle financial disagreements? Crises?


Inevitably, money disputes will arise. But knowing how to “fight” or rather, a plan to communicate effectively about money can be a make or break for your relationship.

Try this approach…

ABCs of money communication

So, just as you learned your ABCs in pre-school…Now, let’s talk about the ABCs of money communication.

  1. In (Specific) Situation 
  2. When You Do (X)
  3. It Makes Me Feel (Y) 

For example:

  1. When you’re at the pro shop  
  2. You make a large purchase of golf clubs without consulting me  
  3. It makes me feel unimportant that you didn’t include me in something that significantly affects our finances.

Don’t DUCK when communicating

D = Don’t be defensive or make excuses. Try to put yourself in their shoes.

U = Don’t undermine your partner. Especially in public or in front of your children.

C = Don’t criticize. This can cause the other person to get defensive and make resolution more difficult.

K = Don’t be a “know-it-all.” Avoid acting like you know what the other person is thinking or feeling. Take time to listen.

Tips for handling disagreements:

  • Remember it’s not about “winning” the conversation. It’s about creating a win-win where both of you feel heard.
  • Each person must take accountability for their actions and talk with respect to their partner.
  • Proactively set ground rules. Decide, for example, to never argue about money when emotions run high, or seek third-party advice if disagreements persist.
  • Plan time to talk regularly about your finances, preferably 1-2x a month.
  • You can also turn to professional support. Financial advisors can provide invaluable objective guidance when determining how to manage your money.

How to handle crises:

Every relationship will face its fair share of sunny days, but it's the stormy ones that truly test our resilience. Financial crises, whether unexpected medical bills, job loss, or unforeseen expenses, can strike when least expected. Having a game plan not only provides a safety net but also offers peace of mind.

  • “Reserves”: This is a dedicated savings account to cover unforeseen expenses. Aim to save at least three to six months of living expenses, with a long-term goal of stashing away up to a year's worth. This can act as a buffer during challenging times.
  • “Set Asides”: Every month, set aside a specific amount for unexpected expenses. Even if you don't use it, let it accumulate; you'll be thankful for it one day.

Conclusion

Starting on the journey of financial intimacy with your partner isn't just about numbers. It's about unearthing emotions and beliefs and creating a shared vision. The secret sauce? A mix of mutual respect, adaptability, and truly understanding how each of you views money.

For those seeking a roadmap through the twists and turns of love and money, look no further than Martin and Chelsea Matthews of M Wealth Group. Their combined wisdom culminates in "Let's Fight About Money"—not just a read but an essential relationship toolkit. It tackles money talks head-on, championing self-awareness and placing respect at the heart of every money conversation.

Ready to reshape how you talk about money? Grab your copy of the book now. It's an investment in love, trust, and your shared future.

And if you need personalized advice, why wait? Martin and Chelsea are just a consultation away, eager to guide you in building a solid financial foundation. Begin your journey here. Your love story deserves nothing less!

Book your complimentary financial review!

Ready to change your financial future? Schedule your free consultation with Martin and Chelsea Matthews, owners of M Wealth Group.
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M Wealth Group
M Wealth Group
Together, Martin and Chelsea use their professional expertise and life experiences to provide personalized financial strategies to help clients achieve their goals.
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