Fifty Money Questions to Ask Your Partner
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In the realm of romance, talking about money is often considered taboo. However, there’s no need to be uncomfortable when a new relationship gets serious and the conversation turns to your finances. If you and your significant other plan to be together for the long haul, it’s important to understand how your partner thinks about money — both the topics on which you agree and the ones on which you don’t.
To make a relationship work over time, both parties need to know where they stand financially and recognize their go-to strategies for dealing with money. If one of you is a spender and the other is a saver, the difference in your money-management styles could cause stress and jeopardize the future of your relationship.
Use these 50 questions across four categories to jumpstart the conversation.
Spending, saving and budgeting
Probably the first money issues the two of you will face are how much you both make and who pays for what in the relationship. These questions can help you figure out the basics of your partner’s money habits:
- Are you a spender or a saver?
- Do you know how much money is in your bank accounts right now?
- What do you spend your paycheck on each month?
- How do you spend your “fun” money?
- Do you have a budget?
- Do you know approximately how much things cost?
- How do you feel about discount stores?
- Do you buy generic brands or name brands?
- Do you prefer buying things with cash or credit?
- What kind of bill payer are you?
- What kind of gift giver are you?
- What expenses would you cut to live on less money?
- How much money do you save every month?
- How much money have you saved in total?
- Do you put money into your savings account at the beginning or end of the month (or not at all)?
- How much do you want to save for emergencies?
- What is the maximum amount one of us can spend without consulting the other?
- What are your financial goals for the future?
- How much do you think vacations should cost?
- Do you want us to have a joint bank account or keep our money separate?
- If we keep our money separate, who is responsible for paying our monthly bills and other expenses?
- How would you handle a sudden windfall? Would you treat yourself, pay off a debt or put it into savings?
- Do you gamble?
- What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
- What charities do you support, and how much money do you donate annually?
Debt and credit
Another important topic for new couples (especially those who have recently finished school and find themselves saddled with student loan payments) is how to handle debt and credit. These questions can help you better understand one another’s credit standing and the debt loads you each carry:
- What are your credit scores?
- How much debt do you have?
- How much do you spend on interest payments each month?
- Do you owe any money to friends or family?
- Do you know how much your next credit card bill will be?
- Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
- Would you consider filing for bankruptcy if we found ourselves in a tough spot financially?
- Would you seek financial counseling if you needed it?
Children and family
While you probably won’t talk marriage and children on the first date, it’s a good idea to ask these questions about children, family and eldercare issues if you plan to stay together for the long haul:
- What are we willing to spend on our parents if they get sick?
- If we had children, would we send them to public or private school?
- Do you want to pay for our children’s college education?
- Would you give our children an allowance? If so, how much?
- Do you want additional education yourself?
- Do you pay alimony or child support?
- Do your parents currently pay any of your bills?
- Would you accept financial help from your friends or relatives?
- Would you give money to your siblings if they were in a difficult financial situation? Would you seek repayment?
- How did your parents handle their finances?
- Did your parents discuss financial matters with you?
Retirement may seem too far off to consider, but it’s never too early to start saving for the future — or making sure you and your partner are aligned on your retirement goals. These questions can help you outline your expectations for retirement planning:
- How are you planning for retirement?
- What kind of lifestyle do you want to live in retirement, and will you be able to afford it with your current savings plan?
- Do you participate in your employer’s 401(k) match?
- Will we both be responsible for investing for our future?
- How will we choose stocks if we want to buy any?
- Are you conservative or aggressive when choosing investments?
While all of these questions are important, they don’t need to be answered all at once. You might find some of them easy to reach an agreement on; others may cause quite an impasse.
If you and your new partner find financial compromise difficult, consider meeting with a credit counselor or seeking help from a similar service to discuss these issues in greater depth. When it comes to financial topics, open lines of communication are always much better than avoidance or silence, and a healthy dialogue can go a long way toward avoiding relationship troubles.