by Agatha Kulesza
Honey…do you have any money? We’ve all heard the statistic that half of all marriages these days end in divorce. But did you also know that out of all those divorces, almost 60% occur because of money problems?
From all my years working in the finance industry, I have seen that attitudes and perspectives about money vary wildly from person to person. So I can understand the difficulties that can arise out of two people joining their lives, and money, together.
I believe a lot of financial disagreements come from couples avoiding the “money talk” until too late in the relationship. Most of the time, you don’t really find out what someone’s money situation and outlooks are until you are in a serious relationship with them. And what good does that do you if you are already deeply involved with them beyond the point of no return?
When I ask people this question, the response I often get is that it’s wrong to mix love with money. Money can’t buy you love or happiness, they tell me. And I do agree with that but lest not forget that money is a huge part of life; it’s something you have to deal with on a daily basis and something you will have to deal with as a couple. So if you and your partner deal with money differently it can easily be a deal breaker in your relationship.
Once you marry someone you connect your entire life with them, and that includes money too. So if they are in a huge amount of debt, that now becomes your debt. If they are a super saver and you are a super spender that can become a point of argument between the two of you.
So, isn’t it worth it to find out where your honey bunny sweetheart stands with his or her money before you get into bed with them and their money? Yes indeed! That’s why you have to ask them! And don’t be scared or feel weird about it – it’s a perfectly normal and necessary conversation.
I’m not suggesting that on the first date you should be asking someone to bring their bank statements along to analyze over dinner. But if you happen to be dating someone that you feel could be a potential lifelong match for you, then don’t you want everything out on the table before deciding is they’re “the one”?
Here are just a few of the questions I would recommend asking:
1. Do you have any debt? What kind and how much?
2. Do you have any savings or investments? How much?
3. How do you treat your own money? Do you prefer to save it or spend it?
4. What kind of lifestyle do you want to live? How much money do we have to make per month to live that kind of lifestyle?
5. Do you want to be a dual income couple? Or would you prefer one of us be the main breadwinner?
6. Do you want our money to be combined? Or would you prefer we have separate bank accounts?
7. At what age do you want to retire? How do you plan to support yourself in retirement?
Those kinds of questions are a great place to start and can give you lots of insight into how your sweetheart’s money mind works. If you can have this kind of open conversation about money with each other you will both know exactly what you are getting into and that makes things much easier down the line if money issues do come up. Who knows, it could even save you from becoming one of those divorced statistics!
Agatha Kulesza is the owner of Agatha K, LLC. She helps both business owners and individuals learn how to take charge of and manage their money for financial success. For more of Agatha’s best money tips and tricks, go to www.Agatha-K.com and subscribe to her newsletter or follow her on Twitter @AgathaKulesza.