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Finance for Couples

Making sure you’re on the same financial page with your partner.

It's important to talk to your partner about money

When you’re in a serious and committed relationship, it’s exciting to plan how you’re going to spend the rest of your lives together. A key part of any talks about the future needs to include talking about money.

Finance may not seem like a romantic topic, but it can make or break your relationship (money problems are a leading cause of divorce). Here are eight key topics to discuss with your partner about money and finance. The sooner you address these potential issues, the less likely you are to face conflicts about your finances in the future.

Couples Money Topic #1: Budgeting

Budgeting is one of the eight pillars of finance

How you manage your money day-to-day has a big impact on every other aspect of your finances and can cause a lot of friction in your household if both partners aren’t on the same page.

  • Are you a spender or a saver?
  • How do you track your spending? Do you have an idea of how much you spend each month?
  • What amount would you consider to be a large purchase? Do you feel that we need permission from each other before making those?
  • Do you have spending limits on things like dining out or entertainment?
  • What do you do with leftover money at the end of the month?
  • Should we open a joint bank account or keep our money separate?

Couples Money Topic #2: Debt

Debt management is a key pillar of personal finance

Debt can quickly lead to tension or resentment in a relationship. One partner may feel like they’re doing all the work to pay off the debt while the other adds to the problem. To avoid this, every couple needs to be open and honest about the debts they have and create a strategy for paying them off.

  • How much debt do you currently have?
  • Do you pay off your credit card balances in full every month? If not, why?
  • How do you feel about carrying debt? Do you try to pay it off as quickly as possible?
  • Do you have a plan to pay off your current debt?
  • What is your debt-to-income ratio?
  • How many credit cards do you have? Do you have a strategy that determines when you use them?

Couples Money Topic #3: Credit History

Credit is a key pillar of personal finance

Contrary to a common misconception, your credit scores never “combine” into one score, even after getting married. Each person in the relationship maintains their individual credit score and will be taken into consideration when taking big next steps in a relationship like buying a home or financing a new family vehicle.

  • What’s your credit score?
  • Do you use any credit monitoring tools?
  • How often do you check your credit report?
  • Do you have a strategy for improving your credit score?
  • Do you have any upcoming plans that require having good credit?
  • Are you planning on applying for any new lines of credit such as a loan or a new credit card?
  • What’s the worst negative item you’ve ever had on your credit profile? Bankruptcy, foreclosure, a collection account, overdrawn credit, a charge-off? How long ago did it happen?

Couples Money Topic #4: Savings

Savings is a key pillar of personal finance

Your approach to savings will have a huge impact on your ability to meet milestones as a couple. It can also determine how prepared you are to handle unexpected life events like a layoff or emergency car repair.

  • Do you set aside a set amount of money or percentage of your income every month or every paycheck? If so, how much?
  • If you were laid off, how many months could you go on savings to cover your bills and other monthly expenses?
  • Is there anything in particular you’re saving up for? A major purchase (like a vacation), or an emergency?

Couples Money Topic #5: Retirement

Retirement is a key pillar of personal finance

Following right along the conversation about savings, another major topic you need to cover as you get serious is retirement. This conversation should actually be about more than just your assets. You also need to talk about your retirement dreams and goals to make sure you’re on the same page. After all, if one partner wants to travel the world starting at age 65 and the other can’t imagine giving up work entirely, this can definitely cause conflict.

  • What age do you want to retire?
  • Once you retire, do you want to not work, work part-time or find something less rigorous, such as a consulting position?
  • Do you want to move once you retire? If not, are you working to pay off your mortgage in full before you retire?
  • Do you want to travel during retirement?
  • What kinds of hobbies or interests do you want to pursue during retirement? Do you want to go back to school and if so, how do you plan to pay for it?
  • Do you have retirement investment accounts like a 401(k) or IRA?
  • Do you have other long-term assets or things like annuities to supplement Social Security income?

Couples Money Topic #6: Basic Needs

Basic needs are a key pillar of personal finance

This topic focuses on how you pay for basic services and manage your bills. It may not seem like a big deal, but the habits you’ve developed for daily money management can have a significant impact on the peace and serenity in your household. So you need to get organized together and make a plan – particularly for who pays what and how to balance the bills if you have separate accounts.

  • What are all of your monthly obligations and how much money does each take, on average?
  • How do you pay your bills? Do you mail payments, use money orders, pay manually online or set up recurring payments?
  • When do you pay bills – when they’re received or when they’re due?
  • Do you have money allocated for expenses like new clothes in your budget or do these expenses come out of savings or free cash flow (or do they go on credit)?
  • Do you have a set budget for food and groceries?
  • How often do you comparison shop on things like insurance and service providers?
  • Do you pay for a lot of monthly entertainment streaming services? If so, which ones do you use?

Couples Money Topic #7: Banking

Banking is a key pillar of personal finance

How and where you bank may also have an impact on your financial life as a couple. This topic may come up several times throughout your relationship as your life together evolves. For instance, you may agree to keep your accounts separate and use whatever banks you used when you were single once you move in together, but then you may decide to consolidate to joint accounts after you get married.

  • Which bank or credit union do you use?
  • If you use a credit union but your partner doesn’t, could your partner benefit if you can foster them as a member?
  • Do you use online bank services or mobile applications?
  • How often do you check your balances?
  • What’s the minimum balance that you’re comfortable having in your main checking or banking account?

Couples Money Topic #8: Healthcare

Healthcare costs are a key pillar of personal finance

The final topic you should chat about is how you deal with healthcare and health-related costs. This is usually more important as you work towards marriage since policy enrollment can be impacted by marital status. You should also include long-term concerns in this discussion, such as life insurance.

  • Do you have health insurance through your employer or privately?
  • How much do you pay out of pocket for things like prescriptions?
  • Are things like emergency care and ambulance transport covered by your policy?
  • Do you get any benefits or rebates for preventative care? If so, do you take advantage of them?
  • Do you go for yearly checkups with a doctor, OB/GYN, and dentist?
  • Do you have or need vision care?
  • If both of you are covered, will you keep insurance separate even after you marry or switch to one partner’s policy? If you’re staying separate, how will you handle covering children?

If you have questions or you need help eliminating debt so you and your partner can start a debt-free life together, we’re here to help. Call Consolidated Credit today at (844) 276-1544 to request a free, confidential debt and budget evaluation with a certified credit counselor. You can get credit counseling together or separately – whichever option works best for you both.