I first saw this topic over at The First Million Is The Hardest and I thought I’d cover it here as well. Talking about money with a significant other can really stir emotions, which is a good thing considering you’ll be spending the rest of your life with this person. Here are the 8 questions, since I’m married already and the questions seem to be geared more to unmarried people, I’m going to try and answer them as if we were still dating.
1. Would you discuss money on the first date?
No way. In fact, if I was out on a first date with someone that brought up money I would be extremely put off. This is like asking if you would have a conversation about money with the person waiting in front of you at the super market checkout line! There needs to be some sort of connection between both parties before bringing up this subject because there are so many factors involved.
2. How long should you wait to talk about money with your spouse?
Almost immediately. In fact, since the question is asking about a spouse, that would imply that I had been dating this person before and been engaged for a period of time before getting married. Common law would be different of course.
I would actually bring up money around when we got engaged, not wait until we’re already married! Different cultures will view this question very differently.
3. Who always brings up money in your relationship?
I would usually bring it up but only in very general terms. I would never ask about how much someone makes, their debt, savings or anything else that could get controversial.
4. Is it harder to manage your money as a couple than it was when you were single?
Maybe, but you know what they say, two heads are better than one. My partner is a pretty reasonable, rational person so I don’t think being together would greatly hinder the management of finances. She may think differently though!
5. Would you offer to pay off your spouse’s debt?
I wouldn’t just hand over a cheque but I would help enable them to pay it off. Paying off debt is a major lesson to learn and the satisfaction of seeing that $0 balance should be reserved for the person paying it off. Simply paying off someone’s debt doesn’t help them in the long run. They haven’t addressed whatever the issue was that got them into debt in the first place.
6. Is debt a deal breaker?
It could be. If I started dating someone and found they were buried under a pile of consumer debt, I would question their motives for being interested in me as well as their own judgement. There are many reasons why people go into debt, many legitimate or understandable but if something really seemed odd it might bother me enough to break off a relationship.
7. Do you think it’s important to have the same money views?
The views don’t have to be the same but they should be pretty close. If one person spends frivolously and the other is frugal, there will be ongoing conflict in the relationship. This conflict will creep it’s way into other aspects of the relationship and cause more issues.
8. Can you really change how your spouse spends money?
You can’t change someone but you can enable them to change. By sharing knowledge, giving encouragement and helping the person along, they can make the change for themselves. The real issue comes when you try to help someone change and they won’t. This can then lead to the problems I noted in my answer to #7.
For the readers:
What are your views on these questions? Are there any you would answer differently than I did?