5 Money Questions Every Couple Should Discuss Before Marriage
Getting married is a huge commitment. After the rainbows and butterflies, reality will come knocking at your door. Last year, New Straits Times reported that one of the biggest causes of divorce in Malaysia is financial issues. But don’t let that scare you away. Financial matters are often stressful and it is without a doubt, a very sensitive topic; but by asking tough money questions, it can help couples to keep those stresses to a bare minimum. Here are some tough but worth asking questions before you tie the knot.
How much debt do you have?
Addressing debt is probably one of the toughest issues to discuss with your significant other, but it is a vital discussion to have. Finding out that your partner has debts when you are already married can make you feel cheated. Believe it or not, financial infidelity is one of the main causes for couples to call it quits. So, it is better to be upfront about your debts and tackle it straight on. This includes credit card debts, student loan debts, personal loans as well as loans made from family and friends. If you are on the receiving end and you found out that your partner has debts, ask yourself whether or not you are willing to help your future spouse with your own income. This conversation will not be easy, but it is a necessary one in order to avoid any feelings of being cheated and resentments.
What does your employment situation look like?
Discussing your annual income is often deemed as taboo in our society, and usually people would avoid talking about it. It is indeed a private matter but when you are marrying someone, it is important to be transparent with each other so both of you can gauge what kind of lifestyle you will be having once you are married. Employment situation is not just about money, but also finding out the benefits yours and your significant other’s employers are giving. Other related questions to this topic that you can ask are whether you prefer someone who works in the government sector or private sector, will either of you mind if one of you are freelancers or entrepreneurs (thus not have a steady income coming in every month), etc. All of these matter in deciding your future lifestyle, as well as your future savings.
Who is responsible for paying the bills?
Usually, the breadwinner of the family would pay for most of the bills. However, it does not hurt to discuss it so that both parties are clear on their roles. Dividing the bills equally does not mean both of you will be paying the same amount regardless who earns more. Rather, dividing equally in this matter means that you are willing to pay the bills in accordance to how much you are earning. It is okay for one person to be paying more than the other as that is what marriage is all about: compromising and finding balance. The key here is to discuss and have a mutual agreement on how much you are willing to pay for certain things. For example, if the husband earns more, have a discussion as to how much he would want to spend on rent or mortgage. This can help set a more realistic goal for your financial situation.
How much money do you have saved?
Asking your partner about their savings is not about sizing up their wealth status. In fact, it is okay if they have RM0 to their name. At least now you know and both of you can work out a plan on how to increase your total savings together. This question can also help determine whether your partner is a spender or a saver. This way, both of you will be able to decide from the get-go how much should be contributed to your savings fund. Having a savings fund is vital nowadays as you never know when you will be needing it. It is always a good idea to have some cash stashed away. Telling your partner about your savings and making a savings plan together will also help both you and your partner to be more consistent in saving up because you have each other to check with and it will lessen your temptation to keep that money in your own pocket.
What are your investment plans for retirement?
Retirement may seem so far away but the earlier you start, the more you can have for your retirement. In this fast-paced world we live in, there are so many ways for you to grow your income. Some people invest in gold, some invest in stocks and there are even some that invest in properties. Discuss with your partner which medium is the best for you as a couple. A long-term plan is more likely to keep you more disciplined in handling your financial matters as the longer period of time won’t make you feel the need to put aside a large sum of money at one time. Instead, you would be able to set aside a little amount in a consistent manner. Besides, after all those years of hard work, surely you would want to enjoy a bit of it.
No matter how you approach this matter, the most important thing is that you are honest and transparent with your partner. Finance is a serious matter and it can make or break your relationship. So, be honest, lay out all your skeletons, and sit down and have an adult conversation. Remember, this conversation is not about finding faults or to put anyone down but to help and support each other’s financial growth. No matter how your financial situation is, remain calm and always choose a route that is best for both of you. All the best, lovebirds!