Relationships and Money: Here Are My Answers

Lance at Money Life And More first brought to my attention a post theme that’s been making its way around the personal finance blog niche.  Originally started by Chase Bank, the idea is to get your thought on eight different questions that link together money and relationships.   Read through my answers and let me know what your answers are in the comments below!

  1. Would you discuss money on a first date?  It’s been quite a few years since I went on any sort of ‘first date’ but I don’t think I ever discussed money in any great detail, nor do I think it’s a great idea.  I think first dates are really meant to get a feel for the other persons personality and to see if you ‘click’ in any way.  Most of the time, just by answering the typical questions that come up on a first date (what do you do?  what kind of things do you enjoy?), you’ll get at least a rough sense of how money falls on their radar.  That’s enough information for a first date, if you ask me.
  2. How long should you wait to talk about money with your spouse?  My answer is that if you wait until you’re married (or even engaged), you’ve already waited too long.  I think when the idea of getting married first comes up, it’s important for both people to have a solid understanding of where things like and also to have a good idea of where things would go if marriage were considered.  So many marriages end in divorce these days, and a big reason is that things are uncovered that were never discussed beforehand, but probably should have been.  Finances are one of those things, and if you get everything out in the open before marriage is brought into the relationship picture, it’ll increase your chance of success (or give you warning signs for those that maybe it’s not such a great idea).
  3. Who always brings up money in your relationship?   I probably bring it up more often, only because I do the day-to-day tracking of our finances, so while my wife knows where we’re at from a high level, she isn’t as close to the finances as I am.
  4. Is it harder to manage your money as a couple than when you were single?  Well, from a purely work driven standpoint, you have more transactions to handle as you increase the number of people involved in money management, so it’s definitely harder.
  5. Would you offer to pay of your spouses debt?  After we got engaged and before we got married, we started combining our finances, merging accounts, budgets, debt, and integrating all tracking into one monthly tracking spreadsheet (which I’d been using beforehand).  Right when that happened, we both started thinking of everything as ‘our money’ including the debt that we both had, they became ‘our debt’.
  6. Is debt a deal breaker? It never was for my wife and I, but I could see how it could be.  As we got more involved in our relationship, we both had a pretty good sense of where each other stood financially.  When we ended up starting the talk about getting married and how our finances would fall, there were no big surprises for either of us.  I can see where you could find something out that would make you question how they got there, whether this put in jeopardy the chances of success, or why it was never revealed beforehand.
  7. Do you think it’s important to have the same money views?  I think you have to have similar money views, but they don’t have to be the same.  My wife and I agree on the bigger principles, both knowing that saving for retirement, not carrying credit card debt, and other big things that we both agree on.  However, we slightly differ when it comes to how to save money.  While we both want to save, I put saving first, allowing what’s ‘left’ to be spent, where my wife wants to spend, and save what’s left over.  In the grand scheme of things, this is fairly minor compared to some of the other wedges that can be much bigger, and also what works is that we generally compromise roughly equal amounts of the time, where she’ll sometimes convince me to spend a little first, and I’ll convince her at other times to save rather than spend.
  8. Can you really change how your spouse spends money?  I think you can influence your spouse, but you can’t change their spending habits directly.  Any big change has to come from within.

There you have it.  The eight questions about money and relationships and my answers.  Again, let me know your thoughts in the comments.

21 thoughts on “Relationships and Money: Here Are My Answers”

  1. I think that couples absolutely need to discuss money before getting married. It’s important to be on the same page financially, especially since money issues are one of the leading causes of divorce.

    I would likely consider debt a deal breaker.

    And yes, you and your spouse will likely alter how the other one views money.

  2. I agree with the “our” money thing–it’s crucial to be a team when it comes to managing the money!

    Great questions; I may have to post my own responses sometime soon.

  3. #2: What? If you are discussing money before marriage, it’s gonna be a rough ride.
    #5: Yes, I already did!
    #7: Yes, it is important. Luckily my wife is wonderful about spending/saving/investing.

  4. I think it is always important to have similar goals and values. It is real important in the long run when you make big decisions. Issues like children, parenting, finances and goals is important in any relationship and all of them should be discussed before you get engaged.

    • I agree. We even knew before we got married that our goal was to have my wife stay at home once we have kids. Agreeing on that up front made that transition very easy!

  5. I am with you on these answers. I wouldn’t discuss money on a first date unless it was directly asked. I would save that for a later time. You should talk about money before you get married, but you can usually get a feel about how each handle money way before that time.

  6. What a great post! I feel that it is easier for me to manage money as a married couple because we hold each other accountable. When I was single, nobody really held me accountable so I was able to spend money without thinking much about the consequences.

  7. I’d never talk about money on a first date but I think money does start to become a factor in a relationship. Nobody likes debt so if it’s not discussed openly then when the hard times hit it’s an easy argument to have.

    I like the idea of sharing finances but then when it comes to Christmas you’re technically buying yourself a gift. I seem to be in the minority (having asked this question with friends before), but I think the household costs should come from a joint account where a pro-rate (to income) amount is placed in the ‘pot’ each month. This will cover the bills and leave each person with money to spend as they wish. This becomes a problem when there are children and if one person is earning significantly less than the other, but in principle, even when married, I think finances should be separate to a degree.

    You also raised a really good point about similar money views. I’d say that it is important. If one person wants to spend and the other wants to save it’ll be a constant battle.

    • Yeah, with completely combined finances, plus the fact that I’m the sole earner, you can definitely feel like you’re buying your own gift, but I never really think about that. The budget is there for Christmas, and then it’s broken down by person, and honestly because we save up throughout the year, the source of the money is long forgotten.

  8. I never brought up money on the first date but I believe there are queues you can pay attention to in order to see how someone manages there finances. For example I dated this one girl in college and one day we went to Taco Bell and her credit card got declined. That was the end of that relationship =)

  9. 1. Would you discuss money on a first date? I agree with Beagle here. Talk about money could be a turn-off on a first date. It’s all about getting to know someone’s personality, not if you’re compatible financially.
    2. How long should you wait to talk about money with your spouse? Again, agree with Beagle here. I think my hubby and I started talking about money and our financial situations soon after we got “serious” – even before we decided we were going to get engaged.
    3. Who always brings up money in your relationship? Typically my hubby does. Even though I’m manage the bills/money/savings/tracking, he usually brings it up most often because he wants to know “can we buy this?” He LOVE to shop for deals, but at least we talk about things before we buy it.
    4. Is it harder to manage your money as a couple than when you were single? When I was single it was just me, in an apartment, with only a car loan and insurance to budget for. As a couple there were more people to budget for, a house, two cars and all the additional expenses that came along with it. Not to mention planning for having a family. Each additional family member added to the difficulty, but not exponentially. Having a good budget and plan in place before getting in to a relationship made the transition easier. Once we got engaged, I started tracking our money and expenses, even though they were kept separate in the spreadsheet. When we were closer to our wedding, we became joint on each other’s accounts and I started combining our income and expenses/savings together. The challenge was that we got paid at different times so had to figure out how to allocate that out without the risk of coming up short when bills came due.
    5. Would you offer to pay of your spouses debt? Is debt a deal breaker? I’m sure debt could be a deal breaker for many people. Neither of us had any out of the ordinary debt when we got together. But because I’m a frugal person and highly value financial sound-ness, I would want to get a plan together to help pay off any high debt. But if the potential spouse was not willing to change their ways or follow the new plan then I’d have to re-consider getting serious about that person.
    6. Do you think it’s important to have the same money views? I think it’s important to be able to compromise in the realm of household finances. I don’t think you need to be exactly alike in the way of money views, but as long as you can agree on what the long terms goals are and how to achieve them, then you’re better off than most people.
    7. Can you really change how your spouse spends money? I came in to our relationship as the budget/savings person where he was living paycheck to paycheck, sometimes borrowing money from his parents until he could pay them when he next got paid. It was a learning process for him in terms of budget planning, especially for expenses that happened once a year like insurance, and for me in budgeting for two people. Fortunately he was open to learning how to adjust his spending and saving money. We also had to reign in his habit of buying something just because it was “on sale” even though we really didn’t need it. 🙂

    • You make a good point about each person making it a little more complex, but not exponentially. Our first child was a big adjustment, but our second was barely a blip on the radar, simply because we had a much better idea of what to expect. The money still got spent, though!

  10. Great stuff; talking money during a first date would be incredibly tacky and an immediate turnoff. But prior to even getting engaged, it’s a must. You don’t want to commit yourself to a complete financial trainwreck without at least knowing that going in.

  11. Being married for 5 years, we discussed money matters a few months after our relationship became official. We don’t talk on it that much but we do tackle it once in a while. Now that we are married, we try to discuss money matters very lightly and avoid having a misunderstanding. It is a good thing that we are also into debts.

  12. We’re a weird couple in that we discussed money even before we started dating since we were friends. It was college money talk, but that paved the way to our savings afterwards too. I think discussing finances is just another way of communicating and communication is necessary for a marriage to work.

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