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.