14 Questions about money to ask your partner

By Harper Banks

As your relationship becomes more serious, you may consider merging your finances by moving in with your partner or purchasing an asset together.

However, before you take the plunge, it’s essential to know where your partner stands financially. We have a look at 14 questions you should ask so that you can establish this. 

Tip: Worried about what your partner will think about your debt? Get help today.

What should you ask your partner?

Sheila-Ann Robey, financial adviser at Lifeguards, an affiliate of Liberty, believes that the following are the most important financial questions that partners should ask of one another.

1. How much do you earn?

We live in a society that deems it taboo to disclose your earnings. However, if couples want to combine their finances and budget, this requires open communication. If you or your partner are uncomfortable sharing what you earn, perhaps joint household budgets are not for you.

2. Do you budget?

There's power in budgeting. If your partner is already in the habit of budgeting their finances, your joint financial journey will be the better for it.

3. How much debt do you have?

It's important to understand your partner's level of debt because this speaks to their relationship with money. Whether they have a lot of debt because of poor financial decisions in the past, or in the present, this question is important as it will shape your financial future together.

4. What is your credit score?

Having established how much debt your partner has, you also need to be aware of their credit score, as this impacts their ability to obtain further credit.

Your partner may have quite a lot of debt, but if they diligently service it, their credit score will improve. If, on the other hand, your partner has very little debt, but they miss their payments, their credit score will still suffer. In the long term, this may impact your ability, for example, to get a bond together.

5. Do you pay "black tax”?

In many South African cultures, supporting your family financially is commonplace. As a result of the economic climate, many of us are obligated to support non-immediate relatives. Being blindsided by this information may place pressure on your relationship.

6. Do your parents have enough to take care of themselves?

Ageing parents may not be a financial burden as a relationship begins, but as they age and inflation rises, their needs – and the costs associated – become an ever-increasing worry.

You and your partner need to ensure that you work as a team to cater for things your parents did not foresee.

7. How much do you save?

In most relationships, one party is usually the saver, and the other is the spender. Establishing this dynamic early on may avoid trouble in the future, and encourage the spender to become more frugal with their funds.

The saver may have already accumulated a nest egg that will assist in acquiring assets or planning for retirement or an overseas trip. The key is always to maintain open communication to avoid any resentment creeping in.

8. What do you think our future looks like?

If your partner is the spender, they may have grand ideas about the lifestyle they envision for you both. Any plans and dreams come with a price tag, and it's essential that you set realistic goals in your relationship and work towards them together so that you can live your dream.

9. Do you want children, and if so, how many?

This may seem like a premature question if you've just moved in together, but it's a crucial question nonetheless.

On average, it costs between R5,000 and R10,000 per month to take care of a single child – before they've even entered grade 1. On top of this, the average cost of 12 years of schooling is approximately R3 million. 

The decision to have children will most definitely affect how you will fare financially.

10. What does a good relationship with money look like to you?

The best way to grow, not only within your relationship, but as a human being, is to ask the difficult questions and become aware of what you are - and what you are not - doing.

Having candid conversations with your partner about money will surely strengthen your relationship and improve your relationship with money.

Giles Maynard, regional manager at Carrick Wealth, notes some additional questions that should be asked in any long-term relationship.

11. What are your long-term goals?

It's important to set these out so that you have a clear idea as to where you are both going, and what you are working towards. Whether it's buying property or settling debt, having clearly-defined goals will keep you both aligned and focused with your finances.

12. How often do you review your finances?

Many people agree that they should review their finances, but they never really go ahead and make time to do this. Maynard suggests setting a date to discuss this every quarter. As a couple, you need to align your review sessions with your goals.

13. Do you make use of a professional adviser?

A third party can help in providing an objective perspective. Having someone with experience to guide you is always a good thing, especially when you first start your financial journey.

A professional can look past the emotions and have the foresight to pick up things that you might not see. They'll also have insight into the right financial solutions for you.

14. How much do you set aside for retirement?

This will offer insight into how much you need to save to live comfortably, and the amount you’ll need before you can stop working. This should also help you both with refining your long-term financial goals.

Click here to find a suitable retirement annuity.

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