Whether you’re married, engaged, dating or have never been in a serious relationship, you’re probably no stranger to arguments about money. Sadly, some of these arguments can even lead to the end of a relationship. A recent Kansas State University study revealed that arguments about money remain the top predictor of divorce.
What can you do to make sure money fights don’t spell trouble for your relationship? Before things get too serious, begin to have conversations about money. Even if you’re already in a serious relationship, having your partner answer these questions can really help you two take inventory and ensure you’re on the same page.
1. What’s your debt situation? Most of us have some outstanding debt. Three out of four of us are paying back credit card debt and approximately one in three have on average nearly $29,000 in student loan debt, according to the latest Credit Karma data. While it’s likely your partner will have some, find out about it sooner rather than later.
Ask your significant other if he’s willing to share what kind of debt he has and how much. Be willing to share your debt situation, too. Ask about his repayment plan. Is he on track to pay down his debt on time? If you’re engaged or thinking about marriage, consider working out a debt repayment strategy together. It’ll make for a happier marriage in the long run. In addition, if you work as a team, you’ll be able to shrink that debt faster.
2. How do you use credit cards? Everyone has a different credit card philosophy. Some people prefer to avoid them, sticking to debit cards or cash. Others love to earn as many points and miles as possible with rewards cards. It’s important to find out how your partner thinks about credit cards to see if you have a similar philosophy.
3. Have you ever checked your credit report? Your credit report is essentially your credit history. Combined with your credit score, it shows lenders how likely you are to pay back your debts in a timely manner. It’s a good idea to be aware of what’s on your credit report because some of the biggest financial decisions in your life can depend on it. According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in four reports can contain errors that the individual is responsible for correcting.
If you’re getting serious with your partner, be sure you both have a general understanding of your credit reports and have communicated with each other any significant moments in your credit history. Who knows? You may one day decide to apply for a loan jointly, and a joint application takes into account both of your credit histories. Know what the other person will bring to the table.
4. What’s your savings philosophy? As you and your partner get more serious, it’ll become evident whether he’s a saver or a spender. If you’re considering marriage down the road, it will be important to be on the same page when it comes to making future financial plans. For instance, if you believe an emergency savings fund to be important but your partner does not, you could have trouble justifying setting aside a percentage of your income for a rainy day.
Every couple will choose to handle finances differently. The
most important thing is to keep the lines of communication open when it comes to money, except maybe on Valentine’s Day.