We’ve all been there. You finally meet someone, and also of a sudden you both just click. One date turns into two, and before you know it, this person becomes a part of your once mundane life. Colors become brighter, laughs become louder, and the feelings of love give us a powerful sense of hope we once lost. Dare we think it? Have we found our whole husband or wife?
Possibly. If you’re willing to accept that they have over $500,000 in student loan debt, or have never managed a budget before.
Dating is hard, but dating while in debt is even harder. As much as we want to love people for who they are, finances are important. Let’s face it; it’s all butterflies and rainbows until it’s time to take major life steps such as moving in together, buying a house, or taking a trip.
It’s essential to know how your potential partner’s relationship with money is before things get messy. Here’s a finance expert and CFO of Finance Femme Kendra with 10 finance questions to ask while dating.
Do you know where you stand financially?
Before you get into the dating game, it’s essential to know where you are at in your life. Dating looks different for everyone, and therefore we recognize that not all these questions will work for every individual. Kendra says, “When asking questions about money, it’s important to know what phase in life you’re in and what your expectations are about money.” She explains further, “If you’re casually dating, you might not care to ask about retirement because you’re not looking for something long-term.”
If $5,000 were to drop on your lap, how would you spend it?
Contrary to popular belief, talking about finances while dating can be fun. Starting with an entertaining and hypothetical question can lighten up the mood and feel less invasive. According to Kendra, this question is also a way to see where your date’s mind is at, “This question allows you to see what their priorities are. Maybe their priority is to buy a car or pay off a credit card. However, this question is not for judgment.”
The key is to listen to their ‘why.’ They could also want to buy a Louis Vuitton bag, but their reason could be because they got a promotion and they’ve never owned an expensive bag before.” Their ‘why’ is very different from your ‘why,’ and that’s okay. Remember that this question is all fun and not to be taken to heart.
What was your last splurge?
When Kendra first said this question, I immediately felt it was a little invasive. However, I realized it is all about your tone when asking the question. Asking this question in a light and fun tone can alleviate your partner from feeling like you’re drilling them. Kendra also points out, “This question allows you to see what they consider a splurge. A splurge to someone can mean anything from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars.” Kendra explains, “ For example, they could say, ‘I spent $10,000 on a home, but it was for my mom who is sick, and I want her to live close to me.”
Again learning their “why” in their answer is so important. The why can give you an idea of how much they don’t mind splurging and who they don’t mind splurging on.
In relationships do you like to manage the money, or do you prefer your partner to do so?
“This one might be a little rough,” Kendra says, “If you two both prefer not to manage the finances in the relationships, this can cause issues. On the other hand, if you like to manage finances and your partner doesn’t, that’s perfect. Balance is everything.” Now, before you get excited, remember around here, we like to know the “why.” If your partner prefers to manage the finances, it’s important to determine the intentions before letting them do so.
How much do you make?
We know. We know this can be the most uncomfortable question to ask. The reality is, at some point, you’re just going to have to ask. Take your time; it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Kendra says,” “it’s okay to ease your way into this question. The best time to ask is if future plans are being made, like living together, for example. Answering these questions can help to learn what resources can be shared in the household. How much can you two afford together?”
As a freelancer, I also understand how difficult it can be to answer this question. Having a career that isn’t “traditional” can come with its highs and lows. I don’t make an exact amount every month, and there are many entrepreneurs and freelancers in my position. I brought this up with Kendra, and here’s what she had to say, “If you’re in a position where you don’t earn a set salary, but your partner does, just use your tax return. Also, make it clear to your partner that month to month looks different. At least with your tax return, they will have an idea of what you make yearly.”
Joint bank accounts or separate?
This is a question that should be asked before you and your partner decide to share a space. You and your partner can feel strongly about this question, so it’s best to know where you two stand beforehand. The good news is, this can look many different ways for couples. Kendra says, “You two don’t necessarily have to have a joint or separate account, but a mix of both.” Kendra continues, “Maybe having a shared account for home expenses and then your separate accounts. Remember, you don’t need to do anything you’re not comfortable with.”
What are your thoughts on life insurance?
Even if you are dating in your 20’s or 30’s you still want to ask this question. Kendra states, “The question of retirement shows what their thoughts are on planning for the future. This question isn’t about if they have it, just what they think about it.” Kendra mentions there is no right or wrong way to answer or ask this question. If you’re having trouble, Kendra feels showing an example can help, “Tell your partner a story of someone you know who didn’t have life insurance and pass on. Share how that impacted their family and loved ones.”
How do you feel about debt?
Debt can be a very emotional subject for most people. You don’t have to ask how much debt they have, just how they feel about it. Kendra points out, “This question can help you see where their mind is at when it comes to debt. They can either prefer not to have any debt at all or prefer to leverage their debt by investing.” This is also an excellent time to see how you feel about their response to debt. Would it make you comfortable if you two were married and they wanted to invest in a $50,000 home and flip it? Or is credit vital to you, and having a partner who prefers paying everything in cash is worrisome? This doesn’t mean you’re judging them, but knowing your feelings towards debt is just as important.
What does retirement look like for you?
“We live in a world where people don’t want to wait until they’re 60 to retire. Some people want to leave corporate life when they’re in their 30’s, 40’s, or younger.” She continues, “This is about what retirement looks like to the individual. What are their goals? Does it look like they are quitting their corporate job early and freelancing or working into their 60’s and going into a formal retirement? Get a sense of how they see themselves living life in the future.”
“Retirement back in the day looked different for our parents than it does for us today. Most of our parents saved up to retire at the magical age of 64. However, that may not be the life you or your partner wants for themselves. Times have changed and everyone’s retirement plan looks different.”
Do you know your credit score, and when was the last time you pulled it?
“Your credit score is so important,” says Kendra. “Again, you’re not asking what their credit score is. However, it may come up in conversation. In this question, you’re just looking to see if they are aware of it and are they looking to improve it.”
It’s easy to get caught up on how much the person makes, spends, saves, etc. No matter how much your partner makes, they can only get so far if they don’t have good credit. If they happen to have bad credit and are working toward improving it, this is a huge plus. Working towards better credit shows that they care about the quality of their credit enough to build it. This can also be when you can share any tips that may help them during this process.
What kind of money habits did your parents have growing up?
Seeing the way our parents handled money growing up can impact us into adulthood. Growing up, my father was the breadwinner and managed the finances. When my parents divorced, I saw how much my mother was impacted, having not managed finances in decades. Now in my adulthood, I look at financial literacy as a skill that must be practiced. I even find myself becoming uncomfortable at times when my partner wants to contribute to anything. I know this stems from my childhood.
Kendra says, “This conversation is based on family and how you would like things to be for your future family. As you get deeper in your relationship and plan for the future, you want to see what that financial family dynamic will look like. This time can also let you into any childhood trauma that has impacted our surrounding finances. Overall, this is a conversation of healing and moving forward on what’s best for you two as you start a family together.”