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For many women, money is a source of stress. On average, women are paid just 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. That means that after working for 40 years, the average American woman can expect to lose more than $400,000 over her lifetime to the wage gap. And that’s even before taking into account disparities in spending power due to factors like education level and career path (it costs more to be educated). The bottom line? Women continue to face systematic challenges when it comes to dealing with their finances—both big and small.

That makes talking about money critically important for any couple who wants their marriage or partnership to succeed. Money isn’t everything—but it’s an essential factor in whether things get off on the right foot (or not). To that end, our favorite part of wedding planning is helping couples figure out how to start this all-important conversation.

13 Questions you need to ask your partner before getting married…

1) What’s your number one priority in terms of money? Is there a certain apartment, vacation or car you’ve always dreamed of owning? Or do you see money as secondary and prefer to put it towards experiences like travel and spending time with family and friends?

2) What about your partner’s top financial priority? Do those match up? How does this impact where you want to live down the line or how much each of you can spend without guilt?

3) What are your debt levels like? Do you have credit card balances or student loans that you plan on paying off over time? What about savings accounts (including retirement funds)? Will one of you be bringing debt into the relationship?

4) What are your spending habits like right now? Do you take time to consider each purchase before making it (i.e., do you take the time to comparison shop)? Or do purchases tend to happen automatically (you go online shopping without giving any thought as to how much money is in your account)?

5) How will you split up household expenses once married? Will one person handle rent, utilities, cable and internet while the other takes care of food costs for the week? Or are you planning on splitting things 50-50?

6) How do you feel about debt overall? Do you see it as a necessary part of owning certain things (a car, for example)? Or do you avoid debt whenever possible and only spend money when cash is available to pay for it?

7) What are your spending triggers ? Is there an item or activity that causes one of you to spend more than the other would like?

8) How will each of you prioritize saving for retirement down the line? Will both of your contributions be split between various accounts—or just one person’s savings be used to cover all expenses in retirement?

9) What are your personal goals ? Are there areas partner support might help you reach them (finishing a degree or starting a business, for example)?

10) What does financial security mean to you? Dollars and cents aside–what does it mean for your partner to be financially secure? Are they someone who has the freedom to make spending decisions without consulting their spouse first? Or is that person more cautious about their money and might need input before making certain purchases (like new cars or home renovations)?

11) How will you handle things if one of you wants to buy something expensive—or needs help with an unexpected expense like medical bills—and the other isn’t in the same position as them financially ?

12) Do you have any problems related to personal finance right now (e.g., difficulty making rent on time, trouble setting aside money for savings)? What are your plans to correct them in the near future?

13) How do you feel about sharing finances with your partner? Would it help if you opened up a joint bank account together—or would that be too much paper trail in terms of where your money is going? Would you prefer to keep things separate and just put money into a shared checking account for household expenses?

How to start talking about money with “The One”

Since money is often considered a taboo topic, it’s not always easy to jump right in.  

Here are some tips on how to start learning about money no matter which stage of your relationship you’re in.

If you’ve just started dating 

My first recommendation would be to do what you can to get on the same page financially.  Whether that means doing a free financial check up together or opening a joint bank account, make sure there are some basic agreements in place before getting too serious.

If you want to learn more around personal finance but don’t know where to start, finding online resources is an easy way to accomplish this goal along with your partner!   Sites like Get Rich Slowly , Magnify Money and LearnVest all offer great ideas for topics ranging from budgeting 101  to investing for beginners .

Since it’s easy for one partner to take over the conversation, try not to dominate the discussion. Instead, research together and ask questions as they come up!

Once you’ve been dating for a few months 

You may feel like you already know your partner pretty well, but this is an important time to bring up money conversations.  

If they’re hesitant about opening up at first, tell them you’d love to learn more about budgeting or credit cards so that personal finance can become a shared interest instead of something only one person cares about.

Keeping each other accountable and learning together is an important part of staying motivated around finances – and hopefully will help build trust along the way!

After all, you’ll be sharing a bank account and leaning on each other financially for years to come.

If you’re engaged 

Congratulations on your engagement!  

Exchanging vows and rings is the first official step towards becoming Mr. and Mrs. but then comes the dreaded money talk right after that .  This is actually one of the most important conversations couples will have , especially if they haven’t had much experience with money yet as individuals.

There are three steps you can take together as a couple: Look over your finances as a whole (debt, savings accounts, etc) Start an emergency fund Put together a 3 – 6 month plan in case of job loss or medical emergencies These talks don’t always happen overnight but letting your partner know what’s going on is the first step towards building a successful financial future.  And remember, it’s okay to ask for help! A good starting point might be to review your credit report  and discuss what changes you’d both like to see in your lives.

Don’t wait until you’re married 

If this conversation is already overdue with your partner, don’t give up hope just yet!  You can still make sure that money becomes a shared interest by finding some free or low-cost resources together.   A great place to start would be taking advantage of your local library – check out books on personal finance , read articles online and try out websites like Money Management if you feel comfortable with it.

Finding something that works for both of you and sticking to it is an important step in getting on the same page with your partner.  And who knows, maybe you’ll even become a money-savvy couple as a result!

Personal finance isn’t easy but it can be more than just daunting – as long as you continue learning together as a team, you’ll both reap the benefits of your hard work.  

“What if my partner doesn’t want to talk about money?” You may have friends or family members that don’t care about financial topics at all, and that’s okay.  You can still make sure your future is financially secure by taking charge of your own finances first , no matter what your significant other decides to do along the way.

 There are lots of easy ways to start learning about personal finance, so make sure you take the time to educate yourself.

 Number 1 rule: don’t shut down the discussion just because your partner isn’t interested right away – be patient and understanding while you try to learn more about their wants and needs around money.  A big part of being engaged is communicating openly with one another, but that doesn’t have to mean talking about everything all at once!

What are prenups?

Prenups  are a legal contract between two people who plan on getting married that says what will happen to their finances in case of divorce.

That’s right – it’s essentially a commitment you make to yourself and your partner that you have nothing to hide, physically or financially speaking.

While the idea might be daunting at first, prenups tend to become more popular as couples get older since they’re less worried about being “tied down” by marriage.

The good news is that you can learn all about them online without having to spend too much time or money!  Just know that once you start thinking about signing one, it means your relationship with your significant other means something serious already .

So how do you get started?

Make sure you know all the costs that come with drawing up a prenup , and what’s included in their legal terms.  Take some time to think about why you’re signing it in the first place, then discuss if there are any financial concerns that could be resolved through this agreement.   

In most cases, the only way a prenup will affect your relationship is if everything goes wrong.  So when in doubt, just trust your partner – odds are good they have your best interests at heart!

What should I do if my fiance wants a prenup?

Don’t panic!  Even though it might be surprising at first, this actually says a lot more about how serious you and your fiance are about your future.  It means that you’re both willing to be open and honest with each other, which is a very positive sign for the future of your relationship.

That being said, it’s also important to take time to learn more about what a prenup says , as well as how it will affect your specific situation financially.  Remember: it’s there so you can protect yourself without jeopardizing your partner’s interest!

What does this mean for my financial future?

The truth is… it actually doesn’t mean much at all!  No matter what you’ve heard, prenups don’t necessarily prevent divorce or guarantee that one person will keep all their finances intact in case of a break-up.

And even if your relationship doesn’t stand the test of time, remember that prenups make no promises about getting married in the first place .  So even though it may feel like you’re walking on eggshells around money, know that everything’s going to be okay.

What can I do to be financially secure?

Being engaged is a big step!  It means that you already care enough about one another to research how financial commitment affects both people involved.  And while some couples are fine with keeping their future earnings separate , others would rather put everything together under one roof.

Regardless of your partner’s belief system, what matters more than anything else is figuring out what makes sense for you.  Don’t be afraid to do your own research , and don’t be discouraged if they’re not ready to talk about it just yet.

Truthfully, the only way you’re going to feel secure in your relationship is by being open with one another while also having your own back – no matter what!   

 Rule: try not to blame yourself if things go south

Being engaged means that you trust one another enough to handle both parties’ personal finances without any issues… right?  

Well, sometimes it doesn’t always work out so smoothly. If your partner isn’t making an active effort towards learning more about how money works or why you want someone to help, then it might be time for a chat .

What are postnups?

Postnups are legal documents that happen after marriage, and are sometimes known as “prenups without the ring.”  They’re also becoming more common in today’s society because of divorce rates – if you think your relationship might have a future where one person is always going to be racking up debt, it can’t hurt to consider having them sign on the dotted line.

Don’t you want to protect yourself?

Some people do!  But postnups aren’t for everyone, either. If you’re not comfortable signing away certain rights or responsibilities just yet, then maybe it’s best not to rush into anything .   

Truthfully, there’s no better way of protecting yourself financially than learning how to manage your money the right way.  The less you rely on someone else to pay your rent or manage your daily expenses, the better off you’ll be in the long run .

What do I need to know?

Remember: a postnup is going to affect how much money goes into savings at the end of every month more than it will affect a regular budget.  And if they’re not willing to compromise on what they want for their future, then there’s really no point in signing either of these documents – prenup or postnup.   

At the end of the day, all relationships depend on mutual respect and understanding as well as an open line of communication between two people. If it’s hard to talk about money, then there’s no way that you’re going to be able to talk about anything else!  It all starts and ends with trust , so don’t be afraid of putting your cards on the table.

What types of things do we need to discuss?

By now, you probably realize how important it is to establish a healthy financial foundation before walking down the aisle with someone .  Otherwise, you might miss out on some really great opportunities for growth as a couple.

You’ll want to know each other’s views on debt, budgeting and investing money in order to create a successful future together. Without this information at hand , there’s no way of knowing if one person will end up holding more power than the other in the relationship or whether or not you’ll be able to make important financial decisions with one another.

What if we don’t agree?  Or, What if they can’t talk about money with me?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of talking about money when your partner isn’t ready to have that same conversation  – just remember that it’s not going to happen overnight .

Many couples spend several years being engaged before they’re finally ready to get married, so there might even be a silver lining in all of these conversations !  After all, you’ll learn a lot more about each other through your differences than you will from making assumptions.   

At the very least, this allows both parties time to decide if they’re truly ready to get married.  Money is a big part of any joint future, so it’s important that you know your partner’s spending habits before becoming financially intertwined.

In the end, there are no set answers as to what might happen during and after marriage – but with open and honest communication, it’ll be much easier for both you and your groom (or bride) to make the right financial decisions for yourselves.

Bottom line

Talking about money with your partner is very scary if you’ve never done it before. However, you need to protect yourself and your financial future. This does not mean you don’t love your partner, you are just watching out for yourself first!   

They say that money is the number one cause of divorce and if your assets are not protected, you will be in a very vulnerable position if there comes a time when you cannot trust your partner. So by protecting yourself sooner, you can get rid of that fear or problem before it even starts!   You need to get on the same page with your future spouse by talking about important topics, such as budgeting, long term goals and family expectations.   

If they don’t see these things eye-to-eye with you, then maybe they aren’t ready to sign a prenup or postnup.  Maybe their future isn’t secure enough for them either financially or emotionally, which means it’s best to cut ties before it gets to that point – you just saved yourself a lot of heartache!

Some people might think they’re being selfish by protecting themselves in this way, but if your partner can’t do the same, then it’s no good.  You have every right to protect yourself and your future, so don’t apologize for wanting to make sure all your financial bases are covered from the start.  

Just remember: when you know better , you do better .  Now get out there and build a brighter financial future for yourself !

Are you scared to speak about money with your partner? Connect with a financial planner that can guide this conversation with you:

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