You met a new love and you think this could be it. This could be forever. As slow jams start playing in your head and a daydream begins, you’re awakened by the stark reality: It’s time to have the talk—the money talk. Whether you’re engaged, in a long-term relationship, or just beginning to get serious and hoping to head down aisle, the discussion you have about money is one of the most important talks you’ll have. The best time to have the money talk is well before you get married. Here are six money management questions you should ask a love interest before committing to a serious relationship:
How do you feel about money? Some people think money makes them powerful so they try to make as much as they can to win the approval of others; some hate money and try to live a minimalist lifestyle, and some see money as a means to an end– it’s purpose is to get things they need like food, shelter, and clothing. The answer to this question will likely reveal or explain one’s spending habits.
Do you have an emergency savings account? If not, find out why. Was it because of a job loss or does this person not save at all? It it’s the latter, head for the door.
What lessons did you learn about money from your parents? Lessons learned during childhood shape our views of money as we mature into adults. Habits picked up from parents–whether good or bad–are hard to break. Getting this question answered will help you understand why your honey manages money (or doesn’t manage money) a certain away.
How’s your credit? Don’t just accept “Good,” or “It’s alright,” or “I’m maintaining” as an answer. Get details. Does he or she have any recent bankruptcies or charge offs? Why? What were the circumstances surrounding the event? Is he or she working to improve credit flaws?
How do you think a couple should manage household finances? Waiting to learn the answer to this question after the wedding will lead to a world of misery. Know your future spouse’s view on this. Will you have a traditional household where the husband handles all the bills or will this be a shared effort where both the husband and wife balance the check book, pay the bills, and monitor the household budget?
Do you prefer one joint account, separate accounts, or a combination of the two? This simple question, depending on the answer, could result in a heated debate. Identify what you each believe and what will work for you if you decide to merge finances.
The saying “actions speak louder than words,” holds true. If your lady complains she’s broke but carries high-end bags and has a closet-full of pricey shoes that you know she didn’t purchase at a sample sale, it’s time to think about whether you can deal with someone who is irresponsible with money. Or if your guy is constantly hitting you up for a loan, you need to decide whether you can trust him to be the head of your household. Think about it.
Sheiresa Ngo is the consumer affairs editor at Black Enterprise.