Are you financially sound? What about your significant other?
These are important questions to consider. If you are entering into a relationship with someone, it’s crucial to have a conversation—or several conversations—about how each of you deals with money and finances.
Don’t think that anyone, male or female, will rescue you. Nor should you expect that just because a person loves you or appears to be doing well that his or her bank account is healthy.
Extreme shopping habits have been the ruin of countless partnerships, and yours will be no exception if you aren’t strategically planning for success. Also, people can be at different income levels, so don’t assume that you or your partner will enter in or maintain a 50/50 split of contributions. It almost never works that way.
Your personal habits and what you value are at the core of who you are and how you operate. If your past has not been favorable in money matters, make some new choices and get some new skills.
I have made some poor financial choices in my life, especially in regard to relationships. Some of my biggest decisions were based on what I thought we would do together. Unfortunately, some people just don’t care, and they will not change because attitudes about money are usually deeply rooted. Especially as you get older, it’s hard to overcome the realities of money problems, and that can limit your choice of mates. Nobody wants to be “brought down” by somebody else’s bad credit or lack of stability.
And some people have a sense of entitlement, so watch that too! As one friend says: “Remember, inspect what you expect and be willing to look at self.”
Here are some questions to ask yourself as well as your significant other regarding finances.
- What do you do with your money?
- How well do you save money?
- How well do you spend money?
- How well do you invest money?
- Do you typically pay bills on time or are you frequently late?
- What is your income-to-debt ratio?
- Do you have a retirement plan?
- What is your credit score?
- How do you feel about renting versus home ownership?
- What is your opinion about how bills and household expenses should be divided?
- How do you feel about shared and joint banking accounts?
Discussing these questions will be a good start to finding out if you are fiscally compatible.
Once you get to a certain stage in life, you probably have had some money problems, setbacks or challenges. It is true that money problems are one of the quickest ways to deteriorate a relationship. It’s not just about the money you have in the bank, it’s also about what you do with what you have and how much you are willing to work to get what you really want.
Designing a mutually agreeable financial plan—and sticking to it—is extremely important for you in your relationship and marriage. If you have had problems in the past, use them as stepping-stones to make better choices in the future. And even if someone has taken advantage of you before, don’t let that stop you from being with the one you love. Just be committed to good stewardship and creating whatever checks and balances you both need to keep everything honest, fair and in place.
Jo Lena Johnson is a life, communications and relationships coach. This is excerpted from her latest book, Strategic Planning for Love & War, Relationships and Adult Conversations, by Jo Lena Johnson, Steven Charles Martin and Kevin B. Fleming. Her website is StrategicPlanningforLoveandWar.com