Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
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megabad
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Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by megabad »

What financially based questions should you ask a potential future spouse (or life partner) before becoming engaged? What questions did you ask or do you wish you’d asked?

Particularly curious for divorcees (upon remarriage), but just all around curious based on some recent threads.

Thanks.

Hopefully I get a few good answers because I will probably use them.
mak1277
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by mak1277 »

I think observing the person's behavior is going to be a lot more valuable than just firing off questions, but that's just me. I would say, if you have any non-standard or very specific expectations about life (e.g., you want to FIRE at age 35 or you know you want one parent to stay at home with kids) then those are things to discuss ahead of time.
runner3081
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by runner3081 »

Credit checks on both of us, shared.
muddlehead
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by muddlehead »

Obviously, "How much debt do you have at this moment?"
Closely observe, the best you can, spending habits. Does he/she appear to be spoiled - for lack of a better word?
I got really, really lucky to find a gal who is not at all a big spender. A major factor in us being able to retire nice and young.
Tdubs
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Tdubs »

Duplicate
Last edited by Tdubs on Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Tdubs
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Tdubs »

mak1277 wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:01 pm I think observing the person's behavior is going to be a lot more valuable than just firing off questions, but that's just me. I would say, if you have any non-standard or very specific expectations about life (e.g., you want to FIRE at age 35 or you know you want one parent to stay at home with kids) then those are things to discuss ahead of time.
Tend to agree that you should observe early on, ask questions later when you are much deeper into the relationship. The kinds of issues that concern BHers would just make you seem money-obsessed when "interviewing" someone you know two months.

That said, it was nice to discover that while my spouse came from a more affluent family, we were on the same page when it came to spending. When one of us was out of work there was no debate about what needed to be done or keeping up with the Joneses. We both hated loans and credit-card debt, did lots of shopping at yard sales and Goodwill and other belt-tightening. We had no fights over our checking balance. So, seeing eye-to-eye on household spending, more than investment philosophy or FIRE, makes for an easy marriage. That's what I'd want to know about: When life gets hard, how will they react?
123
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by 123 »

There are some somewhat easy ways to get some perspective. One is to casually ask about accounts. People will respond in one of two ways. They will either think you're asking about debts (because that's all they have) or they will talk about assets (bank/brokerage/401k accounts). Which way they respond tells you about what is most significant to them.

Another area is to talk generally about taxes. Do they do their own returns, use a standard service like H&R Block, or do they use an accountant? Bonus points to them if they talk about estimated taxes since, for most people, they're an indicator of higher income/assets.
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SmileyFace
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by SmileyFace »

Other questions that don't seem financial on the outset but will impact financial well-being/lifestyle are equally important to the obvious ones of debt/holdings/spending-habits. Ones like:
How many kids are planned? Will a parent stay home to raise them?
Dogs? Vision for vacations/spending? Hobbies?
How large of a house do you want?
Do you believe in funding children's college?

Need good alignment (or have a plan to work out differences) on all these to assure success.
DSBH
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by DSBH »

megabad wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 3:53 pm What financially based questions should you ask a potential future spouse (or life partner) before becoming engaged? What questions did you ask or do you wish you’d asked?

Particularly curious for divorcees (upon remarriage), but just all around curious based on some recent threads.

Thanks.

Hopefully I get a few good answers because I will probably use them.
"How would we build out financial life together" - e.g. budget for first month, first year, before children, after children, how to make decision about major purchase (e.g. new car), optional spending such as vacation, longer term goals such as retirement - etc. to start with, and deeper dive afterwards.
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lthenderson
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by lthenderson »

All my questions were answered by just getting to know her while dating. I found we had similar material tastes and spending habits. I never asked these things in an interview format or really even directly. I just observed or they came up casually through conversation.

I'm going to recommend to my children that their prospective spouses should have similar material tastes and spending habits too.
oldfort
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by oldfort »

It depends. If one person is a lot richer coming into the marriage, a prenup may be advisable.
averagedude
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by averagedude »

runner3081 wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:05 pm Credit checks on both of us, shared.
Agree. This will give each of you a good idea about the other's finances as it pertains to borrowing. If someone is trying to hide something negative, it will most likely show up here.
aristotelian
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by aristotelian »

SmileyFace wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:34 pm Other questions that don't seem financial on the outset but will impact financial well-being/lifestyle are equally important to the obvious ones of debt/holdings/spending-habits. Ones like:
How many kids are planned? Will a parent stay home to raise them?
Dogs? Vision for vacations/spending? Hobbies?
How large of a house do you want?
Do you believe in funding children's college?

Need good alignment (or have a plan to work out differences) on all these to assure success.
+1. Alignment in goals and lifestyle is going to have way more impact in the success of the marriage (financial and otherwise) than a bad credit score or negative premarital net worth. Don't miss the forest through the trees. If you are on the same page in the big picture, you can work out the details. And if your big picture goals are in conflict, spotless credit or experience doing taxes is not going to make up for it.
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by aristotelian »

averagedude wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:53 pm
runner3081 wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:05 pm Credit checks on both of us, shared.
Agree. This will give each of you a good idea about the other's finances as it pertains to borrowing. If someone is trying to hide something negative, it will most likely show up here.
Is that really necessary though? Why not just ask?
mptfan
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by mptfan »

lthenderson wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:37 pm I'm going to recommend to my children that their prospective spouses should have similar material tastes and spending habits too.
Children love it when their parents tell them who they are allowed to date.
:shock:
delamer
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by delamer »

It’shelpful to find out howthe prospective spouse’s birth family handled money and whether his/her parents butted heads about finances a lot.
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megabad
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by megabad »

Thanks folks. All good things to think about.
mak1277 wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:01 pm I think observing the person's behavior is going to be a lot more valuable than just firing off questions, but that's just me.
I probably agree, but I do think some folks can hide things (intentionally or unintentionally).

runner3081 wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:05 pm Credit checks on both of us, shared.
Do you mean simply showing the credit reports? Or maybe looking at Credit Karma at the numerical score?
Tdubs wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:25 pm Tend to agree that you should observe early on, ask questions later when you are much deeper into the relationship. The kinds of issues that concern BHers would just make you seem money-obsessed when "interviewing" someone you know two months.
I didn't want to put too many qualifiers on this but it was my intent that these "questions" come up in an imminent union situation. I agree that bringing up too early would be strange (though I am sure some do).
SmileyFace wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:34 pm Other questions that don't seem financial on the outset but will impact financial well-being/lifestyle are equally important to the obvious ones of debt/holdings/spending-habits.

Need good alignment (or have a plan to work out differences) on all these to assure success.
Glad you pointed this out. I agree and I think "financially based questions" can be broadly interpreted.
DSBH wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:36 pm "How would we build out financial life together" - e.g. budget for first month, first year, before children, after children, how to make decision about major purchase (e.g. new car), optional spending such as vacation, longer term goals such as retirement - etc. to start with, and deeper dive afterwards.
Before engagement, would you discuss specifics of the budget or just the approach?
lthenderson wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:37 pm All my questions were answered by just getting to know her while dating.
It seems that many folks aren't able to do this or ignore issues. Did you two do anything in particular that allowed you to get to know each other more deeply in a financial sense?
delamer wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:00 pm It’shelpful to find out howthe prospective spouse’s birth family handled money and whether his/her parents butted heads about finances a lot.
This is interesting. I've seen some people that have had negative experiences with money as children and it seems to make them a little more careful with money later on, but I have seen the opposite as well.
Samosa22
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Samosa22 »

Tdubs wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:23 pmDuplicate
This one would be hilarious to ask. :wink:
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bluebolt
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by bluebolt »

There's one criteria that I think is more important than any others:
Do you both have an attitude that whatever happens, you'll get through it together?
Because life happens, things change, and things don't turn out as you expect (for the worse and for the better).

From a financial perspective, the most important thing is that you come to a common understanding on your goals, saving, and spending.
Within that it's an exercise in prioritization. Pay yourselves first. Make a budget. Even if it's not fine grained categories, it's helpful at the level of: savings, necessities (housing/utilities/taxes/insurance/transportation/food/clothing, etc.), nice-to-haves, and discretionary.
Katietsu
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Katietsu »

I really would hope that two people have had enough shared experiences by the time an engagement is imminent that you would have a good idea about how your partner approached money. I mean I would have had conversations about whether they paid off their credit card or had loaned family money before I got to the point of marriage just because that is part of an intimate relationship.. But if not, there are two questions.

The biggest question, even more so on remarriage, is whether or not you will keep your finances separate. And if you do maintain separate finances, how will you split joint expenses.

Also, I would not stop a marriage because of someone’s past financial mistakes if they are committed to correcting course.
Last edited by Katietsu on Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
BigMoneyNoWhammies
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by BigMoneyNoWhammies »

mak1277 wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:01 pm I think observing the person's behavior is going to be a lot more valuable than just firing off questions, but that's just me. I would say, if you have any non-standard or very specific expectations about life (e.g., you want to FIRE at age 35 or you know you want one parent to stay at home with kids) then those are things to discuss ahead of time.
This. Someone's behavior tends to be a good indicator of their financial well being (though not always), and I second that long term life priorities, financial or otherwise, should 100% be brought up prior to legally and financially binding yourself to another person. These priorities can be deal breakers relationship wise; it's good to discuss them beforehand. I can't imagine a couple having a particularly happy marriage if one party is an extremely frugal super saver who is trying to FIRE and the other wants to spend freely but work until they're 70 as a result, especially if they went into the marriage not having realized or discussed the disparity. The disparity would bleed over into too many other aspects of life.
Cruise
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Cruise »

OP: Seeing is believing. What people do is way more telling than what they say.

Is she one that over-values appearances? Lots of jewelry, fine clothes on all occasions, heavy makeup all the time, drives luxury car, wears luxury watch?

What does she own? Latest cell phone model? How old is her car? Last time she upgraded her TV?

What does she order at the restaurant? Price point of wine and food?

Where does she live? Upscale vs modest neighborhood? Perfectly groomed lawn? Does she do her own chores?

Who are her friends? Down-to-earth or pretentious?

Personally, I went with a woman who looked equally comfortable in high heels and hiking boots.
livesoft
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by livesoft »

Do you have any financial questions that you want to ask me? How about any non-financial questions?
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

lthenderson wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:37 pm All my questions were answered by just getting to know her while dating. I found we had similar material tastes and spending habits. I never asked these things in an interview format or really even directly. I just observed or they came up casually through conversation.

I'm going to recommend to my children that their prospective spouses should have similar material tastes and spending habits too.
Precisely. If you operate on a beer budget and your significant other has champagne tastes then there will be a disconnect and future angst. Observe, observe, observe.
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

livesoft wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:46 pm Do you have any financial questions that you want to ask me? How about any non-financial questions?
How much do you make a year? Do you have a bank account with actual money in it? :P
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Mlm »

Watch what they do, not what they say. People rarely change.
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by TheDDC »

Strictly financial: Debt, medical expenses, financial goals, views on outsourcing of parenting (financial/family).

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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by DSBH »

megabad wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:06 pm
DSBH wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:36 pm "How would we build out financial life together" - e.g. budget for first month, first year, before children, after children, how to make decision about major purchase (e.g. new car), optional spending such as vacation, longer term goals such as retirement - etc. to start with, and deeper dive afterwards.
Before engagement, would you discuss specifics of the budget or just the approach?
Just the approach first to get a feeler about the other person’s inclination - frugal/responsible or big spender, type A control or open to mutual agreement, likeliness to keep up with the Jones or not, investor or gambler type etc. Important thing is to set mutual expectations as much as possible prior to commitment financially speaking, without killing the romance.
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by PoundCake »

The specific questions are almost irrelevant. As with any projective test, it's the answers that are important, as well as the other person's willingness to engage in the conversation. And different answers will resonate differently with different listeners.

E.g., "Do you envision us combining expenses after we get married?"

-- No, because I don't want you to know how I spend my money.
-- No, because I want to make sure things are neat and clean if we get divorced.
-- No, I don't, but I also want to make sure we're both comfortable with that.
-- No, because I make more than you and I don't think I should have to share my money.
-- No, not if it means that we have to have these conversations all the time.
-- Money again? You never stop.
-- I don't care about money.
-- Why are we talking about this? We'll sort it out after the wedding.
-- I'm so glad you raised this; I really want us to work together on a plan.
-- I just assumed we would combine expenses. Are we done yet?
-- Yes, and since you have a higher salary, I can't wait until we get a joint account.
-- Yes, because that's what my parents did.
-- Yes, but I would still like to keep some separation because it helps me to feel independent.

I wasn't smart enough to ask these questions when I got married, but my spouse was. And I learned a lot from my spouse's desire and willingness to raise these issues -- more than the specific answers. Still married, 400 years later.
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by avginvestor »

How big is your life insurance policy? :)
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celia
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by celia »

123 wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:30 pm There are some somewhat easy ways to get some perspective. One is to casually ask about accounts. People will respond in one of two ways. They will either think you're asking about debts (because that's all they have) or they will talk about assets (bank/brokerage/401k accounts). Which way they respond tells you about what is most significant to them.

Another area is to talk generally about taxes. Do they do their own returns, use a standard service like H&R Block, or do they use an accountant? Bonus points to them if they talk about estimated taxes since, for most people, they're an indicator of higher income/assets.
How sneaky and indirect! We were both broke college students without loans in the good ole' days so we never had to worry about this.

Along this indirect line, you could ask if they have retirement plans yet (and what their expected retirement age would be) and what kinds of things they plan to do in retirement. Are they saving up for retirement? Does their employer have a retirement plan and what do they like/not like about it? And as long as you are talking about employers, what benefits do they take advantage of and which benefits do they not use? (Hey, open enrollment is about here for many companies and there may be decisions to be made.)

What kinds of work their relatives do may give some insight into family educational level and their expectation for their future kids.

After you are formally engaged, you both should share credit reports and tax returns. Bonus points if they prepare their own!
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megabad
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by megabad »

Cruise wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:34 pm OP: Seeing is believing. What people do is way more telling than what they say.

Is she one that over-values appearances? Lots of jewelry, fine clothes on all occasions, heavy makeup all the time, drives luxury car, wears luxury watch?

What does she own? Latest cell phone model? How old is her car? Last time she upgraded her TV?

What does she order at the restaurant? Price point of wine and food?

Where does she live? Upscale vs modest neighborhood? Perfectly groomed lawn? Does she do her own chores?
This is interesting, I find some of these to be appearance related and hard for me to judge (ie. "heavy makeup" and "fine clothes). Maybe I am just uncultured with these things. I think I am misjudged rather frequently based on my appearance so I try not to transfer that on to other people, but I can understand why it is logical to try to draw conclusions from these things.
livesoft wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:46 pm Do you have any financial questions that you want to ask me? How about any non-financial questions?
This one is my favorite so far. Not kidding.
PoundCake wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:58 pm ...as well as the other person's willingness to engage in the conversation...
This is an interesting point. I would say there are a few things that I am not willing to engage in the conversation on prior to engagement/marriage/union if I am honest. But none of these things are general philosophies around finances, just specifics. It makes me wonder how this would come off though.
avginvestor wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 8:27 pm How big is your life insurance policy? :)
Lol. I assume that is a joke but that would be a question that would probably scare me prior to a marriage. Of course, prior to marriage said person would likely not be the beneficiary anyway.
celia wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 8:36 pm We were both broke college students without loans in the good ole' days so we never had to worry about this.
Just out of curiosity, does this mean if you were both in vastly different financial situations, would it change your approach?
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celia
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by celia »

megabad wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 9:00 pm
celia wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 8:36 pm We were both broke college students without loans in the good ole' days so we never had to worry about this.
Just out of curiosity, does this mean if you were both in vastly different financial situations, would it change your approach?
The above topics would never have occurred to us since we were both just graduating from college and he was about to be drafted. We were otherwise more concerned about looking for our first full-time jobs. Since your question doesn't apply to me, I'm not able to answer.
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by obafgkm »

Cruise wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:34 pm OP: Seeing is believing. What people do is way more telling than what they say.

Is she one that over-values appearances? Lots of jewelry, fine clothes on all occasions, heavy makeup all the time, drives luxury car, wears luxury watch?

What does she own? Latest cell phone model? How old is her car? Last time she upgraded her TV?

What does she order at the restaurant? Price point of wine and food?

Where does she live? Upscale vs modest neighborhood? Perfectly groomed lawn? Does she do her own chores?

Who are her friends? Down-to-earth or pretentious?

Personally, I went with a woman who looked equally comfortable in high heels and hiking boots.
These are all applicable to men, too (yes, even the high heels and hiking boots :P ), although as a guy I can't imagine anybody being comfortable in high heels.

Are there any gender-specific questions to ask? Even "do you want to have children" isn't, really...
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by SevenBridgesRoad »

I’ll need to put this in terms of a retrospective study, whatever that is worth. My wife and I have been married 42 years (first and only marriage) and still going strong. We got married right after college graduation, after dating three years. We were just pups, barely 21 years old.

Can we tease out what we did right? Lots of potential bias here.

This I know: We didn’t ask each other, before we got married, any financial questions.

We did discuss the children question and career questions, and were on the same page.

But otherwise, we could see this:

We both came from middle class homes. We met at state university. Our families did NOT pay for college. We both worked. She had an old used car she paid for herself, and I couldn’t justify the expense of a car (rode a bicycle). We both had strong career goals. We both went to class and made good grades. We both enjoyed sports, my (future) wife at college scholarship level. We enjoyed parties, but it wasn’t our main thing. So, we shared many values and interests; and knew this by actual day to day experiences.

Now, with the benefit of an amazing lifetime, in complete retrospect, I believe our success was this: we avoided marrying someone with a personality disorder. Here’s a review:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-con ... c-20354463

If you can avoid an individual with even a mild version of this disorder, which is extremely common, you will be able to work through the inevitable problems together.
Last edited by SevenBridgesRoad on Wed Oct 28, 2020 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Shackleton
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Shackleton »

delamer wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:00 pm It’shelpful to find out howthe prospective spouse’s birth family handled money and whether his/her parents butted heads about finances a lot.
Why would my birth parents matter to my spouse? They gave me up for adoption when I was an infant. Perhaps you just mean “family”?
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Cruise
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Cruise »

Shackleton wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 10:37 pm
delamer wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:00 pm It’shelpful to find out howthe prospective spouse’s birth family handled money and whether his/her parents butted heads about finances a lot.
Why would my birth parents matter to my spouse? They gave me up for adoption when I was an infant. Perhaps you just mean “family”?
Genetics. Maybe even related to above post regarding psychological/psychiatric disorders.
Cruise
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Cruise »

megabad wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 9:00 pm
Cruise wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:34 pm OP: Seeing is believing. What people do is way more telling than what they say.

Is she one that over-values appearances? Lots of jewelry, fine clothes on all occasions, heavy makeup all the time, drives luxury car, wears luxury watch?

What does she own? Latest cell phone model? How old is her car? Last time she upgraded her TV?

What does she order at the restaurant? Price point of wine and food?

Where does she live? Upscale vs modest neighborhood? Perfectly groomed lawn? Does she do her own chores?
This is interesting, I find some of these to be appearance related and hard for me to judge (ie. "heavy makeup" and "fine clothes). Maybe I am just uncultured with these things. I think I am misjudged rather frequently based on my appearance so I try not to transfer that on to other people, but I can understand why it is logical to try to draw conclusions from these things.
The list was more about behavior and what people value, rather than appearance (although it may appear that way).
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

:arrow:
aristotelian wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 5:21 pm
averagedude wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:53 pm
runner3081 wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:05 pm Credit checks on both of us, shared.
Agree. This will give each of you a good idea about the other's finances as it pertains to borrowing. If someone is trying to hide something negative, it will most likely show up here.
Is that really necessary though? Why not just ask?
Criminal background checks including employment history???
neverpanic
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by neverpanic »

The questions are different in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50+. But maybe they shouldn't be?
I am not a financial professional or guru. I'm a schmuck who got lucky 10 times. Such is the life of the trader.
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Nowizard »

Spending habits as reflected by debt and assets. Though many couples cannot totally control their asset base, disagreement about how to spend income regardless of amount is a key factor in arguments and divorce. Concretely, the two issues I would consider most important are: 1. Joint or individual checking accounts, 2. The degree to which investing veto is joint or made by one partner.

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Jags4186
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Jags4186 »

I mean, a lot of this has to do with how old you are and how long your courtship is. If your idea of getting married is dating, getting engaged, and getting married within 12 months you need to have more serious conversations. If you’re like me who dated my wife for 4 years before getting engaged, lived together for two years, then was engaged for 12 months before getting married, you probably will figure out most of this stuff just by living.

If you are older (say in your 40s or 50s and/or going into a second marriage) you likely will be keeping your premarital finances somewhat separate as you already have your stuff together, hopefully.
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by lthenderson »

megabad wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:06 pm
lthenderson wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 4:37 pm All my questions were answered by just getting to know her while dating.
It seems that many folks aren't able to do this or ignore issues. Did you two do anything in particular that allowed you to get to know each other more deeply in a financial sense?
I don't recall anything that I did specifically to get to financially know my soon to be wife other than date her for several years before getting married. This allowed us to see each other in a variety of different settings in which we could monitor each other's financial behavior. After we were engaged and heading towards the wedding, we did talk a bit about merging our checking and savings account into both names, but by then, I had no qualms about whether or not that would create problems.
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by BrklynMike »

A very wise cousin of mine that works in consumer banking is fond of saying "the only thing you need to know about a person is their credit score." There is a lot of truth in that, so I would second earlier comments about sharing credit scores.

In Morgan Housel's new book, the Psychology of Money, he relates the interview questions of some very famous Wall Street person. Apparently, the only thing he asks job candidates is "What do you own and why?"

Other than that, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior with the caveat that young people can change, grow, and develop.
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Cruise wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 11:09 pm
Shackleton wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 10:37 pm
delamer wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 6:00 pm It’shelpful to find out howthe prospective spouse’s birth family handled money and whether his/her parents butted heads about finances a lot.
Why would my birth parents matter to my spouse? They gave me up for adoption when I was an infant. Perhaps you just mean “family”?
Genetics. Maybe even related to above post regarding psychological/psychiatric disorders.
And for those adoptive children who know nearly nothing about their birth parents?

Will you assume they're chronically ill, psychotic serial killers? If you do, do you consider that to be a good thing or a bad thing?
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by Katietsu »

megabad wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 9:00 pm
PoundCake wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:58 pm ...as well as the other person's willingness to engage in the conversation...
This is an interesting point. I would say there are a few things that I am not willing to engage in the conversation on prior to engagement/marriage/union if I am honest. But none of these things are general philosophies around finances, just specifics. It makes me wonder how this would come off though.
This is concerning to me. I think you should be willing to share everything in broad strokes by the time you are ready to propose. I think you should be willing to share specifics by the time of the wedding. If not, I would seriously consider not getting married or using a pre marital counselor.

I would not enter into a legal contract, which is what a marriage is, with someone who was unwilling to provide the relevant information. The exception might be something like a family trust where it could be sufficient to reveal that you receive $X a year which will then go to your kids after your death while stopping short of giving any details of the total value or holdings of the trust.
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by sailaway »

Our financial conversations came in bits and spurts around getting to know each other, rather than preparation for marriage. But then, we were friends before we started dating: we put more thought and discussion into sleeping together than we did into getting married.

-DH eats about twice as much as me. This was a shock when he first started spending lots of time at my house. Not only did leftovers disappear, making meal planning hard, but the amount spent changed drastically. We had to have our first sharing finances conversation while we still both considered him a guest, since I had been putting extra to student loans.

-how are you paying off existing debt? DH encouraged me to stop making extra payments on very low interest debt (which was the only kind we had, even our mortgages were pretty cheap).

-insurance habits and needs. What bells and whistles do you have? DH insists we carry comprehensive on our 11yo Insight. I insist we pay the extra $8 for road side assistance. But we have never had extra life insurance. We just changed the beneficiaries on the work provided insurance from our mothers to each other.

-are there any work place savings opportunities you could take advantage of if we split finances differently? If I had known more about finances back in the day, I would have started saving in a 457, rather than starting my taxable brokerage account. If I had brought it up, DH probably would have been happy to take on more of the shared finances to help me make maximum contributions.

-if there are two households, how do you picture combining them?
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by mptfan »

megabad wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 9:00 pm I would say there are a few things that I am not willing to engage in the conversation on prior to engagement/marriage/union if I am honest. But none of these things are general philosophies around finances, just specifics. It makes me wonder how this would come off though.
For me it would come off badly, I would not be willing to marry someone if they were not willing to engage in conversation about specifics of financial matters. For me it is important to have transparency between spouses/prospective spouses/romantic partners otherwise it would not work.
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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by KlangFool »

Folks,

It is time for a story.

We were dating and out for dinner. My future spouse told me that we should order a bowl of noodles and split into two. We couldn't finish one bowl of noodles anyhow. So, that was the only question that we need to know about my future spouse in terms of financial background.


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Re: Financial Questions for A Future Spouse

Post by White Coat Investor »

megabad wrote: Wed Oct 28, 2020 3:53 pm What financially based questions should you ask a potential future spouse (or life partner) before becoming engaged? What questions did you ask or do you wish you’d asked?

Particularly curious for divorcees (upon remarriage), but just all around curious based on some recent threads.

Thanks.

Hopefully I get a few good answers because I will probably use them.
net worth
debt
Income
credit score
attitude toward spending and saving
budget

If you're talking about marriage, it's time to start talking about all that stuff. This isn't first date stuff obviously.
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