Couples may be nervous about having the money conversation. But don’t panic! Money expert Farnoosh Torabi has key topics and ice breakers to get you talking about money.
After about a year or so of dating and planning to move in with one another, my husband and I decided to do the big reveal and disclose specific details of our personal finances. Even with more than a decade of financial strategizing under my belt as a financial author and coach, I admit this talk was not so easy. Talking money with a partner requires being intimately honest about income, savings, debt, etc. So, to ease the tension we headed to our favorite margarita bar to talk money. (We drank responsibly.)
Getting open and honest about your financial nuts and bolts is a necessary step for all serious couples. After all, wouldn’t you want to know if your partner has a significant amount of debt before walking down the aisle? Or—on the bright side—if he or she has an impressive amount of savings?
If it’s the first time you’re sitting down to talk about money, you want to paint a clear picture for the other person. Assume that up until now you’ve been a blank canvas to your spouse, so get it all out. Here’s a checklist of the basic financial areas you want to cover, if you don’t already know.
Income: What is your take-home pay? It may sound strange, but I have actually coached married couples that don’t know how much their spouse earns.
Savings: How much money do you have saved up for a rainy day and retirement?
Debt: From student loans to credit card debt, car loans to mortgages, how much do you owe? How far along are you in paying these debts back? Are you behind on anything?
Assets: What do you fully own that has value? Do you own your car? Property?
Credit History: This may not be something you can readily produce on your money date, but later each of you can pull your credit report for free at Annualcreditreport.com. You want to check for discrepancies and errors. Make sure what’s reported accurately represents your knowledge of your credit history.
Credit Score: This will be key if the two of you plan to take on additional loans, like a mortgage or car loan together.
Financial Goals: As individuals, where do you want to be in the next year? Do you hope to get married? Buy property together? Sharing your goals is critical to not only make sure you’re in agreement with how you see your future together, but also to determine how you, as a couple, will finance it.
Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance author, TV personality, and sought-after speaker whose mission is to help people take control of their finances so they can live their richest, happiest lives. A frequent financial contributor to Yahoo! and The Today Show and contributing editor to Money Magazine, she has personally coached a wide range of audiences, from college students to couples to executives at Fortune 500 firms. She is the author of When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women. Follow her on Twitter @Farnoosh.