3 Prenuptial, Must-ask Money Questions

Career Blog

Years ago, when I was a reporter, and the Internet was a card catalog, I wrote an article for a New York newspaper entitled, Deal Breakers: Things to Clarify Before Saying ‘I Do.’” According to several psychologists, the five topics to cover were family, kids, religion, sex, and money.

Little has changed over the years, and I’m proud to say the advice in the piece held up and steered me away from a few train-wreck relationships and into a healthy marriage.

None of these topics are easy to discuss, but money is often the most uncomfortable and, thus, the one people avoid. Resist the urge to sidestep this critical conversation. Instead, embrace the awkwardness and cover the following three points at a minimum.

1. Tell me about your past — debt. 

Sparing each other the specifics of your former lovers is often a wise decision, but details are critical when it comes to debt. Understanding the amount, length, and cause of your respective financial obligations can provide significant insight into your mate’s decision-making processes. For example, having a series of student loans because you put yourself through medical school is a lot different than the broke buster who perpetually plays the ponies on the latest iPhone. To quote TLC, you don’t want no scrubs.

2. What will we save for? 

Having a shared goal can bring couples together. The secret is to have something long-term, such as retirement plans or mortgage payoff, and something nearer-term, like a fancy dinner out or a dream vacation to strive for. Try to balance fun and practical.

3. What will we spend on? 

Everyone needs to indulge in “frivolous” spending, so don’t sweat the latte purchase or the music subscription. Big-ticket items, however, should be agreed in advance. For example, if travel and education are important to you both, embrace them despite what others say. Collecting experiences through shared adventures and setting up your kids for success can make watching that 529 grow more exciting than any sports car. Couples should find their thing(s) and enjoy.

Bonus points: What will we give? 

Living in this time means you’ve already won the lottery. Most of us reading this have access to the type of care and conveniences prior generations could only dream of. Even our toughest days, viewed with the right perspective make us lucky in comparison to many others. So give.

Giving back, be it time, money, expertise or energy, can strengthen a relationship by making you appreciate each other and what you have. Couples should discuss their favorite charities and why they are important and then give consistently. Some how, when you place the focus on others, you strengthen yourself.

Need a career coach? Contact me via www.plotlineleadership.com.

Be sure to check out my latest book The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting and follow me on Twitter at @timtoterhi

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