5 Conversations You & Your Partner Need To Have About Money Before Getting Engaged

by Jamie Kravitz

It may seem like common sense for you and your significant other to have a talk about money before getting engaged, but when it comes to having the actual discussion, it can be difficult to know where to begin. There are a number of specific subjects you'll need to discuss that fall under the broader topic of money. Figures such as your current salaries, strategies for maintaining a budget, and thoughts on your future career goals are all important to cover.

This is a conversation that you and your partner need to plan for, so don't spring it on them without notice. You should each come to the table prepared with your own set of questions and concerns. Be ready to provide honest answers to their inquiries, and you can expect the same from them. Of course, there are going to be events in your life that you didn't anticipate. So, it's also important to come up with a contingency plan in case of a financial emergency.

I spoke to Roger Ma, Certified Financial Planner at lifelaidout, about the conversations you and your partner need to have about money before getting engaged. Here, he provides practical advice, as well as a reminder to keep the financial aspects of your relationship in perspective.

You And Your Partner's Financial Goals And Values
Stocksy/Sonja Lekovic

Sharing similar values with your significant other is important in a romantic relationship. This extends to your beliefs about money. "I think having a good understanding of each other's money mindset is extremely important," says Ma. "That means having an understanding of what each of you value, what financial goals you want to achieve together, and whether what each of you values is currently how each of you spend your money."

Before you have that thorough discussion about your finances with your partner, Ma suggests giving yourself a financial checkup and making sure you know your net worth, annual spending and savings rates, and your credit score.

The Role Money Has Played In Each Of Your Lives
Stocksy/Jessica Sharmin

Ma explains that it may also be helpful to know about the role money has played in each of your lives. He poses a couple of potential questions, which you should both answer. "Growing up, did money (or the lack of money) cause a lot of stress for your family or did your family not have to worry about money as much?" And, "How did your relationship with money as a child influence how money impacts your life today?" Ma says.

How You Both Manage Your Money
Stocksy/Jamie Grill Atlas

"In an ideal world, it would be good to know your future partner's salary, net worth, the assets and liabilities that make up their net worth, their annual spending and savings rates, and their credit score," says Ma. However, he recognizes that some people may not be willing to share all of that financial information about themselves before they are engaged. "In those situations, it would be good to at least get a directional sense of those metrics," he says.

"In some instances, you may be able to get a sense of how your partner manages their money through real-world clues," Ma explains. He mentions things you can pay attention to, like whether they always wear the latest clothing styles or have the newest technology gadget, if they go on expensive vacations, and whether they check a restaurant bill before paying.

Your Respective Career Trajectories
Stocksy/Jovo Jovanovic

In the event that you do end up comparing your financial figures with your significant other, just know that when couples first get engaged or married, it's inevitable that there will be differences in salaries and net worth. "[This] is totally fine. I don't think I've ever worked with a couple where their salaries and the value of their assets and debts before marriage were exactly the same," says Ma.

Going beyond money, Ma says it's a good idea to understand your partner's career trajectory and career plans. "Do they plan on staying in the same industry, transitioning industries, or attending graduate school?" he asks.

Your Contingency Plans
Stocksy/Catherine MacBride

Finally, Ma says that more important than bringing the same amount of financial assets to the relationship is "being on the same page regarding what you value and what financial goals you want to achieve together." He also advises people not to get caught up in differences in present-day salaries or net worth.

"People's lives are fluid, and while you may make a higher salary now and have a higher net worth, that could change in an instant. You may decide to go back to graduate school, transition industries, or lose your job. Also, there are many things that people bring to a relationship beyond money. Please keep that in perspective as you have these financial conversations," says Ma.

Money isn't everything, especially when it comes to love. While it's important to be smart about your finances, as with all aspects of a relationship, it's about compromise and working together to achieve a shared goal.

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