(The following is an abbreviated transcription from a video Linda and I recorded. Please excuse any typos or errors.)
We are going to take you through 11 financial questions that you must ask before getting married.
Ask these questions, have this conversation if you are engaged. And definitely before you get married. And I will tell you why. Arguing about money early on in your relationship may be the number one predictor of divorce.
There was a study that was done with 4,500 couples published in the Journal of Family Relationships. They found that arguing about money might just be the number one early predictor of divorce.
94% of people who say they have a great marriage discuss their money dreams with their spouse. So, so many couples just don’t talk about money, but if you wanna have a great marriage, talking to your spouse about your money dreams might just be part of that equation.
And we actually created a PDF for free for you to download.
Where basically, we have all these questions listed and a limited space to write something out so you can run, get some ice cream or some donuts. Sit down with your fiancee or your future husband or wife and just have this conversation to get the ball rolling.
Now before we get into all the details, we recorded our discussion that you can listen to on our Podcast below. But, if you would rather read the full transcription, you can do so here in this article!
Linda: The very first thing here is that we need to find out if they’re even open to talking about finances, right? It might give you an indication about how they handle conflict, because if this is something that brings up a lot of attention for them or for the two of you, you know, when you come together to talk about it, it’s gonna tell you what future conversations might look like.
1. How would you describe your spending habits?
Bob: So number one, how would you describe your spending habits?
I think this is really important because when we were dating, we spent money very, very differently. Right. And, and I spent a lot of it and it was just really good for us to know how each other was spending money. So there aren’t any surprises when we get into our marriage because it’s easy to hide this while you’re dating and engaged. But once you’re married it becomes a bit more challenging. Well, and you shouldn’t be hiding. Two are one flesh, like.
2. Are you a spender or a saver?
Linda: Yeah, that, that is a great question. I think it naturally right into number two. Are you a spender or a saver?
Bob: Yeah. Most of the couples we’ve dealt with lean to one or the other. Like it’s pretty rare when we have a couple who are both like hardcore spenders or hardcore savers. Yeah. Because normally you just balance each other out. Right. And so even if you come into it both kind of being spenders, like normally one person kind of raises their hand and be like, all right, I’m gonna be the one who’s a little more responsible and like trying to rein us in here.
Linda: Yeah. And if both of you are just like gung-ho spenders and like have no restraint it. All right. This is something that you definitely need to know before you get married, right?
Because this very much can be a big deal if you’re both spenders. Like you might not spend on the same thing, and then you’re like, well, why did you just spend all that money on, you know, whatever, getting your hair done, me.
Bob: When I wanted to spend that money on new tools. These are the conversations and, and since you’re both just like, whatever, we’ll just do whatever. You know, it’s just interesting like you have to know. And if you’re both hardcore savers, like what does that look like? Enjoying your life and how can you like, enjoy your lives together without just being so miserly.
Linda:Yeah. The savers is, you know, towards hoarding (declutter and make money!). Two hardcore savers can get together and just hoard their way into eternity. You know, and that’s not, not ideal either, so, right. That’s why that’s such an important question to ask.
3. What is a non-negotiable in your spending?
Linda: All right. Number three is, what is a non-negotiable in your spending? I think this one is interesting because I think we all have that where it’s like, I watch Netflix, or I like to get coffee every Saturday morning.
Bob: That’s when we first got married. You had that face cream or whatever.
Linda: Yes. I have used this for 10 years and I will always use this face cream.
Bob: Yeah, it’s super expensive, but I will absolutely use it, right? I don’t care if we can’t buy groceries next week, I’m getting this face cream.
Linda: So yeah, I mean thing, this again gives you insight into how you’re going to work through things, because some of those things, Are very legitimate and it’s like, okay, great. Let’s make sure you have money to get coffee every Saturday. That’s fine.
Saying no and knowing what is reasonable
Linda: But if it’s, Hey, I spent $700 a month on coffee, but you’re only making $800 a month, that’s where it’s like you need to start having some conversations and are they willing to bend? How can we make this work? How can we make more money?
If that’s what your priority is, that means you’re saying no to other things. So let’s look at the other things that you’re saying no to. Like all of that is like conflict resolution that has to be walked through. In order to come up with what you guys are going to actually do and how you’re actually going to live without being in a fight all the time. Cause that’s just miserable and that’s not how you wanna live your life, right?
Bob: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.
4. What did you learn about money growing up?
Linda: All right. Number four is, what did you learn about money growing up? I think there’s a lot of void in this answer probably for most people, where it’s like, I didn’t really learn that much.
Bob: Yeah. Well, no, we hear all the time like, yeah, my parents just didn’t talk about money in our house. Yeah, our parents did their best, just like everybody’s parents did. But like, I don’t feel like we talk about money as much as. We should have and, and that’s something that we’re determined to change because it’s like, how, how do you know what to do?
Your philosophy on money
Linda: Yeah. You know? Well, and I kind of wonder if part of this question isn’t, what is your philosophy on money?
Bob: Because we are getting influence from all sorts of different places, whether we realize it or not. I mean, credit card company commercials, you know, will tell you one thing. Your best friend will tell you one thing. You’ll watch people on social media that are living a lifestyle that might look a certain way, but are actually not.
Like, yeah we’re establishing beliefs, right? Based off of everything that we’re seeing around us. Yeah. And how our broke friends are spending money that’s creating our financial kind of worldview and the, the beliefs that we have about money. Right. And so you have to know that like you’re going to get married, you have to know you’re gonna view money differently than your spouse.
Right. Okay. And that’s okay. But you guys have to talk about it. It’s why we’re doing. So that you can get on the same page and at least be able to speak the same language.
5. How did your parents handle money?
Linda: Absolutely. So number five is how did your parents handle money?
Bob: Most of us observed some of what they did, right? Like we can kind of tell what they were doing and we learned from what they were doing.
Linda: I mean, this is it. Like so much of this is caught not taught. So what did we learn from watching our parents, the mistakes that we saw they make, how they spent money? Like what did you learn from your parents? And I think there’s a lot here.
6. How do you feel about debt?
Linda: Number six on the list is how do you feel about debt?
There’s just a lot of people who are like absolutely I will never have any debt (what the Bible says about debt). I will never take on any debt for any reason. And you have plenty of people who’s like, yeah, I’ll just take on as much debt as I can until I die. I’ll leave all this debt to my kids or to the credit card companies (how to pay off your credit card debt!). Bankruptcy. Yeah, so they’re very, very differing philosophies on debt.
Two debts become one
Linda: And this is an important thing to talk about before you get married. Because many of your debts will likely become joint debts. You know that you guys will be carry the burden together. Yeah. And so you need to know how your future. Feels about it.
7. How do you think married couples should manager their finances together?
Linda: Number seven is how do you think married couples should manage their finances together?
Bob: So this is a great one because it’s important to identify what you think the answer is and what your spouse thinks. And again, like, let’s have this conversation beforehand and what does that look like? I mean, does that mean that we have a joint bank account? Does that mean that we don’t, like there’s some couples who just insist on not having a joint bank account.
We’re gonna keep everything separate and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And this is my job and we pay the bills out of my job and you don’t make as much money so you don’t get as much spending money. There’s a lot of stuff here, so it’s really important to kind of figure out where you land on that (check out the unlikely money change that helped our marriage).
You need to be a team
Bob: You know, personally we subscribe to the two become one flesh. And so as soon as we got engaged, your debt became my debt and my debt became your debt. We just became a team and it’s like, we’re gonna do this together. And we have a joint account now.
Within that we do have separate spending money accounts. Which I highly recommend because it’s really important that you have money that is specifically for you to do whatever you want without any judgment from your spouse. But we subscribe to the theory and the idea of it all being all of ours. She can see everything I spend money on. And vice versa. I think that’s where the healthiest spot is.
Don’t hide things from your spouse
Linda: Yeah. And I mean, this is, this is a big thing here too, is because I should not be hiding anything from Bob. And so if I’m spending my money on things that I’m trying to hide from him, there may be some question in my character. Why am I trying to hide things?
Bob: And maybe it’s just cuz of a heart issue that I have of like feeling afraid or guilty or ashamed of something. But that’s actually his job as my husband to go, Hey, let’s talk about this. Why are you feeling guilt about this? Why are you feeling ashamed of this? That’s how we can actually have a better marriage is by seeing some of that stuff and bring some questions up, not to make the other person feel awful about it, but to say there’s more freedom for you in this (steps to financial freedom).
God has freedom for you in this. And if it’s a let’s figure out why it’s a problem, so it doesn’t have to be a problem anymore.
Handling spending problems in marriage
Bob: Yeah, and the thing I would add to that is it’s also my job not to pour on the guilt and shame. And so we’re actually talking about a specific thing that we went through in our marriage. Like one specific one comes to mind with the Starbucks addiction.
Linda: With the Starbucks. Yes. Okay. So I had a massive Starbucks addiction. And I would kind of hide the cups from him. Like I’d try to throw ’em away before he saw ’em or like throw ’em away, like at Target or something so he wouldn’t see it, which was ridiculous because like it was on our bank statement. And so he would like see everything, you know what I mean? But in my head, if he didn’t, See the packaging, then he wouldn’t bring up, oh, you went to Starbucks again.
Bob: And things were, if I remember the timeline, like fairly tight at that point financially. And so I was actually feeling some pressure and stress from that a little bit. But I knew, and this was, you know, wisdom that had been passed out from someone else. But I knew the best way to do that wasn’t to just pour on the guilt and shame and just like berate her for it. But really, We do need to talk about it. We need to get out in the open, but like, how can I do this in love? How can I do this in a way that you can actually receive this so we can have a conversation?
Linda: Yeah. And this was years of me working through this, but one of the things that works that helped me work through it was when you said, huh, do you know you’re spending this much on Starbucks a month? That’s it.
Bob: That’s it. And that’s this much a year. And then you didn’t say anything else. It was just information. And then I got to decide what I was gonna do about it, and that actually broke something off of me. It was like, well, I don’t actually think that’s how I wanna be spending my money. Like I, I made that decision based on just you giving me the information.
Absolutely no judgment. Yeah.
Linda: Well, we did it. We did at that time.
8. Are you currently saving for anything?
Linda: All right, number eight. Are you currently saving for anything? So this could be a vacation (how we travel for free!), could be for your retirement (how much should you save for retirement?).
Bob: Right. And I think what this reveals is, honestly, I think it’s a way of revealing what is important to someone. And it also reveals do they have capacity to save (here are ways you can save money).
Linda: So if they say that they’re a saver and they have no money in savings and they have $15,000 a credit card debt, that speaks some truth to whether or not they are actually a saver, you know?
9. How do you handle financial emergencies?
Linda: Okay. Number nine is how do you handle financial emergencies?
Bob: Also great, one that just reveals habits (quick ways to create an emergency fund). How do you handle a financial emergency?
Linda: Panic. I cry. I feel like someone’s sitting on my chest. These were all real answers for me. Okay. Don’t judge. This is the reality of some people. What was your reality?
Bob: I’m just gonna figure this out. I am gonna figure this out. Oh, so very much self. I’m gonna take this on. And I can do this. I, you know, mustering up the strength.
God wants us to depend upon Him
Bob: Newsflash, God wants us to be dependent on Him, really feels like He likes getting us in the position where we have to be dependent on Him.
So I had to get to that breaking point where I realized that I can’t just take this all on myself, like I have to get God in this equation (prayers for finances). It’s really important to bring God into your financial equation because I promise you, you’re going to reach a point in some way or another in your life where you’re going to have to depend on Him.
So you might as well just voluntarily just go for it. Own up to it. I need to depend on God as my provider and just run with that.
Linda: But the thing that’s so beautiful about that is that once you do, like, He handles it so much more creatively and interesting, and like He takes the burden off of you.
And it, it just, it frees you up to realize who He is. It tells you who He is. It kind of puts you in perspective of like, I am a human with limited resources. And He is Almighty God. The Almighty God and my provider. When you get into this immediately when you, yeah, even having this conversation right off the bat puts you in a position to like really be able to trust God in your marriage for your finances, and I think for other things too.
Bob: Yeah, it’s a great foundation.
10. What are your long-term financial goals?
Bob: Number ten, what are your long-term financial goals? So some of the previous questions kind of, I think revealed things. And this is an opportunity for, you know, your significant other to actually explain and to tell you. And I think that’s good to like let them say certain things of what they believe and what they feel. But also show a little bit of the truth by habits and things like that (here’s my checklist to financial freedom).
So this again, is important because again, directionally, where are we going? Like one of the first long term financial goals that we ever talked about was that we had this desire to be able to give away millions of dollars and we were dirt poor, like had no money (and we’re achieving this goal!). But yet we still had these long term goals that were in alignment. Which honestly, I think helped us both realize, all right, I think we’re a good fit. Because we had these two goals that were in alignment with each other.
And on the other hand, If one of us would’ve been, I want to live in this little town and this little house and never move again. And the other one is like, well, I want all Versace and Gucci and Louis Vuitton and live in New York City… that’s just completely different things. Like that’s just important to know from the start.
Linda: Like, I mean, this is obvious. But like, it’s amazing to me how many people race into marriage without having any of these conversations. And that’s why we’re doing this. That’s why I hope you find this helpful. I hope you run with this right and do this.
11. What percentage are you currently giving?
Bob: But that’s a really important question to ask, which kind of leads in our case to question number eleven, what percentage are you currently giving?
And this isn’t a pry and this isn’t a judge, but I think it’s just really important to know where your significant other is and where they want to go with this. And so in our case, like we had this desire from an early age (track your net given). We both wanted to give a whole lot and it was just something burning in our hearts that God had put in there, you know? And our goal is to keep giving our age as a percentage.
Linda: Yeah. But if you’re someone who’s like, I have been a tither since the day I was born, and I will be to the day I die. And then your significant other is, like, I will never give money to the church. Like, like you have to know this stuff. You know, and it’s just really, really important that you get these conversations outta way on the front end, right? So that’s why we’re bringing it up.
Don’t forget the free PDF
Bob: All right, so now that we’ve gone through the 11 just a reminder again, we have this PDF available. You can download this and you can print this off. And if you guys don’t even wanna do this in the same room, which I do recommend doing, but if you wanna just write ’em down on the paper and exchange ’em and then have a conversation, like however you wanna. This PDF will help you do that. So just head over seedtime.com/engaged.
Wrapping things up
Bob: I’m just so glad you’re watching this now. Because man, we are so excited for you cuz if you get this now, it’s like, it’s gonna be such a big deal. It’s gonna be such a game changer for you and you’re gonna avoid so much hassle and heartache in your relationship and future marriage. You’ll have a much better chance of having a successful and happy marriage.
So just wanna thank you again for watching the video. And if you’re engaged, actually do this. Don’t just watch the video. Actually do this. Have this conversation. And our prayer is just that God would help you to come into unity and just you start your marriage off on the right foot.
Linda: Yeah. You’d be at such an advantage because you did this. And if you’re someone who’s watching this and you are married and you know a couple that’s gonna be getting married soon, like send this to them.
Bob: Yeah. Send this to them. Like, this is so important. You know this if you’re married. You know how important this is. So pass this along to them.
But anyway, that’s all we have for today. Be blessed, be blessing, and we’ll see you in the next one.