Money and marriage is a complicated matter because it involves two people talking about something that is difficult.  It is often cited as the number one reason for divorce.  Talking about money with your partner doesn’t have to be embarrassing or overwhelming (but if you want a list of things to fight about click here).  Here are some conversation starters for each stage of your marriage.

Dating, Engaged or Newlyweds

When relationships are new it’s important to understand the money story of your partner.  How they grew up with money is crucial to how they view money today.  Sharing if you have debt and your repayment plan is like baring your soul.  Money is not something we are taught to talk about as a society (but we are trying to change that), but if you plan to spend the rest of your life with someone it’s important.  Here are a few openers to consider:

  • Did your family talk about money growing up?
  • How did you get through college?
  • What were some of the vacations you took with your family?
  • Who paid the bills in your family?

Into the Married Routine

After the honeymoon period is over couples generally fall into a married routine.  Who does the dishes, who takes out the trash, etc.  At this point somethings in life can go on autopilot and that’s good.  Paying your bills on time and paying down debt is a great strategy, but so is planning for your financial future together.  Determining if you have the same financial dreams and learning how they can work together is key at this stage.

  • Do you want to purchase a home? If yes, why kind?
  • If you plan to have children, what will each partner’s career look like?
  • When do you want to retire? What do you want retirement to look like?

Planning your dreams (link retirement article here) together is a key to success.  Retirement can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

Beyond Retirement

You have made it, but that doesn’t mean the money conversations are over.  Living on a fixed income is an adjustment.  Consider making a list of musts with your partner; things you want in your budget each month.  Do you both want to travel?  How will that fit into your overall budget?  It’s also important to consider your estate plan.  If your children are grown your overall financial needs are different versus when they were minors.

Here are some fun money conversations from real couples.

Join Plaid Radio with Nick of Mapped Out Money as he shares his money thoughts after a few years of marriage.