Whether you’ve just put a ring on it, you’re well into wedding planning, or you recently said “I do,” you’re probably learning a lot about your partner. Even if you’ve been together for a long time before your engagement, discussions about your future can become a lot more real — and in-depth — after you start planning your wedding. Money is one of those topics that inevitably comes up as you plan for your future, and it’s one of the most important discussions you’ll have. Why? Because money advises all your other decisions as a couple: your wedding budget, your decision to have or not have kids, where you live, if and where you travel, what your careers look like, and more.
But having money talks can be awkward, emotional, and stressful. You may also not know where to start or what to ask, which means you may not get down to the “nitty gritty” you really need to reach as a couple. One of the best ways we at Everyday Money have found to resolve this is to make money talks more of a game. Let’s call it “The Newlywed Money Game.” Instead of hashing out the details of your budgets, debts, or future money goals with a computer or account statements in the way, why not make it a fun game of questions, complete with notecards?
What You’ll Need to Play the Newlywed Money Game
At least one hour of free time (preferably at home)
Your favorite beverages and some snacks
Notecards and a Sharpie
The list of questions below
How to Play the Newlywed Money Game
Before you sit down to play this game, spend some time writing out the questions below on your notecards. Once you’ve listed all of the questions, make sure to shuffle your deck and then split the questions evenly between you and your partner. Take time for both of you to answer each question, but don’t get caught up on any single question for too long. Try to keep a fun, fast pace but make notes on topics you want to research, talk about more, or seem to have disagreements on. You can even bring a kitchen or smartphone timer into the mix so you only spend 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 2 minutes on each question
Once you’ve gone through all of the questions, you can talk more about “bigger” money discussions, hashing out details or asking follow-up questions. If you’ve run out of time, schedule time to have another chat.
35 Money Questions to Ask Your Partner
Keep in mind that, while this list is pretty extensive, you may have other specific questions you want to ask your partner. Add a few blank notecards to your two piles of notecards so that you and your partner can fill them in with specific questions. Also note that you may not need some questions if you have lived together for a long time.
How much money do you make a year?
How much do you spend on rent? Groceries? Your vehicle?
How much money do you save or invest a month?
Do you have consumer debt? What kind? How much?
Do you have student loans? If so, how much do you owe?
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? Have you ever had a bill sent to collection? Have you ever had a car or home repossessed?
Do you know your credit score? If so, what is it?
When we get married, do you want to combine all accounts (checking, saving, investing, etc.)? If not, why?
Do you want to create a budget with our combined income and expenses?
Do you pay with cash, debit card, or credit card? How will we pay for things when we get married?
Do you pay off your credit card every month or do you have a rolling balance? What will we do when we get married?
Who should handle the day-to-day finances and paying bills?
How much do you think is too much to spend on a vacation (or honeymoon)?
How much do you think our wedding will cost? How much is too much?
How are we paying for the wedding and honeymoon? Will your parents help? Are we using savings, credit cards, etc.?
After we get married, do you want to buy a house? If so, what kind of house? Where?
Do you want kids? How many? When?
If we do have kids, how will we manage child care? Will both of us keep working or will one of us stay home?
Do we plan on paying for our kids’ college?
When do you want to retire? How much do you think we should have saved up for retirement?
Who would we lend money to if they asked? How much? Would you expect it to be paid back?
Should we consult each other on every expense? If not, what dollar amount do you think is OK to spend without talking to each other?
How much money do we want in our emergency fund?
How much money do we want to invest or save together each month?
How much do you want to donate to causes, pay to tithe, or give to others?
Where do you spend the most money? What do you love to buy? What do you hate buying?
How did your parents handle money? Is there something you’d want to do differently, or bring with you into our marriage?
Was there anything in past relationships that you want to avoid when it comes to money?
Do we want to invest in the relationship with date nights, therapy, vacations, etc.?
What makes you most stressed out about money?
What makes you the happiest about money?
Do you like to talk about money at a particular time of the day, each week, or month? If so, why?
What tools (spreadsheets, statements, paper trackers, apps, etc.) will we use to track our money?
How often will we check in with our finances? When can we put it on the calendar?
Do you want to hire a financial planner or investment advisor?
After the Money Questions
One of the biggest things you may notice, after playing this game, is that you and your partner have different experiences with money, different beliefs regarding what you should spend (or save), and an overall different relationship with money. That’s perfectly fine! This is part of why these money discussions are so important upfront. This way, you can enter your new life together with realistic expectations and better understandings. Once you’re done asking the “smaller” questions, you can work on communicating your money values and having more money talks before you walk down the aisle.
Want more help with these premarital money convos? We’ll be talking more about it in the rest of our Newlywed Conversation series.