Dating is more innovative today than it ever has been. We have apps, websites, and reality shows to facilitate the process. Most people know the physical and economic qualities they want in a spouse, but what about their finances? If you are not sure what financial questions to ask, I have come up with five general questions to ask based on my personal and professional experience. Enjoy!
1. What is Your Charitable Giving Philosophy?
Ok, you can re-phrase this one to fit a more natural lingo, but it’s a GOOD question to ask! This is the first question because, if you are a person of faith, your faith influences EVERY decision you make, including how you spend your money. You are going to want to know how a future spouse’s faith influences their giving.
If tithing is important to you, communicate that while dating and ask your partner how they tithe. If their giving does not align with your faith, you will have to evaluate and pray on whether it is an “end all, be all.” You don’t want to compromise your eternal values for temporary satisfaction.
2. What is Your Debt Story
With 80% of Americans in debt, the search for a spouse who is debt-free is...difficult. So, since almost all of the Dave-Ramsey-Snowball-Debt-Eliminators are already boo’d up, I think it’s more practical to ask a date to tell their “debt story.” When told as a story, it gives you a chance to evaluate whether or not their financial priorities are a fit for you. Make sure their story does not just explain how they accumulated the debt, but also their plan to pay it off! Maybe someone who is living bare bones to pay off credit card debt is a better fit for you than someone else taking 25 years to pay off several student loans. Consider what debt is acceptable to you and how it would affect your future finances.
3. What is Your Savings Strategy?
This will help you learn his/her short-term and long-term goals. “Strategy” is a good term to use because it encourages them to share the end goal of their savings plan..
Are they still living with their mother because they’re saving to buy a house?
Do they put 5% of their paycheck into a retirement account?
Do they have an emergency fund?
The answers to these questions can help you determine if their savings habits align with yours. The answers also might help you learn a little about what he/she values most.
4. Tell Me About Your Family's Financial Situation
This might be a sensitive topic for some, but if the relationship is looking serious, you will want to ask. Understanding his/her family’s financial situation will give you insight into areas of financial leadership and/or dependence. Do his/her siblings ask him/her for money? Does he/she still get an “allowance from their parents?” Does he/she have disabled family members that require financial assistance? The answers to these will allow you and your partner to discuss financial boundaries and learn a lot more about each other’s upbringing. This might not be a first date type of question, but it’s a good idea to eventually bring it up.
5. What is Your Credit Score?
So... this might not be a “first date” question (although it was for me), but you’re going to want to know eventually. Credit is going to determine your interest rates on a new car and house. It could also affect whether or not you can rent a home as well as whether you can obtain future job opportunities. You will be able to set your future expectations more realistically when you know the credit situation you will be working with. Keep in mind, a low credit score doesn’t always reflect financial negligence. Maybe he/she opened a credit card less than a year ago - or he/she was hit with an unexpected medical bill that could not be paid timely.. You will have to decide how much you value credit and then determine if your Partner is a good fit. Credit will affect your life whether you want it to or not - so it is always good to know what you’re working with.
With finances consistently ranking at the top of the "marriage struggles" list, it is important to do all that you can to make sure you and your potential spouse are unified in this area. The questions I have listed will only bring to light a handful of financial issues you will want to consider. Pray, ask others for wisdom, and consider your values to ask all of the necessary questions that will give you financial peace about your future love.