couples finances en-US 5 Questions Couples Should Ask in the Money Talk <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-questions-couples-should-ask-in-the-money-talk" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Couple talking" title="Couple talking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="147" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When couples decide to live together or get married, they usually talk about family, children, vacations, wedding plans and decorating. They almost never have a discussion about finances. Understanding a person's view and handling of money, however, is just as important as his or her opinion about having children. Once a couple decides to live together, married or unmarried, money decisions will be made on a daily basis that will affect both partners, so it is crucial to be on the same financial page from the beginning.</p> <p>If you are thinking about living with someone or getting married, sit down as a couple early on and ask yourselves the following questions. The answers should provide a solid foundation for building a happier financial life together (or reveal important differences in money attitudes that might stop the relationship in its tracks).</p> <h3>1. How do you feel about money and spending?</h3> <p>It is important to understand the financial environment you each grew up in, and talk about what money means to you. Some people don't think about money when they have it, only when it runs out. Others keep close tabs, saving as much as possible and spending only when absolutely necessary. If one person in the couple is a spendthrift and the other is a tightwad, there are bound to be money problems in the relationship down the road.</p> <p>In 2007, economists at Carnegie Mellon University did a survey of 2600 people, placing them along a tightwad-spendthrift scale. Results showed that 61% were un-conflicted about money (meaning they fell somewhere in the middle), 21% were tightwads and 18% were spendthrifts. Identifying your own financial behavior patterns and views as well as your partner's is a necessary first step. As a couple you should have similar feelings about spending and saving. Being financial partners means working in harmony to meet your needs and achieve your financial goals.</p> <h3>2. How much debt do you have?</h3> <p>Coming into this relationship, you and/or your partner may have student loans, a car loan, credit cards, overdraft lines of credit, etc. If you're planning to live together, the household budget and cash flow will be greatly impacted by you and your partner's ability to contribute to joint expenses. Full disclosure of your debts will allow you to make informed financial decisions as a couple. One of you may be struggling to pay credit card debt or about to start paying on a large student loan; the other person should know about it. In addition, the way you each handle your debt obligations will have a big influence on your financial health as a couple. This leads right into the next question.</p> <h3>3. What is your credit score?</h3> <p>Credit reports rule your adult life; they are a reflection of the way you have handled your financial responsibilities over the last 7 to 10 years. The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) credit score, which is the most widely used, ranges from 300 (awful) to 850 (perfect). The biggest component of the score is your monthly debt payment history. The second biggest component is your credit availability. (Being maxed out on your credit cards isn't good.)</p> <p>Before you start living together or get married, each of you should pull your credit report, make sure it's accurate, then review your reports together. Everyone is entitled to get a free copy of their credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once per year &mdash; go to <a href=""></a>. To get your score on the site it will cost about $12. If there are problems and the credit score is low for either or both of you, this will have a negative impact on your ability to get a job, rent an apartment or get a joint loan, and will result in higher rates charged by utility and insurance companies. Make sure errors are disputed (in writing) and corrected, and monthly debt payments are made on time. (<a href=""></a> has dispute forms.) Your credit score should improve within six months of good debt payment behavior. To be in the top tier, shoot for scores over 720.</p> <h3>4. Will this be an open financial partnership?</h3> <p>When one person operates independently, spending outside of a common budget or plan, your income, saving and purchasing power as a couple isn't maximized and debt can get out of control. Here's just one small example: If each of you spends $2 per day on coffee and $6 on a sandwich during your workday, that's $16 per day, $80 per week, and over $300 per month. Working within a food budget, you could buy the ingredients at the grocery store, make a pot of coffee and sandwiches at home to bring to work, and save over $200 per month. That's over $2400 per year which could be used for retirement savings instead!</p> <p>It's okay if one of you keeps the books and pays the bills, but there should be a regular &quot;budget night&quot; at least once a month where the other person gets an update on your joint financial status. Then you can review spending, savings activity and make financial adjustments and decisions together. Even if you're a stay-at-home-mom with no earned income and your husband is the major breadwinner, you each have a role in the operation of the household and value-added in the financial partnership. A good relationship requires an open and continuous financial dialogue and a meeting of the minds regarding your short and long-term financial goals.</p> <h3>5. What <em>are</em> your financial goals?</h3> <p>This really relates to the first question about your feelings toward money: what is financially important to you. Is it getting a big house in a fancy suburb, building your own business, going on a world cruise, having a comfortable retirement, starting a charitable foundation? Talk about your dreams, decide together how you're going to fulfill them, and create a financial plan. The top three financial goals in most couples' lives are buying a home, saving for retirement, and building up an education savings account. However, it takes time, effort and teamwork to pay for these things. Budgeting will be less drudgery and more fun if you both realize it will help make your dreams come true.</p> <p>Money is essential, money is powerful, money is math. In a relationship, you must both play starring roles in your financial life together. So have that money talk with your significant other. You can't afford what might happen if you don't.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href=";;description=5%20Questions%20Couples%20Should%20Ask%20in%20the%20Money%20Talk"></a></p> <script async defer src="//"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="" alt="5 Questions Couples Should Ask in the Money Talk" width="250" height="374" /></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Hollis Colquhoun. Hollis has over 20 years experience in the financial industry, is an Accredited Financial Counselor and co-author of <strong>Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide</strong>. Contact her at <a href="">Women Empowering Themselves</a>. Here are more articles by Hollis:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Avoid Expensive Credit Report Services When You DIY For Free</a></li> <li><a href="">The College Challenge: Which Way To Pay</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Hollis Colquhoun</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Protect Yourself Financially During a Divorce or Separation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">5 Money Conversations Every Couple Should Have</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">8 Things I Learned About Money After Getting Married</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Put Your Spouse on a Budget Without Ruining Your Marriage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Could a Divorce Improve Your Finances?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Personal Development couples finances marriage relationships Fri, 14 May 2010 13:00:03 +0000 Hollis Colquhoun 78494 at Sexually Transmitted Debt: Eewww! <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sexually-transmitted-debt-eewww" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src=" transmitted debt.jpg" alt="commingling" title="commingling" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="136" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText">You can contract more than just disease by sleeping with the wrong person…watch out for sexually transmitted debt, which can creep into your sex life while you remain blissfully unaware. Your doctor won’t pick up on it; there is no blood test for this one. Your bank book and credit score though: they will bear the brunt of this contagious and insidious plague. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Scott &amp; Sheila had a fiery and tumultuous relationship – one they both loved and hated. Communication was not one of their strengths, and they had very different relationships with money and respective financial backgrounds. <a href="/separate-bank-accounts-till-death-or-banking-do-we-part" target="_blank">Bank accounts</a> aside, they shared many things, including Scott’s credit card, Scott’s credit rating, and Scott’s cash. Sheila never had any of the above, so when it came time to buy a car, a big tv, and any other assortment of elaborate toys at her beckon, Scott was the one to pony up the cash. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Of course, because they were a couple, it didn’t matter that it was Scott’s credit card and Scott’s car loan. They would both pay everything off together, and ride off into the sunset hand in hand. Right? </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">(….crickets chirping….)</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Sadly, no. They broke up shortly after the last round of purchases, and Sheila managed to kick Scott out, rendering him homeless, with no cash (she drained their bank account), and nothing more than the clothes on his back, a new car loan, and an over-the-limit credit card. Sheila even (initially) kept the car. No matter anyway – Scott couldn’t even afford to put gas in it. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Making no judgment as to what happened behind closed doors to warrant the breakup, Scott was irrefutably the victim of sexually transmitted debt: a virus that took him many years to overcome, and one that he even inadvertently passed on to his next relationship before finally kicking. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Although the scenario above happened with relative innocence, there are people out there who are in the <em>business</em> of sexually transmitted debt. Elderly people or those with disabilities are prime targets. The veil of an initially fulfilling relationship can be lifted to reveal blatant abuse and use of one person’s financial stability for the other’s gain. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Regardless of whether there are honorable intentions or not, there are some ways we all can protect ourselves against sexually transmitted debt:</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Avoid Joint Banking</strong></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">To be an official couple, you don’t need to do your <a href="/separate-bank-accounts-till-death-or-banking-do-we-part" target="_blank">banking together</a>. In fact many married couples get by just fine with mortgages and kids in tow without ever signing on the dotted line together. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">If it is easier to have a joint account to pay for household expenses, then simply deposit the minimum amount of money into that account necessary to cover the bills, and enjoy your personal account for the rest. It doesn’t have to be a demonstration of a lack of trust; in fact managing finances separately can allow for one spouse to surprise another with a gift, and also for each spouse to maintain a degree of fiscal responsibility –an empowering and necessary skill at every stage of life. </p> <p>  <br /> <h3 class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Don’t Sign as a Guarantor</strong></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">If you don’t want to see your partner’s debt become your own, then don’t become a guarantor! When you guarantee a loan, you are actually guaranteeing the bank that if the loan recipient can’t or won’t repay the loan, you will. Sure, your employment history or income may look better for qualification purposes, but unless you are prepared to take on the debt as your own, don’t do it. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you have been requested as a guarantor:</p> <ul> <li>Can I afford to make the payments if my partner can’t or won’t?</li> <li>How will our relationship be affected if I am suddenly on the hook for the loan? </li> <li>Would paying out the loan render me bankrupt or put me in financial duress?</li> <li>If it is a business loan, do I truly understand the business and its finances?</li> <li>Can the borrower increase the loan amount without my knowledge?</li> <li>Am I being pressured at all into making this decision? </li> </ul> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Co-Borrow at your own Risk</strong></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">Similar to signing on as a guarantor, your personal financial history might bode well for co-signing a loan with your partner. This will be inevitable if you end up getting a house or car together, but you can add protective measures by ensuring that both spouses need to sign to redraw or increase the loan amount. Generally speaking, only co-sign a loan for an item you both can derive enjoyment from. </p> <p>  <br /> <h3 class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Joint Credit Cards = Joint Debt Traps</strong></h3> <p class="MsoPlainText">I had numerous clients who hid debt from one another all the time. Hubby and wife (very solid couples in some cases, I might add) had joint credit cards, but only one person opened the mail. That same person also managed to run up the cards to beyond their limits with <a href="/impulse-shopping-a-controllable-handicap" target="_blank">impulse shopping purchases</a>. If you have a subsidiary card issued for your credit account, you – and only you - are completely liable for the outstanding amount if your partner goes awol. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Discussing finances openly is difficult for many, if not most couples. And I must note that married and common-law couples (depending on where you live) often have legislation in place that prevents one spouse from escaping the relationship with all the assets while the other bears the brunt of all the debt. But even marriages can dissolve with a few nasty surprises: I have a friend who had no idea that her ex was spending all their money on booze, and many years (and legal battles) later she is still paying off tens of thousands of dollars of their “shared” debt. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Knowing this, how do we avoid all sexually transmitted debt and in so doing not shed trust from our vocabulary or decide to be single for the rest of our lives? Simply put, there is no way to cover off all the bases. One of the keys to a relationship is trust. Love is blinding, but keeping your eyes open and refusing to co-sign a loan might be wrongly construed as a lack of trust. It is a sticky web to navigate, <strong>and the only truly effective way to make it through is by talking everything through – even if the initial conversation is painful</strong>. If the relationship is to be fruitful – emotionally and fiscally – then both parties have to come to the table with their cards visible, and trust that they’re playing the same game. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">7 Tough Questions About Debt, Answered</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Pay These 6 Bills First When Money Is Tight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Botch Up, Then Peddle Back to Good Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Use a Credit Card for an Emergency Without Drowning In Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">What to Do When a Creditor Sues</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Debt Management co-signing loans couples finances guaranteeing loans joint loans Thu, 23 Oct 2008 02:42:47 +0000 Nora Dunn 2541 at Are You and Your Spouse Planning the Same Retirement? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-you-and-your-spouse-planning-the-same-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src=" your both on the same retirement page.jpg" alt="retirement hammock" title="retirement hammock" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText">You expect to spend your retirement years living in Costa Rica. Your spouse expects to stay local and join the golf club. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">And you don’t figure this out until the day before you retire. Oops. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">Marriage Killers</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">There are a few things that tend to take even the most solid of couples by surprise: <strong>weddings, finances, and retirement planning</strong>. </p> <p> <strong>Weddings:</strong> You get engaged to the person of your dreams and look forward to realizing your joint vision of eloping to the Caribbean. You realize to your dismay that the vision was single-sided when you are asked to become a Catholic to satisfy your spouse’s parents’ wishes of a traditional wedding with a guest list of approximately 300. Engaged couples have been known to break up trying to plan their wedding.<br /> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Finances:</strong> Finances aren’t easy to communicate about at the best of times. It is one of the primary reasons for divorce. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Retirement:</strong> By the time two people have stuck in it together through thick and thin to reach retirement, marriage break-up is rare, but it happens. If you realize too late that you and your spouse are on very different pages with regards to what your retirement will look like, you could be on thin ice. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">Just a Few More Years…</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">Some people spend their whole working lives just “hanging on” until retirement. Somehow they figure that day they stop working, everything will be better. They will have more free time, they won’t be a slave to a desk (or a boss), and will finally get to reap the benefits of a lifetime of hard work. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>But what exactly will that retirement look like?</strong> And have you shared your vision with your spouse (and vice versa)? </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <h2>I’m Not Telling</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">Some people are very private in nature. The idea of sharing their life’s dreams with a <a href="/how-to-choose-a-financial-planner-yes-you" target="_blank">financial planner</a> sends them running for the hills. What? Talk to a stranger about things I don’t even talk to other family members about? Never. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">But without some form of communication about retirement, you could find those precious years of leisure wasting away as you and your spouse struggle to find a common ground to enjoy your golden years on. And talking to a financial planner is a great way to open the lines of communication. Not only do they have the tools to help you reach your goals effectively, but they can quarterback the plan and provide perspective and guidance where it is needed. </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">If however, you are still unable to share this personal side of yourselves with an outsider, then <strong>here are a few questions for you and your spouse to discuss to get the wheels turning:</strong></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><strong>What will an average day look like</strong> for us when we’re retired? </li> <li><strong>Where will we live</strong>? What will our home be like? </li> <li><strong>What activities or hobbies will we enjoy</strong>? Together or separately? </li> <li><strong>How much will it cost</strong>: daily, weekly, monthly, and annually? (Use today’s dollars to make things easy. You can calculate a reasonable rate of inflation to determine the future value pretty easily). </li> <li><strong>What do we have to do now</strong> to make this vision a reality later?</li> </ul> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">Dream A Little</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">Keeping your nose to the grindstone and not allowing yourself to dream about retirement for whatever reason can make you lose sight of the forest through all the trees pretty quickly. If however, while you are looking towards retirement, you become depressed about having to continue working currently for what seems like eons to go, then maybe it is time to look at a <a href="/looking-for-the-perfect-career-pick-your-favorite-color" target="_blank">new career</a>. Heck – maybe you’ll want to break free of the norm and retire early! (I managed it at the age of 30, without being rich by any stretch. It just took some creativity, lots of flexibility, and a new twist on my definition of retirement). </p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">You are never too young to start talking to your spouse about retirement. Because the sooner you both know what you want, the sooner you both can shoot for it, and the sooner you both will get there. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">3 Simple Ways to Split Bills With Your Spouse</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">5 Financial Risks Worth Taking</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Could You Make Ends Meet If You Were Suddenly Disabled?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Build Financial Stability After Divorce</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Lifestyle couples finances marriage and finances retirement planning Mon, 15 Sep 2008 22:05:23 +0000 Nora Dunn 2429 at