6 Money Questions Couples Need to Ask Each Other

These conversation starters will help make dreaded money talks easier.

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Let’s face it, talking about money can be a total turn off – and a huge source of stress – for couples. But money factors into a partnership again and again and, you guessed it, again, from the first date (who pays?) to moving in (who contributes to which bills?) to merging finances (you’re in how much debt?) to planning a long life together (how will we handle retirement?), and any one of these conversations, while crucial, can be uncomfortable.

But there are ways to make these necessary financial check-ins less of a chore. Money coach Denise Hughes recommends adding a dose of fun by doing an activity while you talk. “I think that for money discussions, we need to invite in some lightness and be open-minded, no matter what that means for a couple. Maybe it means going out to dinner, or cooking a great dinner at home, and having a conversation about what their dreams are for the next year,” says Hughes, the author of Earn, Save, Spend, Give: 4 Things to Do with Your Money and How to Make It All Work. “My husband and I go on a hike at the beginning of January every year to discuss our money goals. We talk about what needs to be done around the house, where we want to go on vacation — all while hiking in nature.”

Doesn’t that sound actually pleasant? Whether you hash it out on a mountain or over a meal, six months into dating or sixteen years into marriage, here are some of the questions Hughes suggests you cover.

Where Are We?

Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

“It might be surprising, but a lot of couples live in such vagueness, or even secrecy, around their money. So asking the question ‘where are we?’ really requires people to have their eyes wide open,” Hughes says. Data from 4,500 families in the National Survey of Families and Households found that financial disagreements were the greatest predictor of divorce, so it’s well worth the initial awkwardness to ward off a troubled future. For couples in the early stages of commitment, that could mean revealing salaries, savings, and debts. More established couples may need to assess bills, expenses, and make plans to stay on track with where they want to be.

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