10 money questions for your mate

There's no one right answer to most money questions. That's important to keep in mind when you're discussing financial matters with your mate. People get emotional about this stuff. Understanding that we all have different attitudes, experiences and expectations concerning money can help us talk more calmly about it. And talking is essential when you're trying to work out a financial plan together. Asking questions, and listening closely to the answers, will help you understand each other better. That can get you started down the road to working out solutions. "Nothing in the world will affect your future together the way that money will. Money touches every area of your life in some way," said Mary Hunt, the author of "7 Money Rules for Life: How to Take Control of Your Financial Future." "If you and your beloved get your attitudes toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in your lives, both individually and collectively."

Liz Weston Financial planner Carl Richards, the author of "The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money," recommended setting aside regular times and a regular place to have these discussions. "The worst time to talk about this stuff," Richards said, "is at 11 at night when you're exhausted." He suggested picking a favorite restaurant, coffee shop or picnic spot for these monthly or quarterly confabs. To avoid burnout, pick one or two topics to discuss at a time, and adopt the mantra "no shame, no blame" to facilitate discussion. ry to confine your big money discussions to those special times, Richards recommended, to avoid conflict and fights when you're less focused. If there's more to be said, you can say it next time.

The 50-30-20 budget

"When we leave, the discussion's done," Richards said.

where you live. and all behind closed doors. but it will help you better understand where your partner is coming from. On a more practical note. in turn. this is stuff you should be sharing with each other. You just have to dream a little and listen to your partner's dreams. may have chafed under their spending restrictions and decided that a more "live for today" attitude made sense. who would be with you. Take some time to fill in the details. 2." Hunt said. now we're getting into the real grit. That empathy may allow you to work better together to come up with solutions. from the weather to what you'd have for lunch. How was money handled in your family growing up. Your files at the three major credit bureaus show what you owe and how you've handled your credit accounts in the recent past. . but siblings who experience the same events may take away very different lessons. now and in the future. Once you've decided to hitch your wagons. meaning she won't have to think about it. One person who grew up with frugal parents may have admired their resourcefulness and adopted their careful approach to money. "If her daddy provided in this way. Or here's another scenario: "Let's say you discover that your fiancée's dad took care of all the bills in a kind of behindclosed-doors fashion so her mother never had to worry about a thing. and how did that affect you? This question is way more practical than it may sound at first.Here are some of the questions you should be asking each other: 1. Her brother. What would your ideal day be like? Here's another seemingly softball question that can reveal a lot about your values and goals. You don't have to be practical or realistic with this exercise. 3. Touchy-feely types will tell you visualization is a powerful way to start creating your ideal life." Talking about your childhoods won't necessarily solve your money problems. it is quite possible she expects the same will be true of her marriage and home. She may expect that you will somehow manage all the money and keep the bills paid and her credit card balance at $0 . Take turns with this one. this exercise will help you identify and communicate what's important to you. Start from the time you wake up in the morning and describe everything about your ideal day -. May I see your credit reports? Ah. . may allow you to incorporate more of those activities and experiences into your daily life. That. meanwhile. what you'd do with your waking hours. . Psychologists tell us our childhood experiences help shape our attitudes about money.

it may be the most difficult thing you will ever do together as you build your relationship. read "A debt payoff plan that works. To get you started on prioritizing debt and making a plan. perhaps even things you did not know existed.and most couples don't. How are we going to pay off our debts? Once all is revealed. "And yes."Sharing your credit reports will get everything on the table. Your attitudes about how much debt is "acceptable" and how fast you need to pay it off may vary.  Free credit score estimates from MSN Money Even if you've decided to keep your finances strictly separate -. "Sometimes it helps to have a third-party moderating. "Once you know what you are dealing with. You'll need to find an approach that works for both of you. something Richards recommended for any couple that can't seem to work out a compromise on their own. a financial planner. That can give you early warning if your partner is taking on new debts or if old collections have popped up to suddenly trash your credit." 4." Richards said. restore. it is scary.an experience he details in "The Behavior Gap" -.Richards concedes he's scared about taking on another mortgage. improve or whatever needs to be done going forward. but if they're still at an impasse. Are we saving enough for retirement? . they may try talking to a third party." he said." I'd like to see every couple do this before they move in together or tie the knot. an attorney. Again.your debts will affect how much money you have available for other goals. opting to merge their money to at least some extent -. the next step is to figure out what to do with what you've found. given your bills and other goals in life. He wants to make a massive down payment of 50% or more when he and his wife buy their next house. "It can be a CPA. and yes. They're not ready to buy again." Hunt said. "I don't want that to happen again." Hunt said. there's no one right answer. while his wife is content with a standard 20% down payment."  Calculator: See when your credit cards will be paid off For example: After overextending on the last home and dumping it in a short sale -. "it will be much easier to get a plan together to repair."  Calculator: How much house can you afford? 5. so they need to be revealed. But it's a smart idea to keep doing it every year. anyone you both trust.

Would you open your doors. adjusting for the twists and turns life sends you. or your kids or parents may need unexpected financial help. 'I put myself through college. you can rest assured that the little buggers will profoundly affect your financial life. can have widely divergent views about their obligation to pay for college. If not. so they can too. Start talking about what your ideal day in retirement might look like. Put it in motion. Figure out a ballpark estimate of what you'd be spending annually in that retirement.and thus how much they'll have to spend in retirement. 6. "One might say. Savers who got a late start or suffered big setbacks may have to adjust their expectations for how much money they'll be able to accrue -.Figuring out the "right" amount to save involves more than punching numbers into a retirement calculator. spending less in the future) until you have a realistic plan. Plus. most parents won't be able to afford to save for a full ride to Harvard if they ever hope to retire -. What do we owe the kids? If you don't already have them. What it takes to be financially fit View more MSN videos Once you have children. A couple that's determined to retire early and travel a lot is probably going to have to save piles more than serial entrepreneurs who can't imagine ever not working or those who expect a generous pension. Couples that agree on most other financial goals. for example. a discussion about whether you will is obviously in order. what you plan may not happen. Even if you don't believe the government's estimate that a middle-class child costs nearly a quartermillion bucks to raise to age 18. then use a retirement calculator to see if you can get from here to there.  Connect with Liz Weston on Facebook Granted." Richards said. Another issue is how you feel about your kids coming back to live with you if they're facing financial difficulties. the big question becomes how much you're going to pay to educate them. Richards said. Disability may kick you out of the workforce early.and retirement savings should be your priority. consider making adjustments (saving more now. under what conditions and for how long? . But how much you can save versus how much you're willing to save may be quite different. So this conversation needs to be a continuing one. and check in regularly to make sure you're on track.' and the other wants to be able to pay 100% of the best school they can get into.

you'll need to share information like where to find important documents and what your passwords are for various financial accounts. and do the same with your partner. So even if you're at the peak of physical fitness. Caregiving responsibilities can curtail the hours adult children are able to work and may lead to early retirements that further affect income and retirement savings. insurance agents -. Will Mom move in with us? Does she have money to pay for care. Whether you need life insurance should. For more. tax pros. Better yet. "They've got responsibilities for their parents and their kids at the same time. But too many of us don't until there's a crisis and we suddenly have to make snap decisions.planners. the MetLife study estimated that such caregiving will cost boomers nearly $3 trillion." Richards said. Clearly. brokers. right? But talking now could prevent some nightmares later. you may not need life insurance. both of you should go to these appointments so each person has a relationship with your helpers and feels comfortable asking questions. what should we choose? And how do we balance all this with any obligations we feel we owe our kids? "This is a big deal for the age group that's in their 40s and 50s. be part of this discussion." If you employ any financial professionals -. but accident or illness can strike anyone. if there's anything more fun to talk about than debt and disability. What would we do if one of us got hurt? The likelihood of your being disabled may vary based on what you do and your general health." 8. What do we owe our parents? A quarter of baby boomers provide personal care. life insurance is likely to be a smart purchase.you both should have their names and contact information handy. financial help or both to their parents. according to a recent MetLife study. this is something we need to be talking about. If the survivor would be scrambling to pay the mortgage or pay for child care. walk through what would happen if you couldn't work. read "Don't take passwords to the grave. Is there money saved to tide you through a short disability? How about disability insurance to cover longer setbacks? Would one of you provide care for the other or would you need to hire help. What would happen to me if you died? Hey. though. and where would that money come from? 9.7. A survivor is going to need all the help he or she can get. or will we pitch in for that? If it's a choice between caring for Dad and continuing to work.  Calculator: What if you got hit by a bus? . of course. it's death. And I'm not just referring to life insurance. If one of you handles most of the finances. In fact. If each of you could get along without the other's income and the services he or she provides to the family.

She is the author of several books. though." Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. how do you feel about buying long-termcare insurance that might help you pay some of these bills?  Calculator: How much would long-term care cost? Again. How will we care for ourselves when we're old? These conversations will probably be pretty abstract when you're young and your parents are still healthy.would you want to. That can start you thinking about what you might do. Will you want to try to stay in your home or move to some kind of assisted-living community? How about moving in with one of the kids . "The fact that we feel differently about these things is not an irreconcilable difference." Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday.the first time you discuss any of these matters. you may not come to an agreement -.or at least an agreement that works with your current financial situation -. exclusively on MSN Money. . most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy.10. you may have to help find solutions for them. But understanding each other is the key to working out an eventual solution." Richards said. Click here to find Weston's most recent articles and blog posts. As your parents get more frail. and would they have you? Will you have enough saved to pay for nursing home or home health care bills down the road? If not. "Keep talking.

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