7 tough financial questions every queer couple needs to ask each other
Mikey Rox | Contributing Writer
Connect via Instagram @mikeyroxtravels
Money can be a sensitive and stressful topic for couples to discuss, but working together on a financial plan is crucial for creating the life you both dream of. Sweeping your financial faux pas under the rug will only lead to more difficult moments and bigger fights later, so it’s better to get it over with early on.
No time like the present, of course, so plan a date with your partner to discuss these tough questions that are critical to your joint financial success.
- How much debt do you have?
Debt is often associated with shame so it’s important to be positive and empathic. Begin by talking about your own dilemmas with debt so your partner doesn’t feel judged. Figuring out the cause of your partner’s debt can help you two avoid it in the future. Be willing to work together on a repayment plan and, remember, the sooner you pay off this debt, the sooner you can work toward your shared goals.
There are apps that can help you with this, according to family finance expert Andrea Woroch: “Apps like Debt Free allow you to track debt repayments to help you both stay motivated, while Mint and HoneyFi help you manage shared finances and bills in one place,” she says.
If cutting back isn’t enough, take on a side hustle to boost debt payments. For instance, you can pet sit with your partner to make up to $1,000 a month via sites like Rover.com, which is a fun way to spend time together while making some extra cash.”
To avoid taking on new debt, set spending rules to avoid impulse purchases. For instance, you and your partner agree to discuss potential purchases at a predetermined dollar amount, say $50 or $100, depending on your budget.
- What’s your credit score?
In a society that puts so much emphasis and value on our credit scores, it’s easy to feel inferior to a partner that has a high number. But just because it may be uncomfortable to talk about it doesn’t mean it should be disregarded altogether. In fact, you may find ways to increase it by laying it all out on the table.
“A healthy credit score is important to reaching certain goals you may want to work toward with your partner,” Woroch explains. “Poor credit health can make it more difficult and expensive to rent an apartment, buy a house or car, or even qualify for a really great travel rewards card — which can add stress to your relationship.
“Talking about your credit scores may seem awkward at first but this allows you to discuss ways to improve them together.”
Begin by checking your scores online via sites like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame. Next, review your credit reports together to look for any mistakes or potential fraud. Then, look for ways to boost your scores. For instance, you can add your partner as an authorized user on your credit card or look into a credit-building loan through apps like Self, which helps you build credit while you save money at the same time.
- How much do you make?
Your parents probably impressed upon you at a young age that it’s impolite to ask someone how much money they make, but that’s not the case with your significant other. It’s certainly not a first or second date query, but if you’ve moved into a stage where you’re planning a future together, it should be a topic of conversation. Why? For one, it can put many other conversations that you’ll have — like where you might move in together — into perspective. It also may help determine the percentage of your joint expenses each of you is expected to contribute.
If one partner makes $90,000 a year while the other is barely cracking $35,000, it’s not necessarily feasible for each of you to go half on everything like rent and utilities — and that’s something that needs to be discussed before going all in.
- How much do you have in savings?
This is another “mind your business” kind of question where outsiders are concerned, but partners should be privileged to this information for a couple reasons. One, it will give you a good idea of how capable your partner is (or isn’t) at building and maintaining a nest egg, and two, it will let each of you know how much surplus you have set aside to make progressive, equity-building money moves like buying a house or investing elsewhere.
You shouldn’t expect that your partner will part with his or her savings to help fund your investment plans, however. For starters, it’s money that they’ve earned, and you’re not entitled to it. Ideally, you’ll be a cohesive unit in terms of how to combine savings for the benefit of you both, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a requirement. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, you may need to rethink the relationship altogether.
- What are your/our financial goals?
An excellent way to gauge if you’re headed in the same direction as a couple is to discuss your financial goals. Talk about what you each want to achieve in the short- and long-term with your individual or joint money.
Are you interested in entrepreneurship, and will you need start-up cash? Does your partner plan to further their education? Do you want to see the world and, as such, put all your savings into a travel fund for the time being? Is a big wedding in your future?
These are all relevant goals that will require cash, but each partner not only needs to be aware of them but also allowed to have an opinion on them as far as their own finances and financial goals are concerned.
- What are your thoughts around having kids?
For same-sex couples, especially male partners who are biologically incapable of carrying a child, the road to becoming parents can be long, hard and expensive.
These obstacles are of minor consequence to those whose major life goal it is to become a parent, and they’re committed to doing whatever it takes. That in mind, the obvious first question you need to ask yourself — and then your partner — is: Do I/you/we want to have kids?
If you’re both in agreement that you want to become parents, the next focus will become the method and the cost. No matter which way you plan it this will be a huge financial undertaking, both during the process — whether it be adoption, surrogacy, or another approach —– and after the child arrives. Sacrifices will need to me made in your existing budget, and you both need to be prepared for that.
- What will happen if you die?
No one wants to think or talk about death, but it can happen at any time. Without certain legal documents or financial plans set in place, things can become very stressful, confusing and complicated for loved ones — especially in an unmarried queer relationship.
A life insurance plan can cover mortgage payments and bills, funeral arrangements and possibly even pay for your kids’ college educations, all of which can ease some stress your spouse and children will be experiencing.
Creating an estate plan also ensures your assets are managed and distributed to your wishes. Plus, it includes who will care for your kids or pets if something happens to either or both you and your partner.
“Setting up an estate plan and buying life insurance is easier than ever to do online these days,” Woroch explains. “For instance, TrustAndWill.com makes it easy and affordable to create an estate plan in minutes. You can create a will in 10 minutes for $69 or a trust in 15 minutes for $399, including step-by-step instructions and live chat support. Meanwhile, Ladder Life Insurance promises to have you set up with a plan within five minutes without having to deal with an agent or pay annual policy fees.”
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He’s currently nomading across the country in his van, seeking queer excitement everywhere he roams. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels