20 Questions to Ask your Significant Other About Money

by J. Money -

rock couple

If you’re on this blog you’ve probably discussed a lot of this stuff with your significant other already, but on the off chance you haven’t – or need a good push! – here’s a list of 20 great questions to talk about the next time you guys are in “the mood.”

And bonus points if you actually go over them while “in the nude!” (Heyo!)

They come from a friend of mine who’s launching a new app (Zeta) to help couples manage their money better, and you can read the full article I found these from via Refinery29: The 20 Money Questions You Should Ask Your S.O.

You’ll come away knowing a LOT more about your partner going over these, and they’re broken into three core sections: the past, the present, and my favorite – the future.

Questions are pasted below, along with my own answers because of course I can’t help myself from participating ;) Now time to get down to your skivvies!

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Section I: The Past

“With money, the past does predict the future. Understanding each others’ money histories let’s you build empathy for each other and identify experiences that impacted your outlook on money.”

#1. What’s your first money memory?

Probably going to yard sales with my mom and trying to see how much I can get for a dollar (her dollar) ;) In fact, just this weekend she was telling me how easy it was for me to spend money growing up, but the second she had me spend my *own*, all of a sudden I couldn’t find anything I wanted, haha… Sounds about right!

#2. Did you know how much your parents earned when you were a child?

Nope – had no idea. I remember thinking we must be pretty poor though as I wasn’t ever allowed to get Nike Air Jordans like all my friends had… It was Payless, and Payless only, for us kids growing up – the worst!

#3. Did your family have a budget? How did you feel about it?

They 100% had a budget. Probably 10 of them! I never knew what was on them, or how much they allotted in each section, but being on a single military salary for our family of 5 they def. had to stretch their dollars far. Something I could appreciate much more these days, but certainly not back then (see: Nike Air Jordans)

#4. Did you get an allowance as a child? What did you do with it?

Yup! $1.00 a week for yearrrrrrs – also the worst! Haha… Though it did creep up to $2.00/week eventually until we were able to go out and earn money on our own (in which we were then cut off). I spent it all on baseball cards and going to the movies/bowling/mall/etc back in the day with friends.

One time I tried saving up for a Nintendo Game Boy, but after taking about a billion months to reach it I no longer wanted to spend the money anymore because it took forever to save! And it was at that point when I realized the true value of a dollar, but also that I was actually *able* to save up so much if I really tried hard enough. I’d like to say that was the turning point of my finances, but sadly it took another decade or so to really catch on ;)

original game boy

(The original from back in the day!! Photo by Naíra Dias)

#5. Did your parents fight about money?

Nope. I don’t remember a single time they ever fought, although I’m sure they did every now and then behind closed doors (they were great at not bickering in front of us). Later I found out my dad had a separate stash that he was allowed to use on whatever he wanted to help keep the peace between them, haha… He loved spending money on more quality shoes/electronics/etc, whereas my mom was mainly concerned about the price tag :) This has since been one of my favorite tips to tell people, and one I implemented myself when first starting out in our marriage.

#6. What money habits did your parents practice? How did you feel about those habits?

They were/are SUPER frugal, eventually allowing them to retire early’ish while still living happy comfortable lives. My mom will actually celebrate her 3rd year being retired this fall, and the basis for it was all that frugality over the years! Remember our one-on-one interview with her the day she retired? –> The Last Day My Mom Will Ever Work :) I didn’t like the frugality back then (other than going to yard sales and thrift stores all the time – super fun!), but just like everything else I now “get it” and fully appreciate it.

Section II: The Present

“The future is about understanding how your money past has manifested itself today. It’s about understanding why you make the decisions you do and less about finding each others balance sheets (though you’re welcome to share those if you’re ready).”

#7. What drives your financial decisions?

Freedom…. from being forced to do stuff I don’t want to do. Also security for my family, especially now that we have three precious kids :)

#8. If you won $1 million today, what would you do with the money?

Get ready for the most boring answer ever! Pay taxes on it and then throw the rest into investments (VTSAX), haha… In other words, it literally wouldn’t change a thing :) Other than pushing us into financial freedom which of course would be more than pleasing. Had you asked my 21 year old self this question, however, you would have gotten a much more juicier answer :)

#9. What’s one money-habit that you admire about me? (I.e. your significant other)

That she doesn’t need to spend money to be happy. All she cares about is that we’re all safe and healthy and that we never have to worry about money in our lives. I have to remind her that we’re doing just fine and to actually spend some on herself every now and then, but by and large she’d be happy if she never had to think about money in her life at all… Which works well since I love talking and thinking about it! :)

#10. If I (your significant other) lost $100 on something and didn’t tell you, would you be upset with me? How about $1,000?

My wife wouldn’t be able to hide it as it would piss her off way too much to not let it show, haha, but if she did hide $100 it probably wouldn’t bother me at all. $1,000 on the other hand would, not in losing the money itself, but because I’d think she was up to something shady! And it would break our rule of having to talk the purchase over since we usually do so for things that are $100 and up.

#11. What scares you about money?

Losing it all! In some freak health issue or legal troubles or something… A problem that’s only recently crept in since actually *having* money, haha… Now the plus side is that we’d be able to earn it all back over time since we now know what we’re doing, but it would still suck to have to start back from scratch again, especially now that I’m out of Hustle Mode and into Daddy Mode. So fingers crossed this never happens to any of us!

#12. What do you wish you knew more about?

Estate planning. But after posting about it last week, we’re already on our way to understanding more! Y’all passed over a ton of great stuff to look over (and some healthy tough love as well!), and now we’ve begun the process of finding the right person to work with and getting this puppy started… I’m not any more excited about any of it, but it’s definitely helped talking about it out loud for sure :) So thanks!

#13. What would it take for you to feel happy about money?

Already there baby, woo! Just get me to Virginia now and I will be fully content!

virginia is for beer lovers

#14. What does having money mean to you?

I’ll go with “freedom” again on this one. Without money your options are minimal, but with money they expand like crazy! Whether with jobs, desires, hobbies, lifestyles, etc. You don’t need to activate all the options, but just knowing that you HAVE THEM is an amazing feeling in itself.

#15. What are you comfortable telling about your money? Any debts that are important to know?

Haha… it’s all laid out there for the world to see already – nothing hiding with this guy’s wallet! ;)

Section III: The Future

“Knowing what we’re working towards helps us build a shared vision and chip away at it together. No matter if your current situation is good or bad, the future has the ability to inspire and motivate us to reach our goals.”

#16. What are you working towards? What dreams do you have (1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years)?

Financial Freedom – i.e. having enough money to not have to work anymore if either of us choose not to!

  • 1 year dream: move back to my beloved Virginia!
  • 5 year dream: hit financial freedom
  • 10 year dream: haven’t thought that far?
  • 20 year dream: definitely haven’t thought that far :)

#17. What do you want to leave behind (for kids or others)?

This is something I think about on a daily basis. I of course want my family to be comfortable once I’m long gone and teach them everything I know to be of importance, but the whole *legacy* stuff in a bigger, broader sense, I have yet to put my finger on… I feel like I have the potential to make a much greater impact than I’m doing right now, but what *exactly* that is I’m still on the hunt for. It’s like having a car full of gas but just sitting there revving the engine waiting to find the direction to go in! So for now I just keep doing my thing and trying to be the best daddy and blogger I can be, and then hopefully once the epiphany hits I can slam my foot down on that pedal and GO :)

#18. Do you expect to get any inheritance from your family?

No – I don’t ever expect anything in life, so when ever/if ever that day comes I’ll just handle it from there. You already know what I’ll do with any extra money that comes my way anyways, haha… I always have a plan for money, but I never plan on getting any! (See what I did there??)

#19. What would you want to happen to your money if you died?

To go to my wife, and then down to my kids. And then for my wife to prepay my hosting/domain services for 100 years so this blog continues to live on without me :)

#20. Do you expect to support your parents or other loved ones in the future?

Never thought about before?! I guess I never expect anything to happen similar to the inheritance question, but I’d def. jump in and help however I can if that fateful day ever did come… I joke about moving back in with my parents one day to save money, but maybe one day they’ll actually be moving in with us? Which is fine as far as I’m concerned, after all they MADE ME and brought me into this world!! Haha… It’s the least I can do!

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So there you have it! 20 questions to ask your lover if you need some good starting points… Hopefully you’ve already talked about a lot of this stuff, but if not – it’s a damn good day to start!

And if you like this sorta stuff and want to learn/find more, get on the waiting list for the Zeta app that’ll be dropping soon –> Zetahelp.com. It’ll be free, and they’ve also started a podcast around couple money as well: The Money Date Podcast

And no, I’m not getting paid anything to share this today :) Just love what they’re about and know we can use as many good tools as we can find! Managing money for ourselves is one thing, but mixing in an entirely new person or family is a whole other, haha… So hopefully you find this stuff helpful.

Back again on Wednesday for another titillating post!

Who knows what we’ll be getting into next… I never do :)

Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ms. Frugal Asian Finance July 30, 2018 at 7:49 am

Wow these questions are pretty thorough. Hubby and I did talk about money and our background when we first stated dating.

It was more like us telling each other stories than asking and answering these questions directly. I just wanted to make sure I’d be with a guy who was frugal but not cheap hehe.

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2 J. Money July 30, 2018 at 9:28 am

Haha…. good call :)

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3 BC Kowalski July 30, 2018 at 12:49 pm

I really like this approach – as a single person navigating the dating field, I struggle with this since while I don’t expect someone to match my frugality perfectly, I know that I couldn’t be with someone who isn’t at least somewhat money-conscious. I’ve dated some women who were in debt up to their eyeballs – not unexpected when I was dating in my 20s, but at this point in my late 30s I know I need someone relatively on the same page as me. So I really like your idea of telling stories – I think that’s how it plays out with me too. Asking questions directly can feel like an interrogation in a dating context.

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4 Lily | The Frugal Gene July 30, 2018 at 8:43 am

I’m going to be that person pulling out the Zeta app on my date, “what was your first money memory?” Lol! How cute!

Your parents sound like my husband’s parents. They were very frugal but they eventually loosened up. And they’re comfortably early retired-ish.

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5 J. Money July 30, 2018 at 9:34 am

Awesome! Especially the loosening up part later :) Once you’ve “made it” I’d hope you get to enjoy the spoils more and not hoard all the $$$… I’ve noticed my parents doing the same too now – they’re either on a lake somewhere on their pontoon boat, or traveling around in their new travel camper! They’re def. enjoying their new freedom without kids or careers, haha…

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6 Paul July 30, 2018 at 8:58 am

I have no love for VA. At least, no love for NOVA, I dread any time I have to pass through there, pretty much whenever we drive to Williamsburg or anywhere in the south really… you can always count on NOVA to add at least 2 hours extra to your trip.

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7 J. Money July 30, 2018 at 9:37 am

Yeah, 95 sucks… But seeing how you’re still driving in, it means you must love VA even more knowing you have to put up w/ that traffic! Haha… And basically anywhere south of NoVa is nice and peaceful and traffic-less :) I’ll actually be heading to Charlottesville soon and can’t wait – so beautiful!

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8 Paul July 30, 2018 at 11:56 am

I’ll admit that I do like Williamsburg and some of the other tourist areas.

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9 Joe July 30, 2018 at 10:03 am

We’ve been married for 19 years and we haven’t talked about half of these. I think these would be very difficult to talk about when the relationship is new. Are people more open about money these days?
The past questions are the easiest. :)

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10 J. Money July 30, 2018 at 10:05 am

Exactly why you need the wine/nudity ;)

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11 BC Kowalski July 30, 2018 at 12:57 pm

I had a similar situation as your Gameboy incident! My parents also bought at payless, or Kmart, for our shoes, and I was treated as poor at school because of it (of course, now days I see how stupid it is to spend on designer shoes for someone to grows out of them in six months). It became a complex and I decided to save my money for a fancier pair of shoes. Finally after some Christmas money I had hit the number I was looking for and my dad took me to the store for the day after Christmas sale. I found the pair of shoes I wanted and was ready to buy them, almost on autopilot. My dad said, OK, let’s walk around and finish the other errands, and when you come back, if you still want the shoes, you may buy them. I thought of course I would, but as I wandered the rest of the stores I thought more about what else I could do with that money, and realized the shoes wouldn’t really make me happy. And then I thought about how much money I would be spending just to appease a bunch of people I really didn’t like anyway. By the time we got back to the store, I told me dad I didn’t want them. I learned a lot of lessons that day, that have carried over to today – not only the lesson that purchases won’t erase the underlying issues that make you unhappy, but that keeping up with the jonses is a lost cause and a silly thing to waste money on. I think it also taught me about independence and not worry about fitting in and doing things my own way, based on my own conclusions. All from a pair of shoes I didn’t buy!

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12 J. Money July 30, 2018 at 2:21 pm

And more so from your smart dad! What a great way to help instill a lesson without actually teaching it :) Gonna have to steal that one, haha…

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13 BC Kowalski August 1, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Yes! It’s funny because the more FI blogs I read, the more I’m reminded of things my old man told me. I ran into his old boss at an event recently, and he told me my dad had his eye on retirement the day he started. Like father, like son, I guess : )

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14 J. Money August 2, 2018 at 5:45 am

That is awesome, haha…

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15 Road2Eudemonia July 30, 2018 at 2:06 pm

While we have not sat down at one time to review with my lovely wife of 28 years, we have reviewed overall.

The past – good indication of a match when we both paid for college ourselves. Mrs. r2e 100% and me about 50%.

The present – Best thing to hear from our financial adviser – “Hey, relax a little, spend more on some fun things while you are still here.”

The future – We are at the age where questions17-20 are a reality. All of those questions need to be discussed honestly with each other and other family members. Get that estate plan moving J. Money! Also, sit down and have open and honest communications with parents and family members. These conversations will take time – don’t expect parents to open up right away. Ease into conversations and give parents, and children, time to process it.

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16 J. Money July 30, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Agreed to all! And just got off the phone with the 4th estate lawyer and think we may have found our person :) Baby steps!

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17 GreenDollarBills July 30, 2018 at 4:10 pm

Great set of questions. Probably one to add:
Do your parents know what each other earn?
I have some friends whose parents have no idea what each other earns – this is mental! If their child doesn’t realise how mental then this may not bode well if that person is your spouse. This is definitely something to talk about and get their opinion on.

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18 J. Money July 30, 2018 at 4:29 pm

Oh wow – yeah, that would be pretty wild!

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19 Zeta August 2, 2018 at 12:38 am

That’s a really good suggestion – will add to the list.

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20 QueerFI July 30, 2018 at 4:46 pm

These are tough questions and the answers to each of these could easily be turned in to a blog post. I think I’ll slowly ask my partner these questions instead of playing 20 questions!

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21 J. Money August 1, 2018 at 7:39 am

That works too :)

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22 Zeta August 2, 2018 at 12:39 am

Fair enough! You could also start with just the past – those questions feel really easy because they’re about telling each funny memories from your childhood while still being really revealing.

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23 Moriah Joy July 31, 2018 at 12:29 pm

This is such a great list! I legit just forwarded it to my husband and said “Get ready for our date night questionnaire” haha. We already know a lot about the way we handle money, but it’ll be fun to see what we don’t know about each other.

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24 J. Money August 1, 2018 at 7:39 am

YES!!! BEAUTIFUL!!

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25 Zeta August 2, 2018 at 12:41 am

You made our day! Can we use your comment in the feedback section?

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26 Michael Outar July 31, 2018 at 3:58 pm

Great post J! Hopefully no one does this as a first date questionnaire haha.

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27 J. Money August 1, 2018 at 7:42 am

Might be just a *tad* too much for the 1st one ;)

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28 Lilli July 31, 2018 at 9:24 pm

As a dinosaur here, I will start with , what is your credit score, better yet, let’s look it up together. I will show you mine if you show me yours ! 2nd question is do you owe alimony, child support, tax liens or the IRS? And perhaps have you ever filed bankruptcy ? Like Julia Roberts said ” I’m a safety girl “

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29 J. Money August 1, 2018 at 7:40 am

You had me at “I will show you mine if you show me yours!” ;)

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30 Sam August 1, 2018 at 4:44 am

I remember getting 10p (UK) per chore I did. Feeding rabbit = 10p, setting table for dinner = 10p. 60p bonus at the end of the week made it up to £2 in total. It taught me to work for money from a young age- much as I hated it at the time!

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31 J. Money August 1, 2018 at 7:48 am

Yup! Exactly why we’ll be carrying on the tradition of allowances as well, along with being able to talk about money in a more tangible way too. You can tell kids all you want about the fundamentals of managing it, but you make it *real* by attaching the lessons to money in their own hands and it makes a much more lasting impression, haha.. As evidence of my own mother telling me to save up and use my own money for that game boy! :)

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32 Lyn Alden August 3, 2018 at 1:12 pm

Question #7 is my favorite, because it’s a foundation that encompasses so many other questions.

And I have the same answer: freedom. Progression towards higher net worth, higher passive income, more choice and flexibility, etc.

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33 J. Money August 3, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Hey you! How ya been? :)

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34 Lyn Alden August 4, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Not bad!

Got married, promoted, income and net worth up, higher website traffic, can’t complain! Barely any time though to read so many good blogs though, let alone write too frequently. Biggest challenge right now is time management.

How about you? The move towards minimalism and less of a hustle-mode seems like it’s working out. My husband certainly wants me to shift in that direction!

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35 J. Money August 6, 2018 at 6:46 am

Very cool! Congrats on it all! We had our 3rd kid this summer so really just trying to adjust there and get back into some sort of routine :) My wife goes back to work today after having months off so I’m in charge of all our boys during the day! Wish me luck!!

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36 Patrice | Financial Peacock August 6, 2018 at 6:33 pm

My husband and I talk a lot about money, but haven’t gone through all these questions, especially the things about our parents. A couple others I would ask before combining finances and/or getting married would be: 1) what is your credit score and I would want to see the credit report and 2) what is the limit each person can spend before discussing it with the other person.

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37 J. Money August 7, 2018 at 5:53 am

I like that second one! I’m always encouraging people to have “do whatever you want” budgets on the side too where you can spend freely without guilt or anyone pestering you on :)

Love your blog name too btw, haha…

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