Creating a Questionnaire Helped Me And My Boyfriend Talk About Money
My boyfriend and I just recently acknowledged our two-and-a-half year anniversary. During all of that time we’ve been making it work even though we are long-distance.
Although he’s comfortable that I’ve written about our money, we’ve never actually talked about money. This is definitely not ideal since we plan on moving in together as soon as he finds a job in the city. I’ve been reading so much about finances lately that it pushed me to have “the talk.” But how should we go about it?
I tried bringing up the topic in conversation and failed. I didn’t get around to it until close to midnight because we were both busy, we weren’t communicating properly, and it ended with both of us feeling frustrated. We weren’t completely discouraged, and I decided to do things very differently for our second attempt of trying to open the conversation.
Since we see each other only once a month, we have to have some serious talks miles apart. I decided to make a questionnaire for both us to fill out separately, then we’d go over it on FaceTime; this allowed us to keep the conversation focused, optimistic, and organized. I kept the questions to things that are relevant to our current situation.
We’re young, just starting our careers, and don’t have that much money. Here are the 20 questions I came up with.
1. What is the most important thing for you to save for currently (travel, moving, building emergency savings, etc.)?
2. Are you for or against opening a joint bank account once we are moved into together? Why or why not?
3. Ideally how much would you have saved to move?
4. Are you willing to compensate for the other if they haven’t saved enough? Why or why not?
5. What are your career goals?
6. What is your definition of success?
7. Where would you like to be in five years?
8. Where would you like to be in ten years?
9. What non-necessity is the most important for you to have a budget for?
10. After moving in together do you think it’s important that we talk about “big purchases?” If so how much do you consider being a big purchase?
11. Are you willing to support the other if he/she chooses to go back to school?
12. Do you want kids? If so how many?
13. Do you track your spending? If so how?
14. Are you open to joint tracking after moving in together? Why or why not?
15. Are you open to combining finances without getting married? Why or why not?
16. Do you see yourself ever getting married?
17. Do you see yourself ever getting a domestic partnership?
18. How often should we review our goals (both short- and long-term)?
19. What do you expect from the other to help you reach your goals?
20. After moving in together, what is the backup plan in case one of us becomes unemployed?
Some simple questions like “what are your career goals” were warm up questions. There were some surprises. For example, I was prepared for him to say that we should only review our goals maybe once every few months so I wrote down once every six months. He, however, said he wanted to do it once a week! When the subject of marriage came up (something he used to be very against), he said he had no problem getting married. It’s the expensive wedding, he’s staunchly against.
We did agree that we should talk about big purchases together, and anything over $50 on our currently salaries is labeled as that. Our definition of success aligned perfectly: success is when you don’t have to make decisions solely based on money. Although we both currently track money very differently, we agreed it should be done and jointly if we have a common goal like a vacation coming up.
Going over our answers partially felt like a business meeting, but it also made me feel more secure and in love. I’m the weird, practical sort so knowing that we both view our future more in a similar light honestly made me swoon.
The last time he visited, I decided to bring up job hunting and saving once again. I have officially saved the $5,000, which is my half of moving money. My next goal is to save to start a mutual fund. He is still working on finding a balance between saving money and getting experience, which is important since he never got to do an internship during college. The conversation went well so now we know we don’t always need a list of questions to civilly talk about money.
There’s hope for us still!
Photo: Nana B. Agyei