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30 Money Questions to Ask Your Fiance BEFORE Marriage

30 Money Questions to Ask Your Fiance BEFORE Marriage

You’ve booked the reception, you’ve tasted the cake, you bought the killer dress, but there’s one thing you may not have done yet: talk about money!

Don’t worry—it’s not too late, and you won’t have to call the band and cancel. With this ultimate guide full of important money questions, you and your fiance can talk about every financial detail so you’re cool, confident, and financially prepared for your big day.

1. How much debt do you have? This is probably the most important question you can ask a future spouse.

2. What is the max I can spend before I have to consult the other person? This will help prevent arguments about overspending in the future.

3. How much are we willing to spend on our parents if they get sick? It’s hard to quantify this amount, so this question is just more about acknowledging that this type of issue might come up.

4. How much will we spend to get fertility treatments or adopt if we have trouble conceiving? Take this time to look up the costs for both of those things just so you are aware in the future.

5. Who will be in charge of paying the bills? This is really important. My tip is to have one person handle day to day finances and the other person handle long term investments.

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6. Who will be in charge of investing in our future? Really, both of you should be involved in investing in your future, but have one person be in charge of planning family meetings to talk about it.

7. How will we choose stocks if we want to buy some? Have you ever purchased stocks or mutual funds? Take some time to learn about them now while you are young.

8. How much do you think vacations should cost? Even if you have been dating for a long time, sometimes people have different visions of what they hope vacations will be like after they get married.

9. Did you take out student loans? This one is self explanatory.

10. If so, how much? This one is more important. If one of you is currently in school and you don’t know how much you have borrowed, go to your financial aid office or your credit report and find out today.

11. Have you ever declared bankruptcy? Hopefully you would have told your fiance this by now, but if you haven’t, they deserve to know.

12. Would you want to declare bankruptcy if we found ourselves in a tough spot? I hope you never have to face this tough decision, but talk about what might happen if you get to that point or even better, talk about how to prevent this.

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13. Do you want to pay for more education in the future? It’s good to know if your future spouse has always wanted to go back to school, so you know it might be a potential cost in the future.

14. Do your parents pay for any of your current bills? If they do, will they be continuing to help you in the future?

15. Would you accept money from parents as help after we get married? Some spouses don’t like receiving outside help, so be sure to address this.

16. Do you currently owe money to any friends? If so, try to pay them back as soon as possible.

17. Do you prefer generic or name brand goods? This will help you learn about each other’s spending habits.

18. Do you like paying for things with cash or credit? If you pay with credit, do you always pay it off at the end of the month?

19. Do you have any money currently saved? I know the wedding is expensive, but if not, try to put aside just $50-$100 a month to get the savings account started.

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20. Do you save money at the beginning or the end of the month? Try to save at the beginning. If you wait to save what is left over, there is often nothing left.

21. Do you participate in your company’s 401k match? If your company does not offer one, are you saving for retirement in another way, like in an IRA?

22. Do you max out your retirement accounts every year? If not, try to decide how you will be able to start doing so this year or next year.

23. How do you like to spend your “fun money”? On cars, shoes, purses, or pitchers of beer?

24. How much do you want to save for an emergency? Most experts recommend starting with a $1,000 buffer and then adding to it until you can cover 6 months of expenses.

25. How many kids do you want to have? You might have discussed about this already, but look up the financial costs of having children and talk about it.

26. Do you plan on paying for our children’s college education? If so, try to start saving when they are born.

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27. Do you want our kids to go to public or private school? This is important to know, since it will affect your cash flow in the future.

28. Would you help your siblings financially if they needed it? And, would you expect them to pay you back?

29. Would you rather invest in a house, or invest in experiences, like traveling? This is a really good question to help determine your priorities.

30. Would you seek financial counseling if we decide we need it? It’s always good to know that your spouse is willing to get help if money issues come up in the future.

If you and your fiance can sit down and go through the questions above, you will already be light years ahead of many couples who are about to tie the knot. Remember that finances are the number one thing that couples argue about, so if you can combat many of these issues ahead of time, you are doing a great service to your marriage.

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Catherine Alford

Catherine is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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