This is an awkward conversation and one that’s normally avoided; however, it’s essential to have, financial windfall or not. If you don’t understand every part of a person – including his or her financial situation, then you don’t really know him or her. You’re with an abstraction you’ve created in your mind. Make sure you know who’s lying next to you. Here are some good places to start:
- What role did money play in his or her family growing up?
- Was it ever used as a way of showing affection or punishment?
- Did he or she grow up in financial abundance? Scarcity?
- Was money a point of contention between family members?
- Is he or she currently in debt? If so, how did it happen and what attempts is he or she making to pay it back?
Present – Current Relationship with Money
- What is his or her current relationship with money? (You should have a pretty good idea of this already!)
- Does he or she spend? Save? Waste?
- Is he or she generous?
- Does he or she support family members?
- Does he or she have spending issues, or can he or she live within his or her means?
- Does he or she have any expensive habits? Online shopping? Gambling?
The Future – Expectations and Entitlements
- What financial role is each person supposed to fulfill in a relationship?
- What contributions, if any, will he or she make?
- What if things don’t work out and you break up? What does he or she feel is deserved?
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. You’re gathering information, but know ahead of time what you’re comfortable with and where you stand. Be prepared to share your answers and opinions. Have the conversation, and get it on the table. Make sure your values, goals, and expectations are aligned at the beginning rather than down the road when it’s more difficult to manage. Know every part of who you’re with.