If you’re planning on settling down with your partner, you’ve probably already had a a generic conversation about money. But, how much do you really know about your partner’s finances?
Do you, for instance, know what your partner’s credit score is?
If you don’t, money expert Suze Orman says you have no business getting married yet.
“Before you ever say I do, you better know your spouse… their credit report, you better be looking at their financial habits,” Orman warned in a podcast with Money magazine.
She says that while you might pick up subtle red flags around how your partner treats money like overspending on shoes or sporting activities, you can only get a clear bigger picture about their finances when you sit down together and go through each other’s credit history.
READ MORE: Dealing with sexually transmitted debt
“If somebody has a bad credit score and a lot of late payments, I would get rid of that person so fast, unless there was a good reason why… they got sick, they were in an accident, they didn’t have any insurance, a second divorce, but they better be willing to tell you about it and you shouldn’t even have to ask them about it,” Orman said.
“They should be telling you: ‘Sweetheart, I just wanted to tell you right now I’m a total financial mess, here’s the reason why.'”
She warns that if your partner doesn’t have a good reason for their financial mess the reality of the situation is that it will very likely become your financial mess to clean up. “I guarantee you, financial abuse will start to happen and there will go the relationship,” she says.
This is exactly how sexually transmitted debt – most prevalent among women – occurs.
Before moving in with your partner or merging your finances, it’s important to confront financial skeletons.
This, says Melissa Browne, author of Unf**k Your Finances (self-published), will enable both parties to get a solid understanding of what they are signing up for and will minimise the likelihood of unpleasant surprises down the road.
READ MORE: How to improve your credit score
Be careful of signing documents you haven’t interrogated thoroughly.
“You may be told it’s not a big deal to guarantee a loan or become a company director for a business, but the ramifications if your partner can’t pay or the company is late lodging or paying its debts, can be life-changing. Ignorance or the argument that you were too trusting or didn’t understand what you were signing, is simply not an excuse that will get you out of the debt,” says Browne.
If you’re going to set up a joint-account, make sure that the account requires both of your signatures for approval on any transactions made. This way, purchases or overdraft facilities can’t be taken out with your knowledge.
“Often we focus entirely on the sexual side of a relationship because it can be the most fun, but it’s money issues that can cause the most lasting damage. By choosing to be purposeful about money, couples can not only avoid sexually transmitted debts but can create strong relationships where money isn’t something dirty or awkward but is just another thing that is talked about,” Browne advises.