MONEY Love and Money

5 Money Discussions You Need to Have With Your Spouse Right Now

If you and your spouse haven't yet answered these important questions, you should. Your financial life depends upon it.

This article was originally published on AllYou.com.

Couples with the best shot at marital success keep the lines of communication open—even when it means tackling a tough subject. Here are five difficult conversations all married couples should have.

1. How can we resolve different spending habits?

If you are not on the same page as your spouse with daily money decisions, you probably will not be in sync when it comes to big financial decisions. Even worse, when partners cannot agree, they might engage in financial infidelity, which ranges from occasionally hiding a shopping bag in the back of a closet to more serious offenses such as keeping a secret credit card. The three keys to a financial partnership are compromise, transparency and understanding. It’s not uncommon to look at money in a different light than your husband does. In fact, many people wind up marrying their “money opposite.” It’s important to identify your money personality and your spouse’s so you can address your differences head-on.

2. Could we care for elderly parents?
More than 65 million Americans are family caregivers. The cost of a parent’s assisted-living care averages $3,550 per month, according to the 2012 MetLife market survey. First and foremost, talk with your parents to determine what they desire. Chances are they will want to live independently for as long as possible. Hold a family summit and discuss their wishes, as well as backup options, with siblings and spouses. For instance, is it possible to rotate caregiving among your siblings? Keep in mind each family’s income and flexibility, as well as space issues.

3. What are our retirement goals?
If you and your spouse haven’t discussed retirement, you might not have much of a nest egg, or your visions of how you expect to spend your senior years might vary greatly. According to a 2012 survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 27 percent of employed people never talk about their retirement plans with family or friends. Whatever your goals, plan together.

4. Who would be our children’s guardian?
Drafting a will can give you the opportunity to designate a legal guardian for your children. If you don’t and something happens to you and your spouse, a judge will appoint someone—and it might not be the same choice you would have made.

5. What are our wishes for end-of-life care?
Well-publicized disputes such as the Terri Schiavo case illustrate the importance of designating someone to make health-care decisions if you cannot make them yourself. Many couples avoid this talk because it’s unpleasant, but it’s crucial to discuss the quality of life you would want should one of you be incapacitated. Whatever your wishes, talk them out and declare them in a living will in order to avoid legal battles between family members.

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