11 Critical Money Topics
Couples Must Discuss

By Merra Lee Moffitt, AWMA CMFC, CFP®, AIF®

If you want a lifetime of reaching your goals and having choice in your time, money, and talents; then you must talk about these 11 financial topics before getting married.  Even if you’re already married, it’s not too late. There is generally no right or wrong answer.  In talking about money, you’ll be sharing your goals, dreams, and fears. Having a frank, open dialogue will not only take you to a new level of intimacy, but also build a lifelong partnership.

  1. Who owns what. Your current car is likely in your own name. But after you’re married, will your next car be held in joint name or just one name? That house you want to buy later most likely needs to be in both names.
  2. How much will each contribute. Most couples have unequal paychecks.  Talk about how much each will contribute proportionally towards rent (or mortgage), food, electric, Internet, etc.
  3. Who pays the bills? Which of you will have the responsibility of writing the checks, setting up AutoPay, and balancing the accounts? Will each person pay specific bills, will you take turns, or will one person take on the job? Since paying the bills does not make you a dictator on how the money is spent, how will you talk about those surprise, or even secret, purchases?
  4. Keeping separate checking accounts. The mechanics of what accounts you set up isn’t the issue. Many couples in successful marriages have separate checking accounts and many have only joint accounts.
  5. What will you save for?  If one of you takes time off work for education, children, or job loss, where will the money come from for that person’s family contribution?  Will you have an emergency fund? How much will you set aside for buying a house? What about retirement? How will you allocate your monthly dollars to each goal?
  6. When can you afford kids?  Okay, kids are adorable and one of the main reasons we exist on this planet.  But how you’ll handle the cost of kids and the timing of starting your family plays a major role in whether parenthood will be a joyous experience or a stressful one.
  7. What vacations will you take? Bali or Ocean City?  Will you save for them or just load up your credit card and hope to pay afterwards?
  8. How will you handle debt?  What debts do you already have? When will they be done?  What will you do with that monthly amount after payments cease? Put it toward one of your goals perhaps?
  9. Financial notions from your family.  Each of you has a family with its own money baggage. Were you overindulged? Are your parents struggling? Do they fight about money? What will you two do differently?
  10. New wills new ways.  Whenever you have anything of value, you need a will. If you die unexpectedly, you want your wishes to be carried out.
  11. Protecting your shared dreams.  How will you provide for your partner in the event of your death? What if you own a house that needs both salaries to afford? What if you have kids; how will one person feed, clothe, house and complete their education?


The real issue is whether or not the two of you can talk calmly and practically about money, saving, spending, and debt; not the answers. If your future spouse doesn’t want to talk about money, or doesn’t think talking about money is important, postpone your wedding until this issue is solved.  If you are already married, ask for help. Learning to talk about these 11 critical financial issues is a key component of marriage and an opportunity for sharing, compassion, and partnership.



23 Tiny, Easy Tips to Use at Networking Events
By: Merra Lee Moffitt

Okay – you’re at a networking event, now what?

1. Come early – the 15 minutes before the event are where the ice gets broken. The initial conversations that help people get comfortable are where stories are told and initial impressions made. I remember Sean showing me the website about how to make
cheese (honestly, before that I couldn’t remember his name.)

2. Wear something that’s a conversation starter – it makes it easier for the other person to walk over and make a friendly comment to break the ice.

3. Show up often – If it’s the third time we’ve met, now I can ask something from
last time. Secretly, the first time I was overwhelmed from meeting too many new
people and you got lost in the overload. Please don’t hate me.

4. Act like the host – There is someone in the room who doesn’t know anyone and might feel uncomfortable. Note, they’re standing by themselves. Make their day by introducing them to someone friendly, has something in common, or might be a good business contact.

5. Say their name – After they’ve introduced themselves, use their name. “It’s nice to meet you Sean”. People feel good when they hear their name and chances are you’ll remember their name later.

6. Smile – It makes the other person more comfortable, and you too.

7. Meet people more, not more people – Don’t look around the room for the ‘next’ person you need to talk to. When I’m talking to you, you’re the only person in the room.

8. You’re NOT working the room – You are connecting with people building trust, relationships, and connections.

9. Get people to talk – ask them questions like, “What do you love/enjoy most about what you do?”

10. Listen, no really – ask questions you really want to know the answer to, “What
do you see as the coming trends in your industry?”

11. Treat each business card you receive like it’s an introduction – Read it, comment on it. Make sure it doesn’t get lost. Give yours only after it’s appropriate.

12. Remember something for next time – It’s okay to write it on the card. We all know that committed, busy, successful people have systems.

13. Give a compliment – be sincere; it will make their day.

14. Share a story not a sales pitch – An interesting, unique story can be more memorable than your 30-second

15. Give before getting – Ask, “How would I know if I ran into your ideal client or

16. Exit gracefully – “Well, I don’t want to take up all your time. I’m sure you have
other people you want to talk to and so do I. I’d like to continue our conversation, so
why don’t we plan to get together? I’ll call you next week.”

17. Stay late – the best conversations happen after the event, that’s where you get past ‘small talk’ and can follow up on something they said.

18. Give generously of your time – We remember people who’ve helped us. Be
someone helpful.

19. Be trustworthy – Little things like showing up, being happy, talking to people, and being consistent communicates trust.

20. Touch them later – a nice-to-meet you card, a quick voicemail, an article about
what you’ve discussed can make you likable.

21. Ignore naysayers – That little voice inside that says “no one will call me so what’s the use” is that same voice that doesn’t want you to be successful. We all have that and some of us have real people saying it too. Unless they are successful, busy people in your own field and stage of development, ignore them.

22. Have faith – Success is the result of small efforts repeated. No one came here today waiting to write you a check.

23. Keep improving – Each event, be a little more sincere, a little more attentive, a little better follow up. You’ll be amazed at your skills by this time next year.

These tiny steps can help make your networking events more enjoyable. You’ll get more people that you know, like, and trust so you can be a better resource to you. And yes, more people will know, like, and trust you too.

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