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Question #1: How much do you make?
Though it may make you cringe, you should ask him how much he makes. Don’t guess based on his firm or industry. Assumptions won’t cut it. Find out exactly how much he’s taking home every paycheck to get a sense of what his money situation is like now. He may be up for a promotion, but what if he doesn’t get it? This cuts both ways, though. You’ll both need to see how much the other is bringing in to even begin a reasonable discussion about what you can and can’t afford as a couple.
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Question #2: Got any debt?
Student loans, who doesn’t have them? But five maxed-out credit cards is another story — one he better have an explanation for. Of course you’ll want to know exactly how much he owes. But more important is the issue of whether he’s paying it down. No plan in place should be considered a billowing red flag. You don’t want your credit suffering because his has.
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Question #3: Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
Is he positioned for a promotion, or is he looking to change careers entirely? If he’s planning to go back to school, he’ll more than likely have to take out another loan. According to FinAid.org, a law school graduate is on average $80,000 in debt by the time he gets that diploma. While higher education can be worth it for career advancement, will you be the primary breadwinner while he’s hitting the books? And if you want to go back to school too, now’s the time to pipe up and discuss how you both plan on eating.
Carmen Martínez Banús
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Question #4: Are we going Dutch?
During the courtship, he treats you to dinners, movies — the works. Will that change once the ring is on your finger? Will he expect you to contribute half (or more) once you're past dating? Ask whether he envisions splitting bills or opening a joint checking account. Trust us, you don’t want a man nickel and diming your every expense. But you also don’t want to have to justify every purchase you make. Hash out financial arrangements before making any big plans.
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Question #5: How many kids?
Offspring carry a pretty hefty price tag — one you'll most certainly need to plan for. It costs more than $200,000 to raise a child to age 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That total includes: clothing, shelter, transportation, education, and food. But it doesn't even include the inevitable miscellaneous expenses: soccer gear, birthday presents, summer camp. Now that you've settled on your ideal number, pull out the calculator to see how you'll support the brood.
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