The Sex + Money Quiz
Where do you and your partner weigh in on the scale of financial compatibility?
(MONEY Magazine) - Money in marriage: For some couples it's a measure of their success at working together toward a common goal; for others it's an ugly battlefield. As our exclusive survey reveals, couples are more than twice as likely to argue about money as about sex. Yet they're also far more in sync when it comes to their financial goals and values than they believe they are. Where do you and your partner weigh in on the scale of financial compatibility? Take the quiz that follows to find out. The payoff goes beyond learning more about where your partner stands on important money issues; you'll also get a starting point for setting financial priorities, addressing unarticulated disagreements and sparking some probably overdue conversations about long-term planning. Got some paper and pencils handy? Turn the page, open the gatefold and get going.
Money Values Do you think the same way about money?
• How to Play Each question in this section calls for two answers. First, jot down your gut response to the issue or problem posed. Second, guess what you think your spouse will answer.
FINANCIAL HARMONY Couples who communicate well about money are twice as likely to rate their marriage as excellent.
1 Your beloved Aunt Ethel dies and leaves you $1,000 in her will. What do you want to do with this windfall, which, while substantial, won't exactly change your lives?
A. Spend it all on something nice. Dear Aunt Ethel would have wanted it that way. B. Spend $100 on a nice meal to remember her by, and save the rest. C. Sock away the whole shebang in your retirement account. You don't want to spend your final years like Aunt Ethel, totally dependent on Social Security benefits to keep you afloat.
2 Your son is accepted to his first choice for college: a top-ranked state school that you can actually afford. Once the bills start rolling in, how much of the total cost do you and your spouse pay?
A. All of it. You've been working all these years just to give him a leg up. You don't want him working in the dining hall to make ends meet. B. Nothing--same as your parents. Working your way through college helped give you the self-discipline you needed to get ahead. C. About half. If your kid gets a free ride, he won't value his education as much as he will if he has to dip into his own pocket.
3 As a condition for getting an allowance, a child should be required to...
A. Do chores. Kids need to learn at an early age that if you want money, you have to work for it. And that lesson should start at home. B. Work hard at school. Getting a good education should be a kid's top priority. An allowance helps a child understand the connection between school and success. C. Actually, you shouldn't attach any conditions. An allowance is a tool to teach kids how to manage money, nothing more. Anyway, you don't want your kid to expect payment for making her bed or doing anything else she should do simply because it's the right thing.
4 Everybody deserves a little freedom to make unplanned purchases, right? Imagine you'd like to buy yourself a treat: a $250 iPod Nano, perhaps, or a $400 TaylorMade r7 425 golf club. Aside from clothing that you expect to get a lot of use out of (a business suit or a winter coat, for instance), at what price is a purchase so expensive that you ought to clear it with your spouse before buying the item?
5 Now you did it. You treated yourself to a big Coach bag or a courtside seat to the NBA playoffs that was costly enough for you to seek spousal permission first. But you didn't. Now what do you do?
A. You fess up. B. You tell a white lie, saying you got a great deal on the item, and silently make amends by denying yourself the next few over-the-limit items that you really want. C. You don't let on that you bought the item. Your spouse may not even notice. D. It doesn't matter. Your spouse pulls this stunt all the time; this just evens the score.
6 Be honest now: Does the spouse who earns more in your relationship have a greater say about how money is spent?
7 When you and your spouse disagree about money, who is more likely to prevail?
8 Your trusted stockbroker, a guy who has never steered you wrong in all the years you've known him, says it's time to move half of your money from Valiant Victor's Value Fund to Gracious Gregory's Growth Fund. Assuming you're ready to give him the go-ahead, do you feel a pressing need to explain the decision to your spouse?
9 Of these five items, which two, in order of importance, are the most critical goals you and your spouse should be saving for now?
A. College for the kids B. Your retirement C. Getting rid of credit-card debt D. Taking your dream vacation or renovating to build your dream kitchen E. Having money on hand for emergencies
10 What's the most common source of money conflict between you and your spouse?
A. Overspending B. Making foolish or ill-informed investments C. Spoiling the kids D. Not making enough money (your spouse doesn't earn enough or thinks you don't) E. Not taking action toward your financial goals
BONUS Complete this sentence with one of the choices from below: "Money, at heart, is really all about..."
A. Security B. Freedom C. Pleasure D. Prestige
Money Knowledge What do you know about your money?
• How to Play For each question in this section, write down only what you think the right answer is; don't bother guessing your spouse's response. You don't need to check your financial records to come up with the answers either. Just wing it. Then turn to page 108.
1 How much money did you make last year? How much did your spouse make?
2 If you own your home, how much do you pay each month on your mortgage (and maintenance or common charges, if applicable)? If you rent, how much do you pay each month?
3 How much do you spend a week on groceries?
4 Do either of you have a pension? Where is the paperwork? Do you have survivor benefits?
5 How much money does your household owe, including your combined credit-card balances, car loans, home-equity loans and lines of credit and personal loans, but excluding your mortgage?
6 Not counting retirement plans, name all the banks and brokerage firms where you have checking, savings or investment accounts. How much money do you have in each?
7 Between workplace and individual policies, how much is your life insured for? How much is your spouse's life insured for?
8 Let's say one of you becomes incapacitated and unable to work. Do you have disability insurance? Does your spouse? Whom should you call to make a claim on your spouse's behalf?
9 Your house just burned down (so sorry). What insurance company do you call to file a claim?
10 Where is your will located? Besides your spouse, who else, if anyone, among your close friends or relatives knows the answer?
11 How much do you save each month for your kids' college education? How much should you be saving? (If the question isn't applicable, substitute saving for retirement.)
12 Name all the companies or financial institutions where you and your spouse have 401(k)s, IRAs or other retirement savings. How much money do you have in each account?
13 Do you have a financial adviser you would consult if you needed professional assistance? What is his or her name?
14 Uh-oh. The IRS called. It's time for you to review copies of your tax returns from the past three years. Where are they?
15 Add up the account balances in question 12. Given your age and your hopes for when and how you'll be able to retire, does the total amount reassure you or make you worry?
BONUS How much money would it take for you to consider yourself rich?
OPPOSING VIEWS Husbands typically report the family has 5% more in income and 10% more in wealth than wives do.
the answer key
You and your spouse have taken the quiz separately. But scoring should be a joint effort. To find out how you did:
IN PART 1
• Give yourself one point for each question to which you accurately guessed your partner's response; have your spouse do the same. (Count yourselves correct on question 4 if your dollar figures are within 10% of each other.)
• Bonus question: You get five points if you both correctly guessed each other's answers.
IN PART 2
• Give yourself two points for each question where your responses roughly match--for instance, if the dollar amounts you wrote down are within 10% of each other or you named most of the same financial service providers.
• Bonus question: Give yourself five extra points if your answers match--that is, if the dollar amounts are within 10% of each other.
Got your score? Now look below to learn what your results indicate about your financial compatibility--and what you can do to improve your communication and your chances of reaching your financial goals.
0 to 20
Ouch. Though the two of you may be living together, your understanding of each other's financial values are light-years apart. What to do? Make an appointment with a therapist--uh, a financial planner. Most likely, poor communication and resentment about unspoken money conflicts, plus a basic lack of knowledge about how much you've got and where you've got it, are derailing your attempts to get on the same financial track. A fee-only planner can act as a neutral adviser, helping you to sort out your goals and offering specific steps to achieve them. For referrals, go to napfa.org or garrettplanningnetwork.com.
21 to 40
You're on your way to marital bliss--financially, at least. You each have a good idea of how the other feels about money and how you're doing as a family, but there's room for improvement. Examine your answers to the quiz more closely to find the areas you need to work on. Was one partner more consistently off-base in guessing the other's answers? Were there one or two questions where you were shocked to find out how the other felt? Try to determine why your views are out of sync--maybe one of you lacks some pertinent information or is unduly influenced by how your parents handled money. Then work on closing the gap.
41 to 60
Congratulations! Each of you has an excellent sense of what's important to the other, and how you're doing financially. Chances are, with this kind of communication, you're already working well toward your goals. But don't rest on your laurels. Certified financial planner Gary S. Williams suggests that you sit down together at least once or twice a year to review your investments, make sure your priorities still match and that you're on track. Then go out to dinner (on Aunt Ethel?) and toast your success. You've earned it.