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BMO Harris Bank Financial Tip of the Week: What's Your Number?

CHICAGO, IL -- (Marketwire) -- 02/07/13 -- As part of BMO Harris Bank's ongoing commitment to financial literacy and Making Money Make Sense, BMO Harris is providing weekly financial tips. This week's tip suggests you get to know your partner's financial background before getting serious.

In most circles, asking your new love interest about their finances is considered a major faux pas. Although some numbers are off limits, there are some you need to know if you're considering getting serious with your partner.

To set goals for the future, you need to know where the other person's finances are now. Understanding each other's situation will ultimately help both partners make better financial decisions.

BMO Harris Bank suggests gaining insight into your partner's saving and spending habits by learning these four key financial numbers:

Credit Score - Your score is in many ways, equivalent to a financial report card. A higher score demonstrates fiscal responsibility and means you're more likely to be approved for loans and qualify for lower interest rates. If you plan to someday buy a car or home together, it's important your partner has a good or excellent credit score so you can obtain the best rates.

Debt Owed - While student loans are probably not a deal breaker, a lot of credit card debt might raise a red flag. That's because it may signify financial instability or problems with handling money. And don't forget: if you marry your partner, his or her debt will also become your debt.

Net Worth - This figure is the value of everything you have, minus what you owe. If your partner is just starting out, he or she may have a negative net worth if there's student and/or auto loans or credit card debt. In this case, it's important to also evaluate savings rate to get a better idea of his or her overall financial picture.

Savings - It's a good sign if your partner is investing in a work-sponsored 401(k) plan, individual retirement account and putting away 10 percent of his or her pay check in a savings account. Even better if he or she has an emergency fund containing three to six months of living expenses.

Put yourself in a comfortable place and get started with helpful steps.

The Learning Center is brought to you by BMO Harris Bank, WGN, CLTV, WGN AM 1070, Chicago Tribune, RedEye and Hoy.

About BMO Harris Bank

Based in Chicago, BMO Harris Bank N.A. provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank(SM) is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with 1,600 branches, and a retail deposit base of approximately $180 billion.

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