Studies show that regardless of a person’s income level, fights about money are among the biggest frictions in a marriage and top contributors to divorce.
People often see financial success differently; however, there are things you can do to ensure that friction is minimized so that you can spend more time doing the things you love and building a life together.
Whether you just embarked on a lifelong journey with your significant other or plan on saying your “I do’s” in the forthcoming years, below are my financial recommendations for a happier union.
COMMUNICATION ABOUT MONEY IS KEY
I’ve been in this industry for years, and yet I’m still surprised by how many people don’t discuss finances with their partners. While some simply prefer not to talk about money, others just don’t know how to go about it. It’s important to note, however, that keeping the financial lines of communication open is essential for success.
There are plenty of ways to communicate about money. For one, having an ongoing financial check-up on the calendar—whether it’s weekly, monthly or even semi-annually—is a great way to touch base and check on current fiscal affairs.
In our house, we call it a financial round table, where my wife and I sit down together and discuss our financial situation. We identify goals and get a clear sense of where we are financially and where we want to be in a month’s time or in five years. Doing so can go a long way to ensure both people are working toward the same goals and minimize any spending and savings miscommunication.
COUPLES THAT SAVE TOGETHER, STAY TOGETHER
In addition to hosting a recurring financial round table, I recommend having a budget in place and a plan for saving as a couple. Even if your idea of saving and your contributions may be different from your partner’s, putting a plan together on how to budget your expenses and save toward common goals can minimize misunderstandings and, in turn, conflicts over money.
Creating a family budget starts with aggregating your revenues and writing down every possible expense, including a line item for savings, allowing for miscellaneous items that may come up unexpectedly. It doesn’t matter if you are allocating $10 or $1,000 to savings monthly as a start—the important thing is that you’re saving and growing those contributions together.
Also, if you have big plans ahead, such as a new baby, a trip, or continued education, you can create an additional savings account with that purpose in mind. That way you won’t be dipping into your core savings and maximize the interest on those funds.
“For newly-married couples, consider combining your individual checking accounts into a joint account. Sharing a checking account will force communication between you and your new spouse. Communication will go a long way toward fostering unity in your new financial situation.” – Benjamin Brandt CFP®, A North Dakota Financial Advisor
GO MOBILE WITH YOUR MONEY
Not everyone is born with a knack for managing finances, and even those who often find themselves too busy with life to handle day-to-day money moves. The great news is, there are now a number of easy-to-use, on-the-go tools that can help with personal finances. From mobile banking to financial apps that organize your cash flow or automatically move money into your savings account, it’s no longer necessary to invest a significant amount of time and energy to understand your current financial well-being.
It’s a lot easier to ignore your personal finances then tackle them head-on, but as you start sharing your life with someone, it’s best to set yourself up for success from the beginning. Your finances are a big part of your life, and as you take that next step with your soon-to-be husband or wife, know that the more you communicate and work toward the same financial goals, the less the risk of misunderstanding and the greater chance for a happy union—personally and financially.
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