Planning for your own future can be tough, but planning for someone else’s as well can add an additional layer of difficulty. After marriage, couples should sit down together to discuss their current financial situations, assess their life goals — as well as their financial goals — and determine how to best plan for the future.
Along with consulting an advisor, here are five easy ways to start planning with your partner, and start laying the groundwork for a lifetime of financial stability.
The way you think about money (and saving it) is largely determined by your own, unique life experiences, like a finance class you might have taken or the way your parents first explained money to you. As a result, there’s no way to tell someone’s attitude toward money without a frank conversation.
According to Catherine Robson, principal at Affinity Private, understanding the way you and your partner think about money is of paramount importance: “Most of us acquire our money beliefs from our parents as children, and it’s easy to make the assumption that everyone believes the same things that you do.” Robson also said that of the financial conflicts that arise in a marriage, disputes over resources are less common than disputes over how resources should be managed.
Where do you want to live? Where do you see your career going? Are you planning on having kids? How many? Where will they be schooled?
Goal setting and life planning are keys to a successful marriage. What’s more, making sure that you and your partner understand each other’s goals will help you plan your finances accordingly. If you know your career will take you overseas, you should probably hold off on purchasing a house. If both of you are planning on working after you have kids, you should probably factor in the cost of a caregiver. Just like aligning your fundamental beliefs on money, aligning your goals will help prevent conflicts.
As a married couple, your assets are now linked. Because of that, most newlyweds start joint spending — that is, splitting payments on the home, even using the same bank account for bills and purchases. However, before you do so, you and your partner should talk about what joint spending means.
Specifically, even though a joint account amplifies your collective buying power, it isn’t all discretionary income that can be spent like mad. Pippa Elliott, a certified financial planner at Momentum Planning, encourages couple to work together to outline all required monthly purchases first, then divvy up how the remainder can be spent or saved. Your plan for joint saving — for a vacation, a future home, retirement — is almost as important as your plan for joint spending.
In the same way that you’ll plan for future purchases, talk with you partner about financial commitments you already have. Are you paying off a home loan? Do you have credit card debt? Are you paying child support? Existing responsibilities impact how much money you’ll be able to spend and save as a couple, so be upfront and honest about the things that get taken out of your joint spending accounts.
Men and women have different strengths when it comes to managing money: Men are quick to action and relish control of household finances, while women are more reserved and calculating. That’s why, when making major financial decisions, you should leverage both of your strengths to ensure the best outcome.