Building your life together comes with many challenges, the chief among them being money. Money can be a common sore spot or a hinge in your relationship. Money problems extend beyond spending a little too much on a shopping trip— it often comes down to dishonesty, a lack of transparency, and poor communication.
They say that money can’t buy happiness, but being open and honest with your partner about money is truly priceless. Here are our 4 best practices for developing healthy money habits for a strong, happy marriage.
1. Never keep financial secrets
Communication is key and while that applies to nearly all areas of marriage, it’s especially important when it comes to financial matters. Communication is where many couples fall apart — it’s the foundation of every part of your relationship.
Sit down as a couple and create a monthly budget so it’s clear what money goes where. While an extra coffee once a week may not exactly break the bank, a budget can help set expectations for short and long-term spending.
Creating a budget together opens up the conversation about what is important to each of you financially and can eliminate any confusion about where your money is going. It’s vital to always be open, honest, and transparent about financial matters. That includes spending, saving, goal-setting, and more.
Open communication and transparency establish trust which is key to moving forward in a successful personal and financial partnership. Say “I do” to teamwork and overcome financial hardships and succeed together.
2. Create a list of shared goals
It’s vital to understand what’s important to each person. What do you want your retirement plan to look like? Where will you live when you’re retired? Do you want to work or volunteer? Have you planned for healthcare? Do you have a safety net? What are your legacy goals? These are questions you may or may not know the answer to but are important to have conversations about.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to embark on a European adventure, buy a vacation home on the beach, invest in a 529 plan for your grandchildren, or give generously to your favorite charitable organizations. These are all financial undertakings that require extensive communication and planning and can greatly impact your current savings and spending strategies.
Once the big questions are answered, the real question becomes: How can you build and sustain this vision together? This is where outside counsel from a financial advisor can be a real asset.
Creating shared goals keeps you both on the same page, working together to make your dreams a reality.
3. Bring intention into your finances and set expectations together
Now, this is more than simply creating a budget together and tracking your spending. The budget is just the beginning— the follow-through is the real test.
One of our top pieces of advice is to always spend, save, and invest with intention. This will continuously bring up the “why” in every financial decision that you make. What would this investment mean for your future? Would a different model of car better suit your future financial goals? These are examples of spending intentionally.
Create a comprehensive plan that outlines the expectations you’ve set together and determine how you can hold each other accountable. Make a point to revisit the plan often and check in on each other to make sure that nothing has changed.At the end of the day, ensure all of the financial pieces are working together in the best way for both of you.
4. Review and update your plan as needed
Life doesn’t stand still, and neither do your finances. When changes inevitably happen, update each other and your financial plan accordingly. The stock market may crash or perhaps a pandemic will set you back, whatever it is, don’t be afraid to change the plan.
You may have thought you wanted to travel the world in retirement, but after the pandemic, you found that being close to family is your top priority. Being close to family could impact where you live, the work you do, the community you create, and more.
Revisit your financial plan often and don’t be afraid to make changes— it’s a living, breathing document that will grow with you.
Work together and achieve greatness
Financial stability in a marriage comes down to constructing a plan together piece by piece, working every day to help bring it to fruition, and communicating openly and honestly. How you communicate about your finances will determine your financial health and stability going forward. Discuss your worries, goals, and ambitions— leave nothing off the table.At Step by Step, we are passionate about helping married couples navigate their financial lives to and through retirement. Retirement is a huge transition both financially and personally and having a financial plan to support your vision will help make the transition smoother. Get started on your financial journey together. Schedule a call today.