Yours, Mine, and Ours
It’s February. It’s the month of love, Valentine’s Day.
With love comes marriage, and marriage is a beautiful thing. But, what a lot of people forget to talk about is there is a business side to marriage, in the midst of the honeymoon phase.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the disagreements about money begin. Consider your own situation. Do you notice how much your partner spends on their hobbies? Are they shelling out a few hundred dollars each year for “incredibly important” activities like fantasy football leagues and golf tournaments? Perhaps your wife is an equestrian and spends all her extra money and time at the barn.
Believe it or not, money is one of the biggest reasons for disagreements for couples and can, in some cases, lead to troubles within a marriage. The good news? These troubles can largely be prevented!
So what can you do to ensure money issues rarely come between you and your partner?
What’s the key? Communication!
One of my mom’s favorite lines, but it’s so true in any type of relationship. So it follows that having frequent, open conversations about your financial health as a couple is of utmost importance.
Do either of you carry significant personal debt? Do your spending habits need to be revisited? How are you currently dividing up financial responsibilities?
The list of topics to cover with one another is exhaustive, but the conversation does not have to be. I suggest scheduling a date night to sit down together to review your finances. Maybe with some popcorn and a glass of wine? You can’t possibly be on the same page, or remain on the same page, if you’re both reading different books.
Within the financial goal conversation will come a number of different topics of discussion. For example, children. Do you plan on putting your children through public school, private school? Do we want to put them through college entirely, or just give them a sizeable head start?
These are all things that you want to be on the same page about, so that you can both work toward them together.
Discuss Your Backgrounds
Everyone has a different financial background and largely bases their current decisions as a result of what they were exposed to throughout their childhoods through their upbringing. Perhaps you were raised to save every last dollar but your partner, on the other hand, spends freely without much thought. Having different financial backgrounds is not altogether uncommon. If your money beliefs differ from your partner’s, find out why. Developing a firm understanding of one another and your experiences will help you become more stable as a couple financially and, likely, make you a stronger team personally.
If you don’t know this already, when you get married, you tend to share everything: share bathrooms, beds. You also share your credit and debt situations as well. Getting one, three, five years in the marriage and finding out you can’t afford the home that you want because of your spouse’s credit doesn’t make for a healthy conversation around the dinner table.
The next time the two of you discuss your financial futures and your plans for eventual retirement, do so together. Take the time to establish thoughtful, specific, measurable goals with your partner. Does one partner plan on managing all the finances? Or is this a joint conversation every time a financial move is made for your future? Are your risk tolerances the same? Is one of you more conservative, while the other is closer to a gambler?
What do the two of you want to do with your lives together? Perhaps a dream of yours is to travel the world. Maybe your partner is hoping to go back to school later on, or is even interested in starting their own restaurant some day. It is exciting to dream, but it is even more exciting to live out those dreams, provided you’ve laid the necessary foundation for achieving them.
The next time you and your partner find yourselves imagining the possibilities your future might hold, get out a pen and paper and actually document your goals. Set aside time to build a budget together to carve out ways you can forge ahead. Consider hiring a financial professional to guide you in the creation of a budget, help you implement a strategic savings plan, and assist you in managing your investments so that you can ultimately afford the life you’re so vividly picturing.
Wishing everybody a very happy Valentine’s Day!