Every stage in a relationship brings with it key decisions to be made together. Planning your finances and shared financial futures is no different.
Money is one of the most common causes of family feuds or disagreements between spouses. That’s because managing joint finances is not quite as simple as taking care of your own, individual expenses. It takes quite a bit of planning, many conversations with your spouse, and a true understanding of where your values lie.
Getting to know each other’s spending habits
While a first date isn’t exactly the best time to ask about personal finances and spending habits, as your relationship advances and evolves, it’s important to get to know each other’s finances just as well as you get to know each other.
Is your spouse a saver or a spender? Do you have an expensive morning latte habit? How much could you be saving by bringing lunch into the office every day? These are all factors that can affect your finances as a couple or family.
If you’re ready to start planning for your future together, take a day to go over bank or credit card statements to figure out exactly where each dollar is being spent, and by who, especially if you have joint accounts. It might be a good idea to draw up a family budget, with specific amounts allotted to each of your spending categories (bills, household expenses, lifestyle spending, etc.) Giving each other an “allowance” may not be right for every couple, but if you’re saving up for a specific purpose or serious about paying down debt, keeping a stricter eye on your spending together can help you reach your goals faster.
Planning a financial future together
While financial and relationship advice are two completely different things, there is some overlap when it comes to planning for tomorrow together. What does your ideal future with your spouse look like? Your finances can play a big part in when or how you get there.
Five years from now do you want to own a house? Have children? Maybe you both want to travel the world and keep your possessions to a bare minimum instead? Having this conversation is a wise step towards achieving the financial freedom you want and need as a couple or family.
Saving money for major milestones
So, you had the “money talk.” Now what?
Once you’ve pictured your future together, it’s time to think about how your finances play a part. If you’re planning on purchasing your first home together in the next few years, it might be time to explore your home loan options and kick your savings into high gear. Ready for a baby? It’s never too early to start looking into savings account for kids or even college savings plans. Not to mention, newborns have special, often pricy needs that must be met.
Getting on the road to financial freedom is a journey best taken in good company. Having a partner by your side can make achieving the family and financial goals you’ve set a much smoother ride.