Making sound financial decisions is challenging enough when it’s just you – one person deciding on what’s best for his or her short-term and long-term goals. But add in a spouse, and the choices multiply! You now have two more sets of goals – your spouse’s and your combined goals as a couple. Plus, we all bring our own habits, attitudes, and history with spending, saving, bookkeeping, and planning for the future.
How do you accomplish what’s most important to you together and as individuals?
First, establish shared financial goals – this should be a combination of each of your individual priorities that you have discussed. This process generally works best if each person writes down his and her own goals before sharing them together. You will need to prioritize your financial resources toward meeting the ones that are most important to each of you.
Second, create the action steps and spending plan that support your goals. Depending on your history with spending and saving, you may want to consider setting up automatic savings contributions, shifting spending in certain areas to cash only, getting rid of credit cards, or other techniques that work for you.
Third, manage the day to day. Each person should have some responsibilities for managing your financial lives. Even if one person handles the majority of the financial tasks, the other person should still take the time to understand their overall financial situation, where all accounts are held, how investments are allocated, bills paid each month/year, etc.
Fourth, review your progress monthly and yearly. Set a monthly date to review progress on spending, saving, other action steps, and day-to-day financial management. Once a year, review your net worth statement and take stock of how overall progress is coming towards achieving your goals.
Money is a powerful tool to fund the lives we envision, and it can also be a source of friction and great pain in relationships. Sometimes involving a neutral professional – either a counselor or financial planner depending on the nature of the issue – can support you in moving the relationship and your financial goals forward.
To go more in depth on this topic, plan to attend my free workshop on Couples and Money at the Keller Public Library on Tuesday, September 20 at 6:30 pm. The library requests registration to [email protected] or (817)743-4800.