A New Life With Dual Viewpoints
Congratulations! You are or soon will be a newly married couple. It’s time to revel in the bliss. It’s also time to start discussing where you two are headed in life and how your finances will be affected.
With finances and all things in a marriage, good communication is the key.
Budgeting & Planning
You’re no longer flying solo, and that means opening up communication with your partner to determine what both of you want out of life.
Taking the Team Approach to Your Finances
After marriage, you’re connected to your partner on an emotional and spiritual level. But what about the connection on a financial level? Have you acknowledged each other’s spending and savings habits? Do you have a plan for managing your finances into the future?
If you haven’t done it yet, share your personal financial status with each other so you know what to expect.
- Gather your account statements to track income, savings, investments, etc.
- Keep track of your debts, including loans you owe to friends or family
- Calculate your individual net worth (your assets compared to your debts)
During this exercise, you may discover that your spouse carries significant debt. It’s important to be caring and non-judgmental, even if you are alarmed. Remember, you’re a team that needs to collaborate to find a solution.
Goal-Setting and Your Financial Future
Once you know where you stand, you can chart your financial future by setting goals together.
Identify the characteristics of life that you both consider important, i.e., health, freedom or adventure. Maybe you want to save up for a down payment on a house, an exotic vacation or a new car. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals to determine how you will obtain these things.
Cut Unnecessary Expenses
Saving enough money for your goals may seem like a massive challenge, but most people can identify areas in their lives where they can cut costs by changing habits. Look at expenses around the house and determine what you can cut out, such as magazine subscriptions or expensive bottled water. Remember, you’re not sacrificing quality of life; you’re redirecting resources to fund a larger, more attractive goal.
And keep these strategies in mind as you go forward as a couple:
- Budget for short-term goals
- Save for intermediate goals
- Invest for long-term goals
Money Management Style
Understand how you and your spouse spend money and you can work out any disagreements before they turn serious.
Recognize How You Prefer to Spend
What is one of the major sources of conflict in a marriage? Money.
And it’s usually not about how much or how little money is available. Typical conflicts center on how each spouse uses money and how those decisions affect the other spouse and the couple’s overall financial situation.
What’s Your Financial Personality?
A new couple could benefit from sitting down and examining individual attitudes about money and what each spouse considers to be valuable purchases. Both spouses could be conservative about their money, or one could be a spender and the other a saver. Identifying where each person stands opens the door to future discussions about how and when to compromise and facilitates the cooperation needed to run a household’s finances.
An honest discussion can lead to greater peace and prosperity within the relationship.
At the initial stage, the focus is simply on how each person prefers to spend money. What is most important? This could include joining a health club, paying off credit card debt or going on a cruise to an exotic island.
Couples that don’t acknowledge their attitudes about money early on could set themselves up for contentious battles later when one spouse begins to resent the other’s decisions.
Most important is to communicate about money issues, not fight about them.
Wedding and Honeymoon Spending
It’s all fairy tales and dreams come true until you have to pay for it. Here are some tips for getting on the same page with your soon-to-be spouse.
The First Stages of Dual Financial Planning
You’re about to embark on your new life together as a couple. But before you get there, you need to plan the wedding and maybe even the honeymoon.
Paying for these events probably wasn’t part of those fairytale dreams you’ve had since you were a child, right? Most of the time, a wedding and honeymoon require a significant investment. If you and your soon-to-be spouse actually have saved up your own money, consider yourself ahead of the game.
How to Spend
You’ll still need to determine exactly how to spend that money: Stretch limo or horse-drawn carriage to travel to the reception? Orchids or a spring bouquet for the table arrangements? Hawaii or a beach closer to home? The possibilities are endless when it comes to the details of weddings and honeymoons.
If you and your spouse start to butt heads over how money is spent, that’s the time to sit down and talk. Ideally, you would have discussed your priorities before the planning started. If not, it’s important to realize that communication at this point, and all points in the marriage, is vital.
Keys to Working out Rough Patches
- Use a positive opening and respect your partner. This is no place for accusations.
- If tempers flare, cut the tension and repair the situation.
- Accept influence and value the other person’s opinions.
- Compromise to build a stronger relationship.
Getting in the habit of openly communicating about finances now will only benefit you in the future.