Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Fern Alix-LaRocca who gives five great tips for achieving financial harmony in marriage.
Some couples will immediately combine their finances in a marriage and some will keep their money separate. It doesn’t matter how you divvy it up. What does matter is what you decide to do with it- together.
Many couples are squeamish around discussing money because maybe they are ashamed of the debt they accrued or maybe they feel bad about not knowing how to manage it properly. You can engage your finances together with these 5 tips:
1. Let your goals be your guide– not the economy or newspaper journalists. When you have the end result in mind, it’s a lot easier to save together to fund that goal. Figure out if you want to own a house, take off of work to be with a new baby, prepare to be self- employed, etc. Then use some of the free online calculators to figure out how much you need to save and invest to meet your goal.
2. Your money must earn money for you to get ahead. Don’t get stuck in the rat race of making money and spending it. A part of every dollar that you earn should be saved and invested to make more money for you. Why? Because taxes and inflation will eat away at anything you earn, but if you have an additional way of making money (like investing) then you can get ahead over time.
3. Promote mutual understanding of each other by discussing how you were raised around money and what your money personality is. It is important that your spouse understands where you are coming from, so they can be more understanding and compassionate about how you make financial decisions.
4. Make saving and investing for the future fun. My husband and I have a financial meeting once a quarter before we go out to dinner on Friday night. We talk about what went right and what went wrong and how we can improve. Through our discussions, we educate each other and review options and opportunities that we can take advantage of to grow our money.
5. No matter how different you are in your money personalities you can still find common ground and come together to realize those goals and aspirations that you both want and deserve. Get out the pen and paper and start now after dinner with a discussion about what you really want.
Remember that you can’t reach a target if you don’t know what it is. Let failure be an option. You aren’t always going to get it right, but keep forging ahead. It is a learning and growing experience to be enjoyed together.
Knowing the basics of money will help you attract it, keep it, and make it work for you. Have a plan and make money work as hard for you as you do to earn it. Engage your finances with the tips above and stay happy together.Photo by wwarby
Fern Alix-LaRocca is a Certified Financial Planner™ and Financial Coach with over 25 years experience as a fee-only Financial Advisor. Get do-it-yourself financial planning advice by subscribing to her free e-newsletter at http://www.wholeheartedway.com
Your #1 tip is right on, and the other tips are good too. If you have no goals, you have no way to choose the path that you will take. Far too often, I see people set a goal to save, only to purchase a big ticket item a month later. If you don’t have a goal and stick to its achievement, you can’t make progress.
What do you suggest in the case of #4 where one partner has no interest in financial matters?
.-= Tim´s last blog ..A Date Day =-.
Thanks, Tim! I can tell you how we handle #4 because Bethany really has no interest in financial matters either.
However, she does have an interest in our lifestyle and future, so we talk in those terms most of the time. Bethany really doesn’t care whether we save $200 per month for our next car or $150 per month. But when I tell her those are the options, and we are deciding between (1) a newer car in 2 years with no significant vacations OR (2) a newer car in 3 years with a vacation, she suddenly *has an interest* in our financial planning and decision making.
That’s just a hypothetical scenario of course, but my point is that we try to relate on issues on a level where we both care. 🙂
That is a good way to frame the topic, talking about what real things can be purchased with the money. Often, people get caught up in the boring, calculator-type of finance of x% for y years = $z. Not everyone wants to talk about algebra…
.-= Tim´s last blog ..Parenting is hard =-.
Tim, a good way to get the spouse on board with saving for a specific goal is to really celebrate together when you meet that goal.
Even if it is a little thing- like $1,000 extra in savings by the end of june.
Every little success should be enjoyed and then the long journey that started with little steps will become long term wealth with big wins.
-Fern Alix LaRocca CFP®
.-= Fern Alix LaRocca CFP® ´s last blog ..Get High Interest on Your Cash =-.
It definitely helps to be with a generally like-minded spouse in regards to finances, as I am now. Not being similar in a basic sense played a large part in destroying my previous marriage. Some practical steps help to simplify our current financial life – we use an ING on-line checking account for automatic bill-paying of the majority of bills (http://www.priaingrum.com/2009/12/15/banking-dream/). I wrote on financial planning to survive a recession: http://www.priaingrum.com/success-and-balance/financial-planning-surviving-a-recession/.
.-= Pria Ingrum´s last blog ..Dealing With The Unexpected =-.
Thanks so much, Pria! Like I mentioned in the comment above, I think a lot of couples miss an opportunity to find a way to relate their finances in a way that they do both connect with and care about. We also do most of our bill-paying automatically and online. And I love ING! 🙂
I especially like the first one about agreeing on goals. This is a powerful way to get ahead for a couple. Good post.
.-= Ken´s last blog ..What Are You Working For? =-.
Thanks for the kind words, Ken!
Great article. Finances are a huge part of marriage and my advice in addition is to make sure that each person has a solid foundation of understanding the basics of how money works. Make sure that you are open about what you know or don’t know about personal finances, then make a point to learn together. Attending a financial education seminar can make for a fun date night – especially when you see how it can lead to more fun times and vacations because when you know what to do with your money it’s fun!