History is replete with heroic, romantic tales of true (and unfortunately, not so true) love. Our personal financial counselors are leaving the tales behind and giving you Better’s best financial advice for couples.
Terri Bailey, M.S., AFC®: My best advice for couples is of course to be open and respectful of the different background and money journey each has been on prior to coupledom. But, equally important is to always bring it back to their goals. Set (and I mean write them out) individual and couple goals, prioritize them and refer back to them during times of stress or conflict. During conflict emotions take over and often trump reason and logic. Meeting back to the middle ground of shared and prioritized goals can be a lifesaver!
Marjorie McLean, MBA, AFC®: If you are like most of us, you’ve discovered that you and your spouse are very different. Sometimes, this works out well. For example, when you’re the only one who likes dark chocolate, so there’s no need to share. Sometimes, these differences cause conflict. One encouragement for couples is to accept those differences and allow each spouse to bring their strength to the financial plan. The supersaver, can help the family plan for the future, ensuring there’s a solid emergency savings fund and retirement plan. The spender can help the family use some hard-earned money for present-day fun and living life. Bring unity to these differences, by creating shared financial goals. Helpful financial goals will address both the future and the present, creating a road map for the couple to navigate together.
Take some time to explore your Money Story: What’s Your Money Story? – Better Financial Counseling Network
Lindsay C. Kennedy, M.P.A, AFC®: Make your financial foundation as a couple ‘fun’. This is especially important now, during the pandemic. Set and plan financial dates where you discuss spending, saving, and investing. A good table topic to ask your partner: “What does financial freedom and independence look like to you?” I assure you finances won’t be the only fun had. It is important to review and recommit to these dates, at least annually. Good tip to a successful marriage is there are no secrets, this is most especially true for finances. Most people are in relationships with their financial opposites, so it is important to know each other’s financial secrets. For example, which one of you is the spender and which one of you is the saver? Or better yet, maybe you have spending and saving figured out, but tackling taxes annually and putting together a plan for investing is something neither of you feel comfortable with; in this case professionals like Accredited Financial Counselors, Enrolled Agents, and tax-preparers can be of assistance.
Shari D. Evans, EML, AFC®: Enjoy a Money Date – A money date may be just what your relationship needs to bring life to a neglected area of your relationship or to spice up an area of your relationship for the New Year. A money date is a set aside time to talk about your financial affairs. It’s a good idea to think about what you’ll be talking about on your Money Date…some topics may include: credit card usage, savings plans for the New Year, investing, life insurance, purchasing a home or downsizing. If these things seem like a bit much for your first money date, try starting with a Money Date to check your credit reports. You may obtain a free copy of your credit report from all 3 credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com. Pull your credit reports, review them, and let that be the extent of your money conversations for this date. Schedule your next Money Date (perhaps once per month) until you’ve covered enough financial topics to establish your financial foundation as a couple.
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