It may appear unreal, but money matters happen to be a common point of friction among couples. While most individuals wouldn’t put money and relationships on the same page, strategizing your couple goals with finances largely defines your bond.
Do you know that as much as 56% of divorced Americans never discuss finances with their family members? Often, the lack of financial discussions leads to arguments among couples. Whether it comes to taking over the responsibilities to clear bills or contribute to retirement savings, you need to be transparent with finances.
Again, couples find it challenging to chalk out whether they should combine their income or maintain separate accounts while contributing. Well, building a lasting relationship with your partner inherently requires you to talk about finances. So, how about discussing a realistic and achievable financial plan with your partner?
Love and money
Love is more of an emotional subject that differs from person to person. It is for sure one of the most important pillars of a healthy relationship. However, one cannot overlook finances when talking about a sustainable spousal relationship. You surely do not want to land into a financial mess where all you have left is love.
And as history and data have shown us, love leaves quicker when finances run dry. Moreover, love cannot pay bills. Thus, these two elements go hand in hand. No matter how much you want to believe that these are two separate entities, the reality is often different.
A survey reveals that 20% of couples acknowledge money as the greatest challenge in sustaining their relationship. Therefore, the most practical approach to tackle this hurdle is to create a budget with your spouse.
Well, you consider your marriage a union or merger, and it’s supposed to be an equal partnership. So, why not plan a ‘money date’ each month to talk about your expenses and budget?
Discussing money matters with your partner isn’t taboo. Given that finances largely drive the quality of your lifestyle, sharing your financial objectives and strategizing your couple goals can lead to happier marriages.
Can poor financial planning lead to divorce?
Several studies have found a correlation between divorce and financial differences. Remember, a sizable part of successful relationships starts in debt. Strategic financial planning helps couples save together and work on their retirement plans.
Let’s check out these numbers that tell a lot about money and marriages.
- Married couples have an average debt of $112,627
- As much as 74% of couples land in debt while managing their wedding expenses
- Among divorcing parents, 40% identified financial issues as a prime reason
Now that you know why discussing money with your partner is crucial, it’s time to strategize your financial goals as a couple. Nothing beats prudent financial planning, reducing friction between you and your spouse. It’s all about setting common goals and being transparent about your income.
Deciding couple goals: Plan your finances tactically
Research carried out by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service reveals that happier couples discuss how they are going to spend their money. Once you set up a spending plan depending on your income, you two are more likely to be on the same page. This is because both individuals would be working to achieve the same priorities. Let’s take a look at some of the common financial goals for couples.
1. Purchasing a house
Sooner or later, you will be bracing up to purchase your dream home after marriage. Investing in real estate also complements your effort in diversifying your assets and growing your wealth. So, discuss how much each of you should contribute to the down payment. Next, determine the share each partner would contribute if you take a home loan.
2. Saving for your kids
Let’s face the truth: having kids would be expensive! So, if you decide to have children, discuss the financial obligations at the outset. Childcare involves expenses beyond healthcare and lifestyle. What about the educational expenses and long-term costs like college fees?
Accordingly, both of you can contribute to the 529 plans or other savings accounts for children. Planning ahead as a couple mitigates financial woes in the long run.
3. Clearing your debts
Allocating funds to clear off your debts is crucial even before you start planning for a house or kids. Remember, high interest rates on credit card loans, personal loans, or other liabilities can affect your savings. After you get married, plan together how you will square up the existing financial obligations and the part each spouse should contribute.
4. Retirement savings
Did you plan an early retirement with your partner? While these ideas seem ambitious, it’s vital to put aside adequate funds to retire early. Often, couples end up waiting up to their forties before they manage to save for their retirement. Create a realistic budget where spouses contribute to the IRAs or their 401(k). Besides, explore other investment avenues like CDs, high-yielding savings accounts, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and REITs to diversify your retirement portfolio.
Strategizing mutual financial goals for couples in 5 stages
Once you talk to your spouse about where you stand financially, start budgeting for your priorities. Budgeting with your partner shouldn’t be as overwhelming as you think. Strategizing your financial future is all about supporting each other and improving spending habits.
Besides, budgeting can help couples slash their overall expenses and pinpoint extravagant heads. Once you identify these fields, both of you can start saving for a secure future.
Have a look at these practical recommendations that should put both of you on track for a financially resilient relationship.
1. Set your goals (Stage 1)
First, establish your short, medium, and long-term financial goals. The time frame includes financial priorities that you must address at different stages of your journey of togetherness.
Short-term goals: Consider the financial priorities you want to achieve within the next two years under short-term goals. This can include creating an emergency fund, saving for your vacations, or clearing off your credit card loans.
Medium-term goals: Include all your financial priorities for the next ten years under medium-term goals. Couples often plan to purchase a new car or accumulate funds for making the down payment for a new home.
Long-term goals: Planning your long-term financial goals is crucial, as both of you need to commit yourselves financially to contribute to these funds. Long-term goals include expenses that cover the next 40 years or up to a lifetime. Remember, you need to invest for the majority of your working life to attain these goals. Usually, retirement goals or planning for your kid’s college expenses come under long-term goals.
2. Find out your net income (Stage 2)
Now that you have chalked out your financial goals, consider your combined monthly income. Given that both of you are working, assess the net income after deducting the taxes.
If both of you are working full-time and happen to be salaried employees, your monthly income should remain stable. However, if any of you are into freelancing or business, factor in income fluctuations. Also, don’t overlook seasonal downturns, sales commissions, and off-seasons while calculating your aggregate income.
Since you have an idea of your ongoing monthly expenses, it’s easy to sit together and budget. Allocate a fund by streaming in the income of both persons to manage these expenses. Even after determining your net income, revisit the calculations every month. Not everything you plan works out perfectly, right?
Lastly, consider the social security benefits and pensions that both of you would receive after retirement. Balance the remaining amount when you put aside funds for your retirement from your net income.
3. Allocate funds for mandatory expenses (Stage 3)
Some expenses of your household are recurring in nature. These come under your mandatory expenses. Discuss with your partner about who’s going to shoulder a majority of these expenses or what proportion each of you would be managing. Some of the mandatory expenses in a typical household include:
- Grocery bills
- Car payments
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Utility bills
- Parking fees
- Credit card payments
- Student loans
Now that you know how much you must put aside as mandatory payments, subtract the amount from the combined monthly income. You would carry the balance to the subsequent stage of your planning process.
4. Channel funds into your savings accounts (Stage 4)
We have already discussed how to determine your short and medium financial goals. Now that it’s time to allocate funds for your savings, consider how much you should allocate for each financial priority. So, add up the funds you are willing to channel for your short- and long-term goals and subtract the sum from the balance you had left at the end of stage 3. Whatever you are left with would be required to manage your retirement savings and other expenses.
5. Factor in discretionary spending (Stage 5)
While calculating your expenses with your partner, it’s logical to factor in discretionary spending. These expenses include expenses you don’t need badly, but together, you can enjoy a better lifestyle if you do make these expenses.
Who would bear the expenses as you eat out, stream movies, go on vacations, or wear matching outfits? Both of you enjoy these pursuits, right?
Also, factor in individual expenses like visiting birthday parties or having parties with friends. On discussing with your partner, you would find that some differences do exist when it comes to your choices of hobbies. For instance, your spouse might love spending weekends with friends while you engage yourself in golf or tennis.
Once you list these expenses, categorize them as individual or joint expenses based on your understanding. Besides, you can’t be too rigid while calculating discretionary expenses. You might not need the fully allocated amount every month and manage to make some savings.
Should couples combine finances or maintain individual accounts?
Well, this question is personal, so we leave it up to your discretion. However, as a couple, it’s worth understanding the benefits of both these approaches.
Some couples adopt a hybrid approach to managing their expenses by combining their income. This increases transparency, and there’s nothing like ‘mine’. All the cash inflow and expenses turn out to be ‘ours’.
Both partners get to check the financial flow. However, some couples divide their responsibilities even after combining the finances. For instance, you might manage the daily expenses while your spouse manages the mid and long-term goals. It’s a logical idea to have a joint bank account where both of you can check the expenses.
Consider whether you would file your tax individually or jointly when you combine finances to run your household.
Handling finances individually
Under certain conditions, it’s logical to maintain individual accounts as you manage your household expenses.
- Suppose one spouse runs a business, and their income is unstable; it’s wise to maintain separate accounts.
- If you or your spouse holds a sizable debt that is being cleared, don’t combine your finances.
- In case the financial habits of your partner differ from yours, try to handle money individually.
- At times, couples agree to maintain finances individually to enjoy psychological independence.
- Maintain separate accounts if any of you are mentally unwell or are addicted to spending
We have comprehensively explained how you can financially plan a secure future with your partner. From time to time, review your plans and check how closely you managed to adhere to your financial goals.
Also, review your life and health insurance plans or your children’s needs at regular intervals. Rebalance your financial outflow and investments accordingly to cruise along a financially resilient life.
1. How should I talk about finances with my partner?
Talking about finances with your partner requires serious time. So, make sure to talk out your differences and plan your financial priorities, ensuring both of you maintain transparency.
2. How important is financial stability in a relationship?
Financial stability is one of the prime determinants of a successful married life. Often, differences in financial planning and priority-setting lead to divorce.
3. When should I start talking about money with my spouse?
If possible, discuss your finances at least six months before your engagement. The earlier you start discussing financial priorities with your spouse, the faster you can resolve your differences.
4. How does money affect relationships?
Differences in money handling often trigger strong negative impulses in relationships. Besides, money is directly related to power, control, self-worth, and respect. A financially insecure couple often undergoes tension, and their relationship is more susceptible to conflicts.
5. Should couples put their money together?
Whether you and your partner should put your money together largely depends on your money-handling habits, debts, and mental stability. Typically, many couples are comfortable putting their money together. However, others prefer handling their household expenses individually.
[Related: How to Save Money For Your Children]