MANAGING MONEY AS A MARRIED COUPLE
After all the planning and waiting, you are now basking in the memory of your wedding day bliss. You remember every minute and detail of the special day that came and went way too fast. You feel a sense of overwhelming joy until the thought of managing money as a couple creeps into your mind. It fills you with a bit of anxiety. Until now, you have been the only one in charge of managing your money. Any decision about money was a decision of one, YOU! The more you think about the future, the more overwhelmed you feel. You tell yourself there is no need to panic! You are married now; this is just the first of many discussions about money and finances. Take this discussion opportunity with your spouse to create a solid financial foundation. Striving to create a collaborative environment that is judgment-free, honesty, trust, open communication, and compromise is essential.
In my opinion, creating a future financial vision as a couple is one of the first and most important decisions you will make about your finances. The image will provide you with the financial destination. I encourage each spouse to reflect separately on what they want for their financial future and know their current financial picture by listing their assets and liabilities. Take the Financial Wellness Self-Assessment to understand your current economic well-being and prioritize your financial future. Then schedule a time to share each other’s vision and develop your combined future. I would make sure to understand what "we" want in the next five years. Make it fun and create a financial vision board. Each of you brings images that resonate with a goal you want to achieve in the next five years. Then prioritize them and add a dollar figure to each goal. Being on the same page is an excellent start in this journey.
This discussion will require both sides to show understanding, practice good listening skills, and exercise their ability to compromise. The outcome of this exercise will lay the foundation for the principles of your financial vision.
COMMUNICATE ABOUT MONEY
Learning to communicate about money is probably the most important tip. Money can be a touchy subject, but it is essential to be open and honest with each other about your finances. Be mindful of the emotions that may surface when discussing money issues. Discuss your spending habits, goals, and concerns, and work together to develop a plan.
The plan should include the yearly goals, budget, frequency, roles, and responsibilities. If something is unclear, don't wait until it becomes an issue. Get clarity as soon as possible. My husband and I set out one day at the end of December to discuss our goals and plans for the upcoming year. We discuss what house projects will be completed and what vacations will be enjoyed. Then we establish the budget and the funding sources. Most importantly, we agree to manage that budget.
Communication is key, so be sure to share information and work on developing the overall financial knowledge of your home. Don't forget to schedule a time to review, explain, and educate one another on factors impacting your finances. Be an active participant, and remember you are both on the same team!
EMBRACE YOUR STRENGTHS
Managing your finances requires the completion of various tasks diligently to stay on track with your financial goals and requires different skill sets. These tasks require attention to detail, organization, timeliness, tax, and investment knowledge. Don't be afraid to show off your strengths, and don't be afraid to use them to achieve your goals. Embracing your strengths will help you feel more confident and self-assured about contributing to the success of your financial future. We all have a special gift that comes naturally to us, so embrace your strength and work together to divide and conquer.
Financial conversations are critical early in your marriage as they help establish the ground rules and ensure both are heard. Equally important is to communicate regularly about your finances. This way, you can stay on the same page and ensure you are both on track to reach your financial goals. In addition, you should walk away with a feeling of power, autonomy, and a sense of direction for your financial journey.