June 13, 2018
Unbiased Financial Information Provided by Financial Finesse
Perhaps nothing puts more strain on otherwise happy, healthy relationships than money. Whether you are married or living together, the topic of finances can be one of the most difficult subjects to deal with.
Understanding Your Financial Personalities
Understanding that different people have different "financial personalities" is the first key to working together. Consider Jane and Duane below:
|Financial philosophy...||"Plan for tomorrow."||"Live for today."|
|Money is for...||saving.||spending.|
|Reaches financial decisions...||slowly and carefully.||quickly and easily.|
|Financial paperwork...||should be reviewed thoroughly.||is a nuisance.|
Doesn't exactly look like a match made in financial heaven, does it? If you find yourself in a Duane/Jane relationship then open communication is crucial. And the reality is this: If you both commit to working through your differences in an open and trusting manner, managing your finances can help bring you closer together instead of tearing you apart.
Schedule a Meeting to Discuss Finances
Don't put off talking about money. If you delay communicating about it, financial "surprises" will happen and when they do, the "discussion" that follows might get heated and be unproductive.
- Choose a time that is convenient for both of you AND is not right before or after your workday. Maintaining a relaxed, low-pressure tone to your discussions will prevent the session from turning into a flurry of finger pointing and name calling.
- Financial mistakes happen. Don't focus on who takes the blame, focus on how to prevent them in the future.
- Don't just talk about the burden of meeting financial obligations. Talk about your dreams for the future. If you focus on the financial goals you both want to achieve, you'll find that talking about finances isn't as stressful as you think.
What to Talk About
Here are some good agenda items for your regular meeting on finances:
- Debt - How much does each of you owe and who do you owe it to? Make a plan for paying down your debt. Most couples can reduce their debt dramatically by simply increasing their debt payments by $30-$50 per month (less than $1 per day per spouse!)
- Credit - How do you feel about using credit cards? Is your credit card use becoming a problem for one or both of you? If so, what can you do to curb your use of plastic? Make a list of how many credit cards you both have, what their balances are, and what interest rate you pay on them. Make a plan to reduce your interest payments by consolidating your debt to a credit card with a low interest rate or charging less on the higher interest rate cards.
- Monthly Bills - Make a list of your monthly bills and divide them up into essential and non-essential expenses. If budget cutting is in order, focus on cutting non-essential expenses that don't impact your happiness or quality of life.
- Obligations Outside the Relationship - What about the financial obligations you may have to others? Do either one of you pay child support, alimony, tuition for a younger relative, or provide support for a sick or dependent family member? Be honest about your feelings and how that impacts your financial life together.
Create a Savings Plan
If you ever want to buy a house together, take vacations together, or maybe even retire together, you're going to need to save together. So put a plan in place.
- Sit down and decide how much you will need to save so you can afford that dream vacation, dream house, or dream retirement. Once you figure out where you want to go, it will be much easier to get there.
- To save taxes and grow your savings faster, invest your savings into tax deferred accounts such as employer sponsored retirement plans or IRAs.
- When setting up a non-retirement savings account, consider whether you want to set it up as a Joint Tenancy With Rights of Survivorship (JTWROS).It's easier to manage together and if one of you passes away, it passes quickly and easily to the surviving person. Visit Nolo.com for more information on JTWROS.
You will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly your savings goal will be reached when there are two people contributing to it!
Value Your Differences
Remember understanding each other's financial personality will work wonders as you deal with your mutual finances. And be patient with each other. No couple agrees on everything all the time. Having different perspectives can be a good thing when it comes to managing your finances. If you commit to open discussions, you'll find yourselves appreciating other financial points of view more. So maybe Duane can see the value in planning for the future. And maybe Jane can enjoy living for the day a little more.
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