Happy Belated Valentine’s Day! I hope you spent the day giving and receiving love from your friends and family. I have always enjoyed this time of year because I love roses, balloons, chocolate, dinners and I just love Love. I also recently got married, so this is my first Valentine’s Day as a wife. Besides trying to find creative and thoughtful gifts for my husband, I spent the weekend reflecting on how my finances have changed since I got married. Marriage is one of the few decisions that have a guaranteed impact on your finances and should not be taken lightly. Though I believe this, there are many others who believe the sole focus of marriage should be love and everything else will fall in place after. I, however, focused on love and marriage built on a sound financial foundation. Here’s how I prioritized love marriage and money to ensure my husband, myself and our future children can enjoy financial security.
Before The Nuptials
A question I see a lot on social media is “When is the right time to bring up money?” My response has always been “do it BEFORE you get married.” Once you decide to be in a committed relationship, you should be having conversations around your partner’s incomes, debts and household expenses. You need to know this because you want to know the type of person your partner is. Are they frugal or extravagant? Cautious or impetuous? Ambitious or indifferent? If this person is going to be your lifelong partner, you need to know how financially responsible they are.
Financial compatibility is also an important consideration in a partnership. Financial compatibility is how in line you and your partner are in matters of money. You should be able to talk openly and honestly about money without fighting. You want to be able to trust that your partner will be open about their spending, especially those that could have a big impact on your lives. Therefore, You both also have to agree on what your financial goals are. If only one partner is acting to improve the financial situation of the relationship, this could be an indication that you are not financially compatible.
After The Honeymoon
After a long and loved filled honeymoon it’s time to get back to reality. This is the time when the financial commitment to the relationship may be put to the test. When wealth is combined it’s easy to forget that that number must be divided between two people. Maybe more than that if children are involved. Just as you’re committed to a successful marriage, you should be committed to accomplishing your financial goals. Together with your partner, create a home budget that you both agree to adhere to. This should not be a one-sided task but rather one that you both work on intentionally. Having a democratic process will increase the probability that both parties will work to stick to the budget. For tips on how to create a home budget [CLICK HERE]!
There are several elements that make a good home budget that couples should focus on. Your home budget should be flexible. You’ll find from month to month you may spend a bit more than you had budget for. Give yourself room to make mistakes and learn from them. As you and your partner develop more discipline, you can progress to a more restrictive budget. Another element is your budget should be goal oriented. You both should have already defined what your financial goals are and thus should be using your budget as a tool to achieve them. Finally, you should be able to track your budget. Regardless of the platform or software that you choose to use, you should be able to see trends or changes in your budget. This does not have to be a detailed, complex spreadsheet, but it needs to be in a form that allows you to measure your progress towards your goals.
For me, growing together is the part of marriage that I’m looking forward to the most. To enjoy every aspect of growing together as individuals and as a couple, you need to have a strong financial foundation. With growth comes changes and that means being opened to adapting to these changes, even financially. First and foremost, establish an emergency fund with a minimum total of 6 months of expenses. The second task is to open a retirement account (if you don’t already have one) and fully fund both accounts [Traditional vs Roth IRA]. Finally, set automatic monthly investments in your brokerage account. With these securities in place, you’re more prepared for the changes that may be ahead. Your partner may want to start a small business or may get laid off. You want to travel to several different countries or want to have children. You or your partner may even want to go back to school to pursue a passion or switch careers. These things can happen and with a sound financial foundation it will be much easier to navigate.
Love marriage and money can go hand in hand when planning your future. It does not have to be one or the other. You just need two (or more) people who are determined to work towards a common goal. Furthermore, your goals don’t need to be grand they just need to be what makes you both happy and what aligns with your values.
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