It seems like there were quite a number of couples who got engaged over the holiday season. If you were one of them or if you were recently married, there is no better way to start the year than with meaningful conversations with your partner.
You may have already talked about children, values, and aspirations but one topic that doesn’t always immediately come to mind is finances. When money is a source of conflict for many couples, you want to be sure to address the matter early on. Start with these 6 fundamental topics; be honest and be willing to compromise. Communication is key.
6 Money Topics to Discuss:
Accounts. With shared expenses comes shared responsibility. It is important to create a plan for how you will manage your money. Will you open a joint account in which you deposit both your paychecks? Will you instead open a joint account for household expenses while having separate individual accounts? There is no right way; go with the option that works for you.
Budget. You and your partner may choose to take on different responsibilities at home; it is certainly acceptable to have one person do the grocery shopping and another do the yard work. Managing your finances, however, should be a joint effort. Be sure to discuss what each can afford to spend on what and what you will do to ensure your bills are paid on time.
Spending. Up to this point, you’ve had the luxury to spend as you please. Things change when you’re married, especially if pooling your money together, so it’s best to set some rules. Will each of you have an allowance for wants? Should you consult your partner when spending over a certain dollar amount? Be clear to avoid problems down the road.
Debt. You both have likely incurred some debt and that’s fine. You just want to be sure to be on the same page. If one of you is attempting to pay down your debt while the other is constantly acquiring debt, it almost seems counterproductive. Chat about when it would be acceptable to borrow and generate a plan for paying down your debt.
Saving. Life has a way of surprising us and not always in a good way. You may get a flat tire, find that your dog had a nice time chewing up your glasses, or worse. What happens if one of you is laid off? Prepare yourselves by establishing an emergency fund. Aim to have at least 6-12 months’ worth of expenses so you’re prepared for whatever comes your way.
Goals. Areas like budgets, saving, and debt are closely related as they should be largely influenced by your goals. Talk to your partner about what you would like to accomplish and where you would like to be in 5 years or 20 years. Are there goals you can work on together? Would you like to buy a home, travel, or prepare for a baby? You decide.