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Finance for Couples

I have just returned from a lovely wedding between two very good friends, and it got me thinking about how couples can approach their new financial situations.  This post will not focus on the actual financial decisions new couples should make, but more on how to approach making financial decisions together. This will also likely be the beginning of a series focused on this topic as many people have asked me to focus here, so look for other related posts this week as well.  So, for all the new couples out there or those couples looking to get better at tackling finances together, carve out some time and let’s look at some important questions for you to answer together.

  1. Do you both have a clear idea of what you value most?

  2. Do you have a roadmap of where you’re going and how you’re going to get there?

  3. Do you know how close you are to getting to your destination and where you are on the roadmap?

  4. Have you set up guardrails to make sure you’re following the correct path?

  5. Very importantly, are you and your spouse working off the same map?

Value

This is a conversation that needs to happen.  It’s likely that as you grew as a couple you addressed what values you have and they were generally aligned, but it’s important to take time and share these with each other.  Defining what both you value the most can be incredibly helpful at focusing on where you need to go and what you need to do to get there. Not only that, but having this conversation in an open and honest way without judgement can greatly strengthen your relationship.

Roadmap

Having a roadmap or a financial plan is very important.  It allows you to lay out your goals and the route you will take to reach those goals, as well as given you guidance along the way.  The chances of success are much lower when you’re reacting to every issue that comes up as opposed to being proactive in creating a plan for what happens when those speedbumps arise.  This is another chance to build the relationship as working through this together allows for greater understanding of each other.

Status Report

Knowing where you are in your financial roadmap and how close you are to your goals is very helpful.  Everyone loves to see progress and being able to see real financial progress can reduce the stress that dealing with finances can bring.   Being able to see where you are and what progress you’ve made is just as important as seeing the finish line.

Guardrails

By being proactive and planning out alternate routes in case you drift off your path is what ultimately determines success.  A couple can have the greatest financial plan, and very clear goals, but if they don’t put up guardrails to keep them on track then all can be lost.  The goal is always to be proactive as opposed to reactive, which also greatly decreases the amount of stress that’s generated.

Working off the Same Map

Creating a lasting relationship is an accomplishment in itself, so there’s no reason to get to that point and then not both be involved in something as important planning for your ideal life.  Both partners should be actively engaged in this process even if it’s tough to find time between rotations. Having both people take ownership of this process allows for more informed decision making and better discussion between partners.  Last but certainly not least…

Communication

This isn’t a question to ask yourself, but it should be clear that all of this greatly depends on having good communication with your spouse.  Financial discussions can be tricky especially because people can come from different backgrounds and one partner can fill more of the breadwinner role and the other person feels like they’re not contributing as much.  This is not easy and requires work, but being able to openly communicate is vital to a couples success, not just in finance but as a couple. These conversations aren’t always easy, and it can take awhile to work up to them, but the important thing is that you’re on a team.  Life and finances are much easier when you have a strong team and are able to deal with issues together as opposed to on your own.

That’s all for today’s post, but I’ll be going into other areas of couple’s finance this week, so stay tuned for that.  If there are other issues you’ve encountered or believe I skipped something important, please let me know in the comments or send me a message.  

financial planning for couples
Nathan Schorsch