Welcome to the Heavy Purse 2015 Financial Literacy Awareness Carnival! Shannon has graciously included my article in this year’s carnival, please see her site for more great posts from fellow bloggers!
So you’re married now. You and your partner are excited to start building your new lives together and tackle all those dreams you spent hours talking about late into the night. You want to buy a house, have children, travel the world, and conquer the world. Anything seems possible and that’s really cool. And probably mostly true.
The thing is that you and your partner can accomplish anything but not everything. You both have a lot to talk about and there’s not time like the present to get started on that job. Do you guys want to pursue your careers or start a family? Are you a spender and he a saver? How will you manage that balance? Do you want to save up for a house right away or does your partner want to start a business?
I hope I didn’t scare you with all that stuff but sometimes it’s better to get real now and feel a little overwhelmed than it is to wait. Even though you can start having these conversations at any point in your relationship, sometimes it can be easier to start sooner. Here are some tips to getting your own financial house in order.
- The first order of business is talk about the big issues and put together a plan for how you want to approach things. To do this, you need to know where your partner stands on some issues. Here’s a list of some things you and your beloved should chat about:
- Lifestyles & Values: Where do you want to live? How many children, if any, do you want? How do you feel about spending on entertainment?
- Risk: If you got a windfall, would you spend it on a sports car? Do you like playing the stock market? For this topic, you’ll want to cover topics like investment, debt, and risk-taking.
- Trust: This one seems obvious but people don’t always have these conversations because they can be uncomfortable. Have a conversation about financial honesty and open, frank conversation about money matters (No hiding that $300 purse purchase!).
- Planning: These aren’t the most exciting topics but you’re going to want to talk about how much to save and spend, budgeting, college funds, retirement and who’s in charge of what.
- Work out your differences before you have differences. If your idea of luxury is a night at the Ritz Carlton and your partner’s a night out to the movies, you’re probably going to have a couple of discussions about how to spend your extra money. That doesn’t mean you’re destined for divorce but it’s important you set your priorities together. Maybe you settle on a compromise and agree to spend a weekend a year at the Ritz and set a movie date once a month. Some priorities might be more difficult to set like when to have children. A lot of factors come into play here and having honest conversations will help you plan out when and where you can make things work as a couple.
- Build an emergency fund. Set aside a certain amount of money every month and put it into an accessible money market fund or some other conservative investment option. I know you probably only think about bad things happening in an abstract sense but it can happen to you. Your partner could lose their job; your parent could get sick; or you may be forced to move suddenly for reasons outside your control. Whatever the cause, it’s best to have something to fall back on when times get tough. This may seem depressing or paranoid but things can happen at any time and you’ll be happy for the extra cushion when you need it.
No matter what your particular situation is, having these conversations and creating a game plan for your life together will bring you that much closer to success. Get real about your finances and reap the rewards!