“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.”
Ok, so working with couples throughout the years in my financial practice, there are some common themes regardless of the age or how long they have been together. Here are my top three tips that have helped many of my clients:
There is nothing worse than having a fight about who pays for what and especially when one feels like they are carrying the load if they make more income than their partner or one who doesn’t feel valued if they don’t.
Decide TOGETHER how you will pay the day to day/monthly bills, entertainment, vacations and going out to eat..etc. Get really clear on whose income is being used for what purpose. If bonuses, raises, or tax refunds come, make a plan on where those go. I will talk more about debt in a following post. But for now, if you are not feeling heard because you don’t make enough or resentful if you do; time to have a sit down with your partner.
2. Bank Accounts-Joint/Separate?
You will read many books, articles on what you “should” do as a couple. Here’s the deal, there is no right or wrong answer but what works best for you both. If you are having a hard time in this area; here is what I have found to work well not only in my own marriage but also in my clients relationships:
3. Create a Family Financial Mission statement
This is one of the best things that has solved a lot of issues for my clients. In your mission statement, put specific details about your financial goals, what dollar amount you must agree upon for purchases, what qualifies dipping into your emergency account..etc. Here is an example of a mission statement that we have created. Feel free to use it as an outline for yours and make it your own.
We…(Names) both agree to purposefully live within or below our means and not to make any future purchases unless we can pay for it outright or with 0% interest. We also agree to work together to save at least ______months of monthly expenses and to keep that as our emergency fund. We also agree to have a separate savings account to save for items such as travel, taxes, investments or any additional mutually agreed upon goals. We agree to discuss purchases larger than _______ must be mutually agreed upon. We also agree to meet monthly to check-in and review our progress. If there is any debt we agree to the following action plan________
Then sign/date and you are good to go. Change it or create a separate one when there are major life changes, kids, college, care for parents or family members.