Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and you may be getting ready to make special plans with your loved one. Maybe you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day as a newly married couple or as a newly engaged couple. Before you move too far into your journey together, share your love together by sharing some important financial discussions.
Below are five important money conversations to have with your lifelong partner to help assure years of constructive financial decisions.
1. Talk about your finances
You may have grown up in a home where no one spoke about money, but now is the time to start sharing. Be open about your income, savings and investment accounts and especially debts. Regardless of your individual circumstances, this will lay the foundation of planning your finances together. Going forward, you are in this together, so it is important to be able to fully share the financial facts of your joint relationship. These conversations can be tough to have for some. If either of you has difficulty discussing your finances, it may help to attend a financial seminar together or seek an advisor who is willing to help you navigate the discussion.
2. Identify your money values
Everyone has different attitudes towards money. Depending on how your family valued money and the ways money was (or was not) discussed in your family, you may value money differently. Do you remember your parents worrying about money or hearing how they came to decide how much to spend on the new car? It is important to discuss with each other how you each feel about money, spending & saving. Some people view money as a rock of security in their lives, while others may view money as a measure of success, a source of independence or a means for opportunity in life. Many couples value money differently and can still work successfully together toward their future goals once they understand each other’s money values.
3. Discuss your goals
Be sure to make some time together to think about your financial and life goals. You might even create a timeline outlining your goals, even if they end up changing over time. Maybe you want to purchase a home in a few years, how much will you each need to contribute to savings each month in order to afford the down payment? Develop a plan together to reach each goal.
4. Save Rainy Day Funds
Your “Rainy Day” fund is critical. You never know when something could go wrong, and you should be financially prepared. Having at least 3 to 6 months of expenses saved in a joint account can really help alleviate some of the stress of unexpected expenses. Spend time discussing what constitutes an “emergency” so you are both on the same page.
5. Share together or separately
Will you be sharing bank accounts, opening new joint accounts or maintaining separate accounts? How will bills be split and what bills will be paid by which account? Who will pay the bills and keep the records? There are no right answers as to how you should set up your bank accounts, but it is important to agree how household expenses will be tracked and paid. Discussing these issues ahead of time will you help you each have the same financial expectations.
Life is constantly changing and so will your goals, finances and priorities. Make it a point to regularly set aside time to share your financial situation and your questions together. Revisit those goals, and check your priorities with each other. Your future selves will appreciate it.
- By Susie McLane and Liz Miller