Three Things Couples Need To Talk About For Their Financial Health

Dec 11, 2014 | Financial Health, Goal-setting, Investing for couples, Investing for families

Finances can be one of the toughest topics to navigate as a couple. It’s one of the top things couples fight about. After all, a conversation about money is never just about money. Money ties into our values, our upbringing, issues of family, opinions about lifestyles, goals, dreams, legacy…

The best thing you can do as a couple is talk openly and often. This strengthens your financial health and your bond. If you’re like most couples, you won’t be on the same page about everything financial. In fact, you might never be on the exact same page! We see it all the time: one partner is a spender, one is a saver; one person is more interested in investing and planning ahead, while the other prefers to focus on the day-to-day.

It’s less important that you ever reach perfect agreement on every single thing, and much more important that you agree on the bigger picture. Here are three important things couples need to talk about, and how to kickstart this ongoing dialog.

1. Your financial goals as a couple.

The number-one thing for couples is to set overarching goals and work toward them together. What are your goals? What is your main financial focus? Are you planning for retirement, looking to buy a home, trying to pay off an old debt? Do you want to take a family vacation next year, or set a certain amount aside for the kids’ college funds? Your goals will have different timelines, and they will evolve as your lives do. Once you set financial goals, you can map out a specific plan to get you there. How will you each¬† of you contribute to these goals as a household?

2. How your mutual money will be managed.

What I often see is that one partner takes the lead on managing finances (contrary to what traditional Wall Street might assume, women are often the CFO of the household). It’s perfectly fine if one person prefers not to be quite as involved, as long as everyone still has an understanding of all the moving pieces of your wealth. This means knowing the location and amount of accounts, assets, and property, and whether they are held in your name, your partner’s name, or jointly. It is also part of a larger conversation on planning for your financial future together that involves your goals and investment strategy.

3. Guidelines for checking in about money matters.

You and your partner need to develop a system that makes sense for you. What works for one couple isn’t necessarily what’s right for another. The important thing is to set aside time to talk, check in about anything that may be affecting your financial lives, and set clear expectations as needed as you continue to work toward your goals. Maybe you have a standing date to plan out goals for the year ahead, come January. Maybe it’s a monthly talk, or even weekly. Make it fun! Chat over a nice meal and a bottle of wine, or go for a walk. These conversations might not be the most romantic, but they are so essential to the long-term strength of your relationship – so, anything you can do to make finance more fun is always a good idea!

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