So you’ve tied the knot, enjoyed the honeymoon, and now it’s time to get back to reality. Now is the perfect time to schedule an appointment with a financial planner to develop and implement a long-term financial plan for your new family. In the meantime, it’s time to figure out how much you truly know about each other’s finances, and how each person handles money.
I’ll share a little tip about combined finances… and a big tip on marriage in general: secrets will only create more trouble than being honest. You and your spouse will be happier and less stressed once you get on the same page with regard to saving and spending. I’m not suggesting you rush to combine your accounts, I’m suggesting you talk it through with your spouse. Here are some points to consider in your conversation:
- How much do you know about each other’s finances? Are you aware of every financial account each other holds? It’s important to be aware of what accounts are under your spouse’s name. Does your partner have credit card debt or student loans? These payments could hold you back from getting a new house. It’s important to know which financial accounts your partner holds, because you may be responsible for them if they are neglected.
- Do you value privacy or accountability? Do you and your spouse share how each other spends money? Determine if you are open to having your spouse monitor your spending; and if so, are you be willing to sacrifice some of your needs when your spouses’ needs take priority in any given month?
- If you’re being honest with your partner, are you savers, spenders or one of each? This is critical to acknowledge early on in your marriage. Imagine a tug of war in which both spouses are pulling against a common opponent, their retirement goals. Now imagine one spouse pulling against the retirement goals and the other pulling against their own spouse. This can lead to feelings of resentment or even worse, the saver throwing up their arms and giving up.
- If you’re a spender and are fortunate enough to be married to a saver, recognize their strength and learn from them. If you’re a saver married to a spender, recognize that life is a balance and sometimes you need to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You both have value to add, find your state of balance and stay there.
- Are you the breadwinner in the relationship? Just because you are fortunate enough to earn more than your spouse, doesn’t mean you have the right to hold it over them. Recognize your higher earning power comes with the responsibility of directing more towards long-term savings.
- Do you like the thrill of earning credit card rewards? Some simple math can tell you whether it is worth it or not. If you don’t have the discipline or resources to pay off your credit card debt each month, you should probably holster that weapon for a Imagine a 1% cash back credit card with $30,000 of annual spending on the card. Under this scenario, you would earn a cool $300 in cash back over the course of the year. Assume this card has a 14.99% interest rate associated with it and that you are unable to make just one of the $2,500 monthly payments. After 12 months, that $2,500 missed payment will have cost you $375 in interest. There goes your reward!
The world is filled with spenders and savers. Often times a spouse can provide some perspective, but if you really want to know what camp you fall into, contact one of our Certified Financial Planners for help.