Wedding season is in full swing, and along with all the beauty and joy that it can bring, it’s also important to keep in mind that with marriage comes a fair amount of financial decisions and plans to be made. To be sure these are not always the first things we think about, but given my career in finance, I can’t help but bring them front and center.
Whether you are already part of a “we” or are forging a new connection, you’ll need a strong financial foundation for a meaningful and sustainable future. It may not sound romantic at first, but if you’re on the verge of moving your relationship forward in a big way, these three steps can help you deepen one of the most important bonds a couple can share: your finances.
Step 1: Have the (Money) Talk
Intermingling your finances can be a challenging journey. According to the AICPA, over 70% of married or cohabitating couples have clashed over financial decisions in the last year, with nearly half of them saying the tension negatively affected their intimacy. So, you can see that it’s very important to be honest with each other and work to get on the same page.
Working with a financial professional is one way to help guide a productive conversation with your partner. Many employers offer access to these professionals through workplace benefits like financial wellness — check in with your organization to see what’s on tap. For example, financial advisers often advise couples to start by sharing your ideas for what you want your lives to look like. Listen for what you have in common and what may differ, and then identify top priorities (like paying off debt, saving for a home, or starting a family).
One simple way to get started is by writing questions on index cards and taking turns picking important topics to talk through, like:
- How were you raised to think about money?
- How do you feel about charitable giving? Do you like to financially support specific causes?
- What do you consider wasteful spending? Do you “count pennies” or “treat yourself”?
- Do you have any financial pet peeves, like impulsive spending or meme stocks?
- If you received a $1,000 cash windfall tomorrow, what would you do with it and why?
- What do you want to accomplish with your money? What does financial success mean to you?
- What are your ambitions for your career, income and lifestyle?
- What are some of your biggest financial concerns about the next five to 10 years? Twenty to 25 years?
- What does your dream retirement …….