You and your spouse have committed to building your lives together. While money may not be the most interesting thing to discuss with your significant other, it is critical to understand how you plan on working together to build a healthy financial future.
Depending on your historical relationship with money, this could be a very touchy subject. So how should you approach it?
BE PRESENT AND ENGAGED IN FINANCIAL DECISIONS
It goes without saying that both spouses should be aligned on their financial plans. While most of us would agree with that statement, it is far too common for one spouse to “run the show” when it comes to financial decisions.
Too often we see one spouse take the reins and drag their partner along for the ride. This can lead to confusion and disconnect down the road. While the division of responsibilities is different for everyone, both of you should be present and engaged in the decision-making process.
What you want your financial future to look like has nothing to do with your ability to understand financial complexities (i.e. portfolio construction, taxes, social security implications, etc.). Both of your opinions matter and your actions should be reflective of that fact.
Tips for Success:
- Understand Each Other’s Strengths and Weaknesses: Who understands financial topics the best? Who is more diligent and likely to follow through on “to do” items? Who is more practical? Who is the visionary? When you get clear on these questions, it makes working together much easier and more fun.
- Dedicate Time for Finances: Don’t expect that your money will magically fall into place. Set some time aside every month to discuss your financial goals/circumstances. You may find that certain goals have changed or you’re able to simply identify habits that productively push you forward toward your goals.
- Don’t Pretend: If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. This is far too common when it comes to personal finances. People tend to clam up about topics they don’t understand. It’s our job to help you find confidence and clarity in your money, so if you have questions, please ask us!
CREATE A SHARED VISION
When it comes to developing a financial plan, it is important to start with the end in mind.
- What are you both working towards?
- How can you use your resources to live your ideal life?
- What will retirement look like?
- Will you be paying for your children’s college education?
During this phase, do your best to listen to your significant other and be open to their thoughts. If you can both get clear on what you want and find common ground, the rest of your plan will fall into place. Keep in mind that the retirement phase may extend to a third of your life so don’t expect to plan it all out in one weekend. Without a shared vision, it’s really hard to make notable progress. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know the best way to get there?
SET S.M.A.R.T GOALS
Once you have a long-term vision in place, it’s time to get practical. Start by setting S.M.A.R.T goals:
These goals should be linked to your long-term shared vision. For example, let’s say part of your long-term vision is to live near a beach. You plan on purchasing a $600,000 beach home in 20 years. Your S.M.A.R.T goal might be to save $1,500 per month into an investment account to make this purchase in that time frame.
- Specific: You want to buy a beach home.
- Measurable: You have determined you need $600,000 in 20 years and can expect a 5% annual return on your investment. You can easily track progress over time.
- Achievable: You believe that $1,500 a month is a reasonable savings goal and does not hold you back from reaching your other financial goals.
- Relevant: You love the beach and plan on spending at least 6 months out of the year there. You believe you will host family and friends and it will enhance your lifestyle.
- Time-Bound: This is a 20-year goal that you have broken down into monthly intervals.
As you can see, having a shared vision for the future makes goal setting much simpler.
UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER’S FINANCIAL HABITS + OUTLOOK
It is important to know where both parties are coming from when money is involved.
Get to the root of it. Why is one of you such a stringent saver? Why is the other so comfortable taking on risks? How do you intend on using your individual strengths to create momentum towards achieving your financial goals?
A few questions to ask yourself:
- How comfortable are you with fluctuations in the market?
- What do your spending habits look like? Do you spend a lot on variable expenses?
- Do money conversations give you energy or drain you mentally?
- Are you analytical? Do you need to know all the facts before making a decision? Conversely, would you prefer to simply understand the important pieces of information (not every detail)?
If you can understand your family’s relationship with money, you will have a much easier time achieving financial success. At the end of the day, life is about balance and working together with an end goal in mind.
WE HELP COUPLES BUILD A PLAN FOR SUCCESS
Almost every couple we work with brings polar opposite viewpoints on many financial topics. Individually, people have different approaches/tactics but the end goal is almost always the same—having confidence that their money will help them live the life they want.
At Bienvenue Wealth, we work with you to turn your mutual long-term vision into an actionable financial plan that works for your family.