Marriage & Money: Achieving Financial Harmony Together

Getting married is usually a JOYous occasion and discussions about money could be a source of tension, but they should not.  Each person in the relationship brings their own financial habit, beliefs, and goals and open communication is of great importance.

Start early and begin to have an honest and transparent conversation about your respective financial situations including income, debts, assets, and spending habits.  This will begin to lay the foundation for understanding each of your respective financial perspectives and set the stage for a collaborative marriage as well.

Embarking on the adventure of marriage will spark a great deal of change, and one thing that should be discussed is how you are going to establish shared financial goals.  Things that should be discussed, depending on what your goals are would be saving for a downpayment on a house, planning for retirement, or simply funding your dream vacation.  Having common objectives helps align your efforts as a couple and provides purpose and JOY to your financial decisions.

Let’s review some key areas of discussion you and your partner should be considering.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach to these areas and how you address them will be personal to you:

Joint vs. Separate Accounts: Decide whether to merge all finances into joint accounts, maintain separate accounts, or adopt a hybrid approach. Joint accounts can simplify bill payments and budgeting, while separate accounts offer autonomy and independence. A hybrid approach allows for a combination of both, with joint accounts for shared expenses and separate accounts for personal discretionary spending.

Budgeting Together: Develop a comprehensive budget that reflects your combined income, expenses, and savings goals. Allocate funds for essentials such as housing, utilities, groceries, and transportation, as well as discretionary spending categories like dining out, entertainment, and hobbies. Review your budget regularly and make adjustments as needed to stay on track.

Emergency Fund: Prioritize building an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses or income disruptions. Aim to set aside a minimum of three to six months (can be up to 18 months depending on your situation and type of employment) worth of living expenses in a liquid, easily accessible account. Having a sufficient emergency fund will mitigate stress during times of employment uncertainty and lower your reliance on credit during these times as well.

Debt Management: Address any existing debts together and formulate a plan to pay them off efficiently. Consider tackling high-interest debts first, such as credit card balances, while making minimum payments on lower-interest debts like student loans or mortgages. Explore debt consolidation or refinancing options to potentially lower interest rates and streamline payments.  It will be as important to devise a strategy to not accumulate debt in the future (bad debt) as extinguishing what you have today.

Investing as a Team: Collaborate on your investment strategy based on your risk tolerance, time horizon, and financial objectives. Diversify your investment portfolio across asset classes to mitigate risk and maximize growth potential. Regularly review your investment holdings and make adjustments as necessary to align with your evolving goals and market conditions.  Be sure that each member of the relationship has a voice in the investment process and that any advisor you are working with listens to both of you.  One of you may take the lead with regards to the investments but you both need to have an understanding of what the strategy is and how you are working towards your collective goals.

Maintaining Individuality: While combining finances, it’s essential to respect each other’s autonomy and individual spending preferences. Allocate a portion of your budget for discretionary spending that each partner can use freely without scrutiny. This allows for personal expression and prevents feelings of resentment or control.

Marriage is a partnership in every sense, including finances. By fostering open communication, setting shared goals, and implementing practical strategies, you can navigate the complexities of life together with harmony, mutual respect, and JOY. Ultimately, the journey towards financial success is not just about accumulating wealth but also about strengthening the bond of your relationship through shared experiences and aspirations.

If you are recently engaged, married, or simply want to get on the same page with your partner or spouse.  Feel free to schedule a 30 Minute Zoom Meeting and we discuss what things you should be considering as a couple.

 

This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal, and/or tax advice. Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. To determine what may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor.

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