Eight Do’s and Don’ts for Creating a Household Spending and Saving Plan
Remember when you first met? Times were fun, exciting and carefree. Then things got serious. Tying the knot, or just committing to a life together, brings your individual financial worlds under one roof. And those worlds can, well, sometimes feel worlds apart. Yesterday you were dreaming about your future together, and today you’re not speaking because of a disagreement over the cost of a kitchen gadget. So how do you come together to make it work?
If you want to live happily ever after, planning for your finances is something you have to face as a couple. True, it can be among the most difficult conversations to have. And also the most rewarding. Use these tips to get started on a household financial plan that works for both of you.
1. Do Schedule a Time to Talk
Planning your finances is an involved process. On top of that, money can be an emotionally charged topic. So dedicate a time to get together, away from distractions, when you are both fresh and relaxed. Jot down a list of discussion topics or pull your most recent bank, income and credit card statements in preparation.
2. Do Explore What Money Means to Each of You
If you’ve never asked your partner how they feel about money, do it now.
- Does money represent safety and security? Or an opportunity for adventure?
- Does it give you a feeling of freedom and independence? Or worry and anxiety?
- Does money equal power or status?
- What defines being wealthy?
Volunteer your answers to the same questions. Having this context can help you better understand one another’s motivations for budget planning. (Or the avoidance of it.)
3. Don’t Look Back
Spending too much time and energy dissecting past missteps can lead to feelings of guilt or resentment. Make sure both of you have a firm grasp of where you currently stand, then talk about how to improve moving forward.
4. Do Set Common Goals
Every budget should include near-term and long-term goals. Start by finding things you both want to accomplish – saving for a special vacation, remodeling your kitchen or retiring on the beach. Identifying financial objectives that are important to you as a couple is often a much better way to approach planning your finances versus jumping into a spreadsheet with a list of all your income and expenses.
5. Do Discuss a Budget. Don’t Call It One
Creating a plan for your finances only works when both of you stick to the spending and saving numbers you set together. But calling this agreement a budget can have negative, restrictive connotations for the spender in your union. Instead, refer to it as your household spending and saving plan.
6. Do Share Financial Responsibilities
Both partners need to be involved in financial decisions, as well as the day-to-day execution of your plan. Decide which one of you is better at things like shopping, budgeting, investments and record keeping. Divvy up responsibilities accordingly. But both partners need to be aware and involved in the decisions the other is making along the way.
7. Don’t Stop Now
Be sure to revisit your plan regularly. Check in with your partner about what’s changed since you last talked. Make it fun – a financial date. Track your progress. Seeing your bank accounts grow and your debt disappear can be a great motivator to keep going.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Putting together a plan can be impossible for couples with dramatically different views on money. Sitting down with an objective third party, like a financial professional or a pastor, can help you come together.