There are many meaningful ways to build a true connection with your partner. Some of them are romantic and fun, while others are more practical and necessary. One of those necessary tasks is to create financial goals as a couple to prepare for the future you’ll have together. Relationships and money go hand-in-hand, regardless of whether you’re married or in a long-term commitment, according to Snigdha Kumar, a personal finance expert and the head of product operations at Digit.
“Joint financial planning is one of the most important things you can do as a couple because money is one of the leading causes of relationship stress,” she says. “Financial goals for couples are healthy for relationships because they allow both partners to communicate their needs and wants, and plan for joint life decisions together.”
Here’s your guide on how to prep for 2022 — and beyond — as a duo.
Communicate your goals and prioritize them
Kumar says one of the biggest challenges couples face when combining finances is the trade-off between personal financial goals and their partner’s goals. Though it may be tricky to wrap your head around after years of flying solo, it’s important to remember that being in a relationship doesn’t mean ditching your personal goals. Far from it. Instead, Kumar reminds us that the goal is to simply be on the same page as your partner about your bigger financial goals.
“One tangible way to do this is for you both to make a list of all the financial goals, short-term and long-term, and share them with each other,” she recommends. For example, try to split your individual goals into two categories: ‘must-have goals’ and “nice-to-have goals.” Must-have goals are extremely important to you; while the nice-to-have goals would be great, but you can compromise on them. From here, you can start to negotiate and have discussions on what matters most for you as individuals and as a couple.
Schedule progress check-ins
No matter whether you’re training for a marathon or you’re trying to save an extra $200 a month, you can’t measure your success unless you check in on your progress. As you start to pinpoint your financial aspirations for the year ahead, make sure to keep up with the steps you take along the way, Kumar recommends. She says two things are necessary for a successful goals check-in:
- A recurring calendar invite that makes sure that you remember to check in.
- Creating a safe space to discuss progress towards goals.
During your couple meetings, refrain from pointing fingers or shaming your significant other. “Treat hitting or missing goals as a way to learn and adapt your goals for the future, spend some time discussing why a goal was met or missed and then incorporate/alter your plans based on the learnings,” she adds.
Also, while money is inherently personal, try your best to approach your relationship as a business. And your financial goals are the way to keep your business growing and succeeding. This way, you can keep a level head as you work toward meeting your goals, says Dr. Ann Kaplan, CEO of iFinance.
“You have checks and balances in place to monitor accounts, investments, tax filings and budgets,” she says. “Setting your structure up where a couple can see and understand how much is in the accounts, what the budgets are and where there are short-falls creates transparency and enables a couple to find solutions and make better decisions.”
Set guidelines for spending
Your partner may be more liberal with their spending, while you tend to take on the squirreling habit of stowing away everything for a rainy day. (Or vice versa!) Though you should both still reserve some of your financial independence, you need to align on what’s appropriate when you have common money interests. To avoid friction and make progress towards your goals, set some basic rules regarding spending, Kumar recommends. This could be limits on how much you spend on gifts for others, what percentage of your income streams will go toward your goals and savings, and individual ‘no-explanation’ spending.
“You and your significant others shouldn’t have to discuss or provide an explanation for that fancy haircut or that collectible comic book if it falls within the ‘no explanation’ spending budget,” she adds. This will help to keep you working toward the same finish line while also experiencing the trek along the way.
Create a plan to save for the retirement you want
When you think of those glorious days when you don’t have to work Monday through Friday, where do you see yourself? Are you living on a beach, enjoying the sound of the waves and the warmth of the sun? Or, are you tucked away in the countryside where you can finally write that murder mystery you’ve been brewing? Do you want to be finished with the traditional job demands by 65? Or earlier? These are all essential aspirations to discuss with your partner since hopefully, you’ll be thriving in those golden years together, says Holly D. Johnson, a personal finance expert and author.
“Couples should also make sure they have a retirement plan, and that’s true whether both partners work or one stays at home. Ultimately, planning together for retirement shows you plan to be together a few decades from now, and it ensures you’re investing enough,” she explains. Start by figuring out how much you need to have saved for retirement by your target age, and then you can adjust your monthly and yearly goals in preparation.
Don’t forget about fun purchases
Last but not least, remember that enjoying the present is just as important as being financially prepared for the future. Couples who genuinely enjoy spending time together have an easier experience coping with challenges, making it crucial to budget for fun, reminds Chris Courtney, the vice president of science for Happy Money. He recommends you each come up with your list of ‘happiest spends’ — from vacations to dinners out, etc. — so you can make a plan to pay for them.
“The goal is to highlight the things that make you and your partner feel the happiest together and spend money on those things without guilt or regret,” he says. “Shared experiences, giving to others, or time-saving purchases are often viewed as some of the happiest spends. Find out what works for you and your partner and have fun without looking back.”
READ MORE ON HERMONEY:
- 4 Couples On How Working Together To Meet Financial Goals Brought Them Closer Together
- 3 Tips For Setting And Reaching Your Financial Goals
- How to Create a Financial Vision Board for Your Financial Goals in 2022
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