Ask a Financial Professional: Couples & Money
If it were easy to talk about money, everyone would do it. But in reality, conversations about finances are tough for a lot people. Money is an intimate topic that can make people feel vulnerable. This is true even for (or especially for) people in long-term romantic relationships.
Some couples hardly discuss money at all. In fact, one survey found that six percent of married people commit “financial infidelity,” by keeping a bank account hidden from their spouse. Further, 20 percent of the respondents have made a $500 (or higher) purchase, and not disclosed it to their partner.1
Meanwhile, financial problems are a leading cause for break-ups and divorce. To avoid this path to heartbreak, here are some strategies for helping couples establish a financial plan to achieve both of their goals.
Money: The Hot-Button Topic
Money conversations can often make or break a long-term relationship. Early on, as couples start to become serious, they’re often hesitant to share about their finances. Can you relate? How about making a game out of it? Imagine you each have $1,000,000 to do whatever you wanted with it, what would that be? Write down five answers without showing the other person. Then when it’s time for the grand reveal, you can learn to appreciate your differences, look for commonalities and assess your real-world finances to see what’s possible.
The Big Day and Financial Beyond
Once a couple decides to take the plunge and get married, hopefully they have discussed their finances apart from and inclusive of each other. That’s the best case scenario, not always a viable one. Ideally before saying their wedding vows, couples can make a vow to one another to always be an open book when it comes to money and finances. A vow to not judge or criticize one another, but to be considerate of each other’s point of view and be willing to come to a mutual agreement. Also, consider seeking the advice of professionals who can help “quarterback” your financial decisions for you.
Investing in Each Other
Most Americans are conditioned to immediately start saving big into their 401(k)s, and they neglect their responsibility to establish liquidity. So the need for cash may come from unnecessary debt or loans. It’s important for couples to invest in their future by asking themselves the following questions:
If we need cash, how risky is it to borrow against our 401(k)?
How much of our monthly income should be going toward rent or mortgage?
What percentage of our paycheck should be going toward retirement, investments, savings?
Based on their answers, a financial professional can help them develop a custom-fit plan.
It’s Never Too Late
It’s never too late to change your investment strategy. Life sometimes throws us curveballs. It is important to always communicate financial emotions and feelings. It’s also vital to understand you don’t know what you don’t know when it comes to money matters, which is where a financial professional adds value. For instance, if you were involved in a court case, would you represent yourself or hire an attorney for the best outcome? No matter how many episodes of your favorite legal drama you binge, it probably makes sense to hire an attorney. If you knew you needed an operation, would you look online for instructions on how to do it yourself? No, you would go with a surgeon.
Navigating your finances with a spouse or romantic partner can strain even the strongest relationship. Yet, with open, honest communication and the help of a financial professional, any couple can find their way to financial confidence.
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2018-70270 Exp. 11/2020