Good morning Dinks. Let me ask you a question, do you have a financial plan? If so do you have one with your spouse? Truth be told as a financial planner I very often create individual financial plans for people who are married, but very rarely do I create a financial plan for couples.
The other day I thought to myself, why is that? Maybe it’s because couples don’t want their personal goals to get lost in a joint financial plan, maybe it’s because couples managed their money separately prior to getting married and don’t feel the need to merge assets or maybe it’s because merging money just doesn’t make sense for all couples.
The truth is there’s nothing stopping you from having both a personal and joint financial plan. If you and your spouse want to sit down and create a financial plan for couples here are a few things to keep in mind.
Talk about your goals individual and joint
This is very important. So often people think a joint financial plan only includes joint assets, savings and goals. Although it can, there is nothing that says it has to. Talk with your spouse and your financial planner about your personal goals because they also have to be taken into consideration when planning your future – especially if you’ll be putting a portion of your income aside towards saving for them.
State each contribution
One of the easiest ways to start a financial plan is to talk it out. State your goals and each of your contributions towards the goals. This way expectations are set at the beginning and there will be no surprises down the road.
Keep track and celebrate your progress
Once you know which goals you want to achieve in the short and long term as well as who’s responsible for the portion of the savings you want to contribute you can check in on a regular basis to make sure you’re both on track.
If your goal as a couple is to pay off debt over the next two years set smaller goals, little milestones for you to achieve along the way. It’s a great way to focus on the long term with having something to look forward to in the short term. Celebrate your milestones as a couple, maybe a little dinner or a night out on the town.
Open new accounts
If you really are going to set joint goals my advice is to open new joint accounts for the savings. If one person is in charge of the goals and manages the money alone it may not seem like the reward is for both of you. If you’ve kept your finances separate until now this can be the first step towards merging your finances. Starting slow is the key to making changes, if rush into something or try to change your habits too abruptly they probably won’t stick. People need time to adjust to change.