Marriage can be complicated enough before you start throwing in shared financial plans. This isn’t just mingling in a joint account so that bills are a bit easier. A shared financial plan will go much deeper than that. After all, now that you have your person, you have all kinds of things you want to do with them, and those things will require money.
Since it’s likely that neither of you plans on working until the day you die, it’s fair to assume that you have some sort of financial plan, however vague it may be. But does your plan mesh seamlessly with your spouse’s? Do you both even have the same financial goals?
Things might have just gotten really heavy, really fast, but that’s ok, you’ll get through it. You did the hard part and got married, now, we’ll share some tips on how you can make your future joint balance sheet a little healthier.
Start Off On The Right Foot
This means clearing your debt, their debt, all of the debt. Put all the cards on the table. You can do this by sitting down with copies of your credit reports from the major agencies and getting a plan together for what to pay first.
You may use popular techniques like the snowball method or the debt avalanche method. Whatever method you choose, make sure you get all of your individual and joint debt out of the way before you start focusing on anything else.
Talk It Over
Don’t worry about specific goals quite yet. Now is the time for you and your spouse to sit down and really open up about money. This is going to involve answering some questions together. Try to consider every angle, such as:
- What does money mean to you?
- What are your good and bad memories of money from when you were a kid?
- What are your spending priorities?
- What are your good money habits, and how can they benefit you?
- What are your bad money habits, and how can you mitigate them?
- How much would you be ok with your spouse spending without previously discussing it together?
Set SMART Goals
Now that your debt is out of the way, you need to create some goals if you haven’t already. These will need to be SMART goals for the short-term, mid-term, and long-term.
If you are not familiar with the SMART acronym, it stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based. By making sure that your goals meet these five criteria you can keep yourself invested and enthusiastic about your goals.
Leverage Professional Help
You will want to enlist two outside helpers to assist you in reaching your goals. You will want a financial planner or broker who can help you maintain a functional investment portfolio, and you will want a professional tax accountant. Investing wisely will help you grow your wealth, and getting the most out of your taxes puts more money back in your pocket.
Take these four steps and your financial future together will be on the right track.