Money and finances are one of the top 3 reasons cited for divorce. It is a very important topic couples must deal with. It erodes a lot of people’s marriage and brings about unbearable stress in the lives of couples. As a couple, you need to have an open and honest dialogue about this topic of money.
First, think about how you grow financially within marriage. After you’ve said “I do,” how do you continue to grow? Consider the following 4 tips when exploring the area of finances.
Step 1: Create a Joint Household Budget
It’s challenging enough as a single individual to create a budget, but it’s even more complex when you are talking about a couple, joining incomes and trying to allocate expenses.
- Creating a budget helps you see how much your household is bringing in and spending out each and every month.
- Creating a budget helps you determine if you are in a surplus or deficit position (meaning you either have money or you don’t) at the end of the month.
- Creating a joint budget will give you a great understanding of how much money you should have available to save, invest, or set aside for college funds.
Step 2: Have a Short Term Plan
Next, think about the short term planning of your household. It’s important to have access to money just in case things happen. Life happens, the car will break down, or whatever the situation, it’s good to have money set aside. For married couples, you should have $1,500 set aside, so that you have access to handle those situations. It shouldn’t be a state of emergency whenever something comes up. Take some time to discuss and document your short-term money goal.
Step 3: Have a Long Term Plan
This is especially important for couples. Here are a few areas that you need to consider as a part of your long-term financial plan:
- Purchase a Life Insurance Policy
- Participate in Employer-Sponsored 401(K) Plans
- Work with a financial planner to determine how much you need to invest/save for retirement
What long-term money planning goals do you have in place for your marriage right now? Make a commitment to work with a financial planner to create a long-term plan for your investments and retirement. Document who will be responsible for finding the advisor and a date for when this will be done.
Step 4: Monitor Your Credit Score Regularly
Your ongoing credit score and credit rating are equally important. Make it a yearly routine to pull copies of your credit reports. Check them to make sure everything is correct. It gives you the opportunity to see what you need to fix. It is an empowering exercise to help one another grow in this area. Get your credit report. Visit annualcreditreport.com to order your free credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. You will be able to check your reports for errors and dispute them if necessary.
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Get your credit score. Although you will be able to request your credit reports for free, you will have to pay to receive your credit scores from all three credit bureaus. If you want a free credit score from one of the credit bureaus (TransUnion), you can visit CreditKarma.com to get it with no strings attached. Establish rules around credit card use. If you don’t have parameters when it comes to credit card use, as an individual and as a family, then you are financially doomed. Speak to each other about when credit cards are to be used and what the spending limits are.
About the Author: Kenny Pugh, Personal Finance and Business Coach, helps people gain better control of their personal finances. In this segment, Kenny discusses money and how love and money work together. Website: www.kennypugh.com
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