Whether it’s been a matter of months since you said “I do” or you’re celebrating decades of matrimony, you may find that discussing money with your partner can still be a little uncomfortable. Even if you talked about your finances before getting married, money can remain a difficult subject for many couples as their lives, priorities and goals change. Keeping an open dialogue with your partner about money can help you broach topics before they become a problem. Here are 5 good questions to discuss with your partner on a regular basis.
What are our financial goals?
Perhaps your dreams of buying your first home or saving for your child’s college education are so ingrained in your mind that you and your partner could recite your plans backward. It still doesn’t hurt to have an open conversation about your financial goals on a regular basis. This conversation can do a few things, starting with keeping you and your partner on the same page.
Reminding yourselves of the goals you are working so hard to achieve is a good way to stay motivated, too. Check in on your progress and celebrate your savings milestones together. Saving for a goal that is quickly approaching can certainly be stressful, so acknowledging that your hard work will pay off can help reduce the stress and encourage a teamwork mentality.
This question can also create opportunities for you and your partner to propose new goals or discuss the dreams you had before your big financial goals took center stage. Does your partner dream about buying a piece of art for the living room? Can you still picture the two of you retiring to your honeymoon destination? Including dreams for your future in your regular financial discussions can be a good way to break up the pressure and stress of your immediate goals.
What are we doing to save toward our goals?
If you step back and consider what you are doing to save toward your financial goals, from contributing to your 401k to setting up automatic transfers into savings, you may be surprised by how much progress you are already making. Don’t forget to take stock of all the ways you and your partner are individually and collaboratively saving toward your future, and look for opportunities to save even more while doing so.
Are there new opportunities to save that we haven’t considered?
As you consider your savings plan so far, you and your spouse can brainstorm new ways to save toward your financial goals. Have you recently cut an expense like cable or a subscription? Think about taking that newly disposable income and putting the equivalent directly into savings every month. Could either of you turn a hobby or passion project into added income? Discuss how you could make that work and save even more toward your goals. There may not always be undiscovered ways to save, but keeping the dialogue open can help you take advantage of any new savings ideas as soon as they arise.
How will our goals change in 6 months? A year? Five years?
Your goals can change many times over the course of your life and your marriage. Deciding to grow your family – whether by hands and feet or by paws, scales or feathers – can drastically change your savings goals. Staying in a one bedroom apartment or looking to buy a house can have an equally long-term impact on your finances. And when and where you want to retire may keep changing all the way up to your last days of work. Be sure to discuss short-term and long-term goals with your partner, no matter where you are on your financial journey.
What will happen when we’re gone?
Another important topic to consider, though it may not be necessary to discuss on such a frequent basis, is trust and estate planning. Too many couples fail to properly insure their lives, their assets and their legacy, instead leaving their families with a complicated set of issues in the wake of their passing. While this is yet another topic that can be uncomfortable to discuss with your partner, it’s a critical one, especially if you have or are planning to have children or if you own your own business. Making sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to the future of your money, assets, and care for loved ones and business can alleviate additional stress surrounding an already difficult time.
Discussing money as a married couple, even after decades of matrimony, can be a challenge. The topic of how you spend and save money can feel personal, even as a couple, so making sure that you and your spouse are on the same page about your finances is key. As you work toward your financial goals, admire how far you have come and don’t forget about your financial dreams. With the right planning, your financial goals and dreams can become reality.