Believe it or not, many couples find it very difficult to talk openly about their finances. Money problems can literally cause a lot of heartache between people, so here are some ways couples can come together to get their financial house in order:
- Get organized: Gather all important financially-related documents to a central location that is equally accessible to both partners.
- Track your spending and pay yourself first: Write down where you are spending your money. Re-route some of your spending to a savings account: pay yourself first for a secure financial future.
- Plan to save: Start a savings account to cover expenses like clothes, Christmas/holidays, and insurance. Plan for future expenses throughout the year. Complete the Ballpark E$timate retirement planning worksheet.
- Build an emergency fund: You never know when you will need additional cash so try to have two to three months of living expenses in a readily accessible savings account or money market account.
- Don’t Go Into Debt, and if you are, Get out of debt. If you must use a credit card, control your credit card spending and try to pay off any debts you have (e.g., car, credit card, student loan, etc.). Pay more than the minimum monthly payment. Once you have paid off your debts/credit cards, take the money and put it towards savings or some other debt. If possible, the goal is to simultaneously pay off your debt while still putting some amount into savings. Remember, you are loaned money so that you will pay interest and late charges and make other people money.
- Set goals: Decide what you want to do with your money. Do you want to pay off debts/student loans? Buy a house? Save for a new car or additional education? Write down your goals and your strategy for achieving these goals. Write a budget.
- Review your insurance coverage: Every year, review your health, life, disability, renter/homeowners, auto, and personal liability policies to make sure you are both adequately covered. To learn more about insurance go to the National Association of Insurance commissioners Insure U web page.
- How much should you save and/or invest? Save at least 15% of every dime you earn beginning with your first job. The older you are the higher the percentage has to go unless you think you can work forever!