15 Jul Financial Planning for Couples: Keeping Financial Stress out of Your Relationship
They say the two leading causes of divorce are money and communication issues.
Let’s tackle the money issue.
In a study conducted for the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC), 42% of Canadians ranked finances as their top source of stress. Ouch!
And if you guessed that women reported experiencing more financial stress than men, you are correct.
How do you stay in love and keep financial stress at bay? Here are some tips to help you enjoy more of the former, and less of the latter.
1. Transparency trumps secrecy
Couples who maintain transparency and honesty regarding the details of their personal finances (including spending and saving habits) argue less than those who don’t.
The more transparent you are with your honey, the less you argue. We think that’s a win-win, for your relationship, and for your finances.
Dave Ramsey coined the terms ‘free spirit’ and ‘nerd’ when it comes to spending and saving habits. He maintains that there is almost always one free spirit and one nerd in a marriage relationship. The names are pretty self-explanatory: the free spirit errs on the side of carefree spending and saving, while the nerd adheres to a strict budget and loves penny-pinching.
Can you imagine what that leads to? Trouble. And stress. But with transparency working in your favour, you can manage the natural friction that occurs between two people with very different spending and saving philosophies.
Who’s more of the free spirit in your relationship? And the nerd?
We should clarify that one is not better than the other — they’re just different. That’s why honest, transparent conversations are so key to the health of your marriage and finances!
That’s also why budgeting can be a relationship-saver.
2. Couples who budget together, stay together
Budgeting is a tried and true method. If you will first write down on paper (or, in Excel) where your money is going before you’ve spent it, it’s going to be a lot easier to stay on track — and a lot harder to justify unaccounted for spending.
Budgeting not one of your strengths? That’s okay, we get it. We wrote this (insert link: blog post on budgeting) just for you.
3. What do you want? Like, really?
Right up there with budgeting — and perhaps even before budgeting — is discussing what you want. What are your goals? What are your dreams? What gets you excited, or makes you come alive? Life together isn’t all lollipops and dream vacations, but it certainly shouldn’t be about resigning yourself to just surviving the the so-called Rat Race.
Decide what really matters to you, as a family, and go from there. Your budget shouldn’t only take into account daily necessities like shelter, food, utilities, and so on; you need to include room to dream and make memories!
4. Have a weekly date night
Say what? Yes, it’s true. Couples who intentionally set aside time for weekly date nights keep the intimacy and closeness alive in their marriage. Moreover, it gives you a chance to lovingly check in with each other every week, and even discuss issues that may have come up. Remember tip #1? Transparency trumps secrecy. And of course, don’t forget that two heads are better than one for problem-solving!
And if you feel like romance isn’t in the budget, remember that a date night can cost as little or as much as you’d like — so put it in your weekly and monthly budgets before you start spending!
5. Get a Certified Financial Planner, if you don’t already have one
Before you’re ever at a place where financial woes are escalating and taking a toll on your health and relationship (and even if you’re there, still make an appointment — outside help is always useful), sit down with a professional so you can develop a sound financial plan. More than just nipping potential problems in the bud, every couple should sit down with a financial planner and discuss:
- Insurance planning
- Debt elimination
- Education savings
- Tax preparation
- Retirement planning
- Estate Planning
- …and more!
Remember: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!