Financial Bliss After ‘I Do’
Wedding season is here. It’s estimated that more than 2 million couples will be married in the United States this year. As couples young and old unite their hearts and lives, they will also face the challenging task of uniting their finances.
The truth of the matter is, financial bliss is only partially connected to the size of one’s bank account. Especially for newlyweds, financial satisfaction and contentment is often found in the uniting of partners’ financial values and goals.
These values, or life priorities if you prefer, can range from security, to service, to status. Alternatively, they might encompass areas such as independence, financial wealth, meaningful work, faith, family or excellence, among others.
Once newlyweds have identified their top values – and have seen the values identified by their mate – they can use this knowledge to create shared goals.
What if he values money and she values friendship? Is conflict sure to follow?
There is “give and take” in every relationship, including a couple’s financial priorities. Once each partner understands the values of his or her mate, it becomes easier to set shared short- and long-term goals. At a minimum, it helps couples understand what drives the other’s thinking.
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans provides these 10 basic steps that newlyweds can take to launch their new financial lives:
1. Identify your core values.
2. Establish your shared needs and short- and long-term goals.
3. Create a budget.
4. Reduce and eliminate consumer debt or other loans.
5. Start or increase an emergency fund.
6. Insure your health, property, income and life through appropriate insurance.
7. Save for your retirement.
8. Educate yourself about financial issues.
9. Meet with a financial professional to help you stay on task.
10. Talk regularly about your financial goals and performance.
Following the steps above will not address the “who, what and how” related to paying bills or balancing checkbooks. Frankly, there is no one right formula for determining who does what. Newlyweds will need to invest time, conversation and experimentation into finding the right fit for their unique circumstances and personalities.
Establishing a regular “money date,” where you set aside uninterrupted time to discuss your finances and measure them against your goals can be a fun way of addressing something otherwise considered “work.” This date need not be costly or even away from home, but it must be a time without distractions from television, phone calls or friends. This is truly “your time” to study and learn about your finances as a couple.
After “I do,” the work of establishing your new life together begins. By giving regular attention to your values and financial goals, you can enhance the likelihood of living “happily ever after” from a financial viewpoint.