When people combine finances, many do so while simply jumping right into life as a couple. Excited about the present and future, some people let their emotions guide them and let practical considerations – as well as potential landmines – get swept under the rug. Or, alternatively, put off to be discussed at some other time.
The reality is that the honeymoon phase lasts only so long, and at some point people must give sincere time and attention to unavoidable converstations when they decide to merge money after marriage. First, people really do need to disclose finances with the other person. It’s important to thoughtfully and compassionately discuss both assets and liablities with the other person. Only seems fair, right?
Beyond talking about what is being brought into a relationship, it’s also important to discuss financial goals with your spouse. Two people may talk about their finances and find out that they’re coming in with similar situations, but that doesn’t mean that they want the same things in their financial lives. In other words, while people may be in the same place at one point in time, it doesn’t mean they have the same goals.
Here are 5 examples of why it’s important to discuss financial goals with your partner:
1) Different desires to become wealthy. Some people are simply driven to become wealthy, and others are more content to be middle class. Others may not care much at all. The bottom line is that if people have different ideas on where they want to end up, it could lead to disagreements on how to structure life and spend time.
2) Starting a family. Having a family totally changes one’s finances. I think it’s totally worth it, but of course some people have other interests in life. When couples see such things differently, it can also impact their finances. Best to have a discussion on family, and align finances to what you both decide together.
3) Interest in working vs. staying home. Sometimes, both people might love working. Other times, one might want to stay at home full-time and raise kids. Or work part-time, scale back, etc. Whatever the case is, taking about such lifestyle goals becomes a conversation about financial goals as well.
4) The type of home to purchase. Some people really want to live in a dream home, while others are content in a smaller home. Some people want to live in the same place for 30 years, others like to be more mobile. Someone may want to live near parents, while the spouse wants to keep a distance from in-laws. You get the idea – people might have different ideas on how and where to live, which is a reason to discuss finances since homes can be such a big part of one’s balance sheet.
5) When to retire. There are some folks that are content working until they are 65 and older, while others simply can’t wait to exit the workforce as early as possible. How much one values freedom can impact work and savings rates, so it’s important to have discussions to get on the same page.
Of course, it might not be totally fair expect two people to completely and exactly agree on everything. That being said, by at least having the discussions, and keeping in mind a spirit of compromise and a shared journey, two people can happily agree upon a course of action that works for them together.
My Questions for You
Do you think it’s important to discuss financial goals?
Which of the 5 examples above do you think most involve being on the same page?
Can you think of other reasons why it’s important to discuss goals?