How to plan your first major purchase as a couple

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Making a major purchase as a couple can be both exciting and scary—especially your first major purchase! 

Achieving your shared goals brings all the things—enthusiasm, excitement, fear, and big money decisions. Buying something significant with your partner is not only a serious financial commitment, but can also be a physical representation of your commitment to each other. So let’s break it down. Everyone’s situations are different, but here are six things you should consider when making your first major purchase with your partner:

Align on what’s important

It sounds simple, but people often shy away from conversations about money. While it can be awkward and uncomfortable at times, normalizing your discussions around money is an essential part of aligning on, and achieving, your shared goals. If you haven’t done so—schedule a money date and talk about which major purchases are important to each of you.

Consider your partner’s financial situation

Couples are made of individuals and individuals come to their relationship with different incomes, savings, and debts. It may or may not come up in your talks about money, but it’s important to consider how your partner might be feeling about a major purchase and their contribution to it. Again—it’s important to have that honest dialogue (see money date above). Major purchases should be sources of joy—not resentment or guilt.

Prioritize

House. Car. Vacation. 300-foot yacht. College fund. Trip to space. We all have different financial goals—some attainable, some… not so much. It’s good to have things to strive for, but make sure you and your partner prioritize your shared goals. Biting off too much at once can lead to financial strain, which can then result in relationship strain. The results are predictable, but also avoidable.

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Don’t feel like you “have to”

Well-meaning friends and family (and the internet) are often not shy about telling us what we should be doing. That said, every couple and every relationship is different, so you do you. Get input from the people and sources you trust, but ultimately—it’s your finances and your relationship, and you should do whatever feels right for your life.

For example, my wife and I were ready to buy an apartment (because that’s what we were supposed to do) but bailed at the last minute. Instead, we decided to buy our “second home” (a vacation cottage) before our first. It was less money, more fun, and completely changed our lifestyle. We still don’t own a “first home” but are very happy with our decision.

Take care of the essentials

Your major purchase is the goal, but make sure the basics are covered first. Your shared goal should be something that brings happiness and joy, not stress, so do what you can to prevent financial strain. Make sure you have an emergency fund and pay down your debts as much as possible to improve your credit score—as this will help you save money if you are financing your major purchase.

Set up a savings plan

Partition your money into bill reserve, spending money, and savings for goals. You can grab a pen and paper and do that on your own, or automate it with tools like Zeta Joint Cards’ Goal feature. Set up your budget and assess the timeframe and attainability of your goals. If it looks good—automate your savings so you stay on track.

Remember to enjoy your purchase. Your first major purchase as a couple is significant for many reasons. As with any big financial decision, there will be some stress, but make sure to be open and honest with your partner about your shared goals, come up with a plan, and make sure you have some fun.

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This article originally appeared on The Budget Savvy Bride and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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10 crucial money habits for couples

10 crucial money habits for couples

First comes love, then comes commitment, then comes financial partnership.

Individuals who come into a relationship with solid money habits have an advantage, but to make love work, it’s essential to merge skills to make the most of dual incomes and hit shared goals and dreams.  

Financial planning can be a source of frustration and friction when you have different attitudes toward saving and spending or if you aren’t sure where your money should be going. 

Being a financially effective couple has nothing to do with being rich. It has to do with managing the money you have and allocating it effectively toward the things you value and want to do in life. It also comes from knowing you and your partner’s money stories and money personalities. 

There’s no handbook for how couples should manage their money effectively because, well, each couple wants different things out of life. Still, there are ways to grow your money together while keeping arguments to a minimum. 

Here are 10 habits that can help you become one of those couples that “have it together” when it comes to their money — and tips on how to get there. 

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This can help you eliminate spending on some things you’re both paying for (it happens!) and get a sense of your actual shared bills to utilize your joint account better and start spending as a team. Get out a spreadsheet or pad and paper and start making a list of your shared and personal expenses.

Not sure what they are? Your shared expenses are consistent expenses that you both pay every month. An example of shared expenses is the rent, mortgage, and the water and heat bills. When you have that done, you can start thinking and talking about other expenses that the two of you share each month, such as groceries and other monthly subscriptions.

Then start making a list of your individual expenses, the kind that you each pay independent of the other, such as gym memberships, gifts for family members, and how much money you tend to spend on the things you want.

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Let’s face it: Not everyone comes into a relationship with all the financial know-how. Rather than expect the more free-spirited person to become the master of spreadsheets, think about how they can best contribute to the financial relationship.

For example, if one of you is naturally more organized, that person can be the designated chief financial officer. The other can help by bringing in extra income or making sure that the other doesn’t become too face-down in the numbers that they forget to enjoy the little things in life, like the occasional dinner out.

Figure out how each one can own a financial role that feels joyful and not a miserable chore. 

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Couples that manage their incomes effectively juggle their short-term and long-term goals and allocate their paychecks into the near and distant future. By creating buckets, for example, using the 50/30/20 rule (50% on needs, 30% on wants and 20% to savings), you can start effectively planning with your money rather than just saving and spending sporadically.

For example, a couple making a combined yearly income of $80,000 after taxes could begin by each earmarking $800 a month toward shared monthly bills and expenses (a need), $200 a month toward a big anniversary trip to Australia in 2021 (a want), and $300 a month into their emergency funds and retirement accounts (savings). 

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We enter into our relationships with a lot of baggage when it comes to our money. Our parents may not have taught us good values or how to handle personal finance. Maybe they just weren’t good with money and weren’t role models. Your money story explains who you are financially and how you got there (and where you want to be in the future).

Taking the time to learn each other’s money stories and how their attitudes developed over the years can help couples build intimacy and understanding. There are fun ways to learn each other’s money stories.

Consider starting with a fun game of 20 questions, and you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn about each other. 

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Most couples would rather take a dentist trip than sit down and spend an evening talking about their financial situation. And who can blame them? Conversations about money can be really stressful and end with fights and recriminations. A solution is to set up a monthly money date to soften the tough topics’ blow and make them more regular so that there are no jolts or surprises.

A money date should happen once a month at an agreed-upon time after the dishes are done and with a glass of wine or a comforting dinner. Take an hour to go through your goals, debts and feelings, as well as your long and short-term goals (and your progress toward them). Doing so can help make tough money talks easier to approach and help you tackle tougher topics down the road. It’ll also keep your money flowing in the right direction and make for real positive change. 

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Couples who let automation take on the burden of paying bills and certain shared expenses have more time to spend doing things that are actually, well, enjoyable. Automating your finances means that you don’t have to write yourself a note to manually transfer money into your joint account or bug the other to pay your bill. 

But automating your finances is more than just simple convenience. Automation allows us to reduce what behavioral economists call “the pain of paying.” Combined with a lot of communication, automating your finances can help you save and spend together and separately.  

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There’s no one way for couples to merge their finances. Take time to figure out what your money merge style is. Do you want to throw all your income into a big pot and pay your bills as well as shared and individual expenses from there? Cool!

Or maybe you want to allocate a portion of your money into a shared account while keeping a portion of your income for yourself to spend as you please. However you choose to merge your income, it’s essential that you both feel like you have access to your money in a way that makes you feel that you have financial independence and a healthy role in your financial decision making. 

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Think a spender and a saver can’t find financial happiness? Nonsense. Opposites can attract as long as they agree on the bigger picture. In fact, research has shown that two savers may not be as financially compatible as one would think — one person may eventually become more drawn to spending.

Taking a money personality test is a fun way to help you figure out your spending and saving style. Let each person bring their superpowers to do what they do best so financial planning doesn’t feel like a chore. It can also establish more trust between the two of you and help you find ways to make your money personalities complimentary versus at odds with each other.

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No one can predict the future (hello, 2020). That said, couples who know that there will always be rainy days on the horizon keep a healthy emergency fund if one partner loses a job, faces a big medical bill, or is confronted with a sudden change in life circumstances.

There are many schools of thought about how much to put aside. However, a good rule of thumb is three to six months’ worth of shared expenses that keep the lights on — rent or mortgage, minimums on credit card bills, and car payments. Automating your paycheck toward your emergency fund can make creating and growing it a lot easier.

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<div class=”rich-text”><p>Even in the leanest times, the most financially successful couples celebrate something positive in their relationship. Telling the other person how important they are to you and how you value them doesn’t cost anything. It’s OK to agree to disagree as long as you take the time to come to solutions that don’t end in sulking or passive aggression.</p><p>Financial harmony comes from <a href=”https://yourmoneygeek.com/5-reasons-why-talking-about-money-can-help-your-sex-life/” target=”_blank”>celebrating all the good that the other brings into the relationship</a> and not harping on the things holding you back. If you schedule a monthly money date, be sure to end it with something fun and loving, such as a bowl of ice cream or a snuggle on the couch.</p><p>Reminding each other that you’re a team and that you’re here to support each other through thick and thin is the most important thing that successful couples can do, financially or otherwise.</p><p><br/></p><p><b>Related:</b></p><p></p><ul><li><b><a href=”https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/personalfinance/simple-ways-to-be-smarter-with-your-money/ss-BB1ftizS” target=”_blank”>Simple ways to be smarter with your money</a></b></li><li><b><a href=”https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/retirement/50-uniquely-american-facts-about-personal-finance/ss-BB1eGmCQ” target=”_blank”>50 uniquely American facts about personal finance</a></b></li></ul><p></p><p><br/></p><p class=”block-paragraph”></p><p class=”rich-text”></p><p><i>This article originally appeared on <a href=”https://yourmoneygeek.com/money-habits-of-highly-effective-couples/” target=”_blank”>YourMoneyGeek.com</a> and was syndicated by <a href=”https://mediafeed.org/” target=”_blank”>MediaFeed.org</a>.</i></p><p><i><br/></i></p><p></p><p></p><p></p></div>

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