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.
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.
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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