4 Ways Couples Can Tackle Money Goals Together

By Denise Hill on 2 May 2018 0 comments

The "relationship goals" meme revolves around the idea that — at least in the world of social media — your relationship is envied by singles and mediocre couples everywhere. And whether you realize it or not, a big part of having a successful marriage and reaching that "goals" status is figuring out the financial aspect of your relationship.

Money itself isn't a homewrecker. It's other issues — like communicating about money, your relationship with it, and your values associated with it — that cause problems. Establishing a strong money management system within your marriage can be tricky. Here are a few things you and your spouse can do to set and achieve financial goals as a couple.

Establish financial core values

Like it or not, your spending habits directly reflect your values. You say you want to save and get out of debt, yet you eat out five nights a week and upgrade to the latest gadget as soon as it hits the market, despite the cost. And while you may feel that lack of discipline is to blame — and it is to some degree — the truth is you don't value saving enough to actually do it.

As a couple, you should sit down and write out the core values that will govern your lives together. Most of these values may not directly relate to money, but they all relate indirectly. For example, if you value open and honest communication, that should trickle down to your finances. You have to commit to communicating openly and honestly about spending habits, earnings, debts, etc. And you shouldn't "hide" money from one another.

Be honest with your spouse and yourself when establishing your value system. Some things sound nice, but they may not be a part of your value system. And that's OK. If your spouse values something — such as saving — that you don't, be flexible and compromise a bit. The same is true if you have a "spender" spouse who values spending money on entertainment. You've got to give a little. You value what you value. There shouldn't be shame or judgment attached to it. The key is finding balance and learning how to get your spending habits to accurately reflect your value system. (See also: 8 Things I Learned About Money After Getting Married)

Have joint financial goals

The second thing you and your spouse should do is establish financial goals together. An easy way to do this is to look at your life goals — long- and short-term. Align your finances with those goals.

As a couple, what do you want to accomplish? Do you want to retire early? Live a debt-free lifestyle? Have a small army of children? Travel the world? Care for aging parents? Start a business? Go on a second honeymoon? Once you've established your life goals, your money goals will emerge naturally. You and your spouse just have to fill in the details.

How will you save to afford that Jamaican getaway? Will you get side gigs, cut back, or follow some other plan for saving? The key here is to align your financial goals with your life goals. And then work diligently to achieve them. (See also: The 7 Worst Money Mistakes Married People Make)

Assign money management roles

After you've established your core values and set some financial goals, it's time to address the details of handling your money. A great way to relieve tension and help ease the financial power struggle is to assign money management roles within your marriage.

One of the best things about marriage is that you have a teammate. In most marriages, one spouse enjoys certain activities, while the other spouse doesn't. One may be a cleaner and the other one loves to cook. One loves yard work and the other is a decorator. One may be a planner and the other one likes to live spontaneously. The point here is to make the most of each other's strengths and preferences.

Assigning roles and tag-teaming your finances is a great way to make each other feel valued and quickly accomplish your money goals. If you are a shopper and your spouse loves to budget, allow them to manipulate the numbers while you make it work in the grocery store. Both tasks are equally important. Shopping — which is different from just buying stuff — is an underrated skill. Budgeting, saving, and shrewd shopping are the trifecta of good financial stewardship and will accelerate your journey to achieving your financial goals. (See also: 3 Simple Ways to Split Bills With Your Spouse)

Have at least one joint account

Having a joint bank account is more intimate than sex for some couples. It's a big step and the ultimate sign of trust. It puts you in a place of vulnerability. And being that vulnerable can be tough.

The key is to take baby steps toward your goal of sharing the same account. It begins in your own mind. Examine fears, perceptions, and past experiences that have left you skittish in this area. See what you can do to talk yourself into being open to the idea.

Once you're open to the idea, it's time to engage in honest communication about it. It can be a very difficult subject, but you have to have the conversation.

Once you've heard each other's fears and misgivings, you can move forward and establish ground rules and procedures. You could create an account together just to pay bills or strictly for saving. See how that goes and move forward from there. There is no one-size approach to mixing love and money, but you do have to be open-minded and at least give your partner an opportunity to earn your financial trust.

Sharing an account can do wonders for your marriage and help you reach your financial goals much quicker. When done correctly, it creates an atmosphere of transparency and accountability. It also promotes the team concept.

If you've established your core values, established long- and short-term financial goals, and have clear roles, making the step to sharing an account will be much easier. Again, this is a difficult bridge to cross for a lot of couples. Remain patient with yourself and with your spouse. And do what is best for your marriage and situation. (See also: 6 Things You Should Know About Joint Checking Accounts)

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