What makes a couple successful in their financial relationship? Ameriprise Financial surveyed more than 1,500 opposite and same sex couples (ages 25 to 70 and married or living together for at least six months) to learn about their money conversations and how they make financial decisions. The results revealed eight ways to improve the financial health of a relationship:
Understand your partner’s money mindset. It’s normal to have differing views and habits when it comes to money, but that doesn’t mean you can’t agree on your financial goals. Couples who report being on the same page financially work to understand their partner’s approach to money and keep the lines of communication open.
Make finances a priority and don’t give up. Couples willing to have hard conversations and work together to find financial harmony will reap the benefits over time. As you might expect, the study found couples who’d been together longer tended to have better communication and be on the same page when it comes to financial matters.
Agree on financial goals. It’s tough to pool your money with someone who overspends or isn’t willing to save for the vacation you’ve always dreamed about. Sharing financial goals can bring you closer together—or at least it’s one less thing to argue about. To make it easier to save, prioritize your goals and challenge yourselves to add a timeframe to each one so you know what you’re working toward first.
Assign and accept financial roles and responsibilities. Most couples divide tasks such as paying bills or monitoring investments. Clear responsibilities make it easier to hold one another accountable without worrying if the cable bill was paid. However, be sure to work together on tasks that require close collaboration, such as retirement planning.
Invest in your future together. Make it a priority to set aside a portion of your earnings for short- and long-term goals, including retirement. Know how much you collectively have in retirement savings—a surprising 23 percent of couples are unsure of this number. If you have children, talk about how much you’d like to contribute to their college expenses so you can save accordingly.
Set a spending limit. Spending habits were the leading cause of contention for couples. Consider setting a spending limit to ensure you’re on the same page as your partner regarding large expenditures. On average, couples said a purchase more than $400 should trigger a discussion.
Understand that disagreeing is OK. According to the Ameriprise study, even couples who say they’re in financial harmony sometimes disagree on financial matters. What’s important isn’t that the partners don’t always agree, but that 82 percent resolve their issues and move on.
Enlist a professional to solidify your financial plan. When you need an objective opinion—or a deciding vote—meet with a financial advisor. Together, the three of you can create a financial plan that meets your specific needs as a couple.
Ultimately, it feels good when you’re in sync with your partner regarding financial decisions and can work together toward managing your finances. Couples who actively work on improving their financial relationship will likely be less frustrated over money matters and may even feel better about their relationship overall.
Ryan Mason is a financial advisor with Strategic Planning & Investment Advisors, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. He offers fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 15 years. To contact him, visit www.ameripriseadvisors.com/ryan.j.mason.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. and its affiliates do not offer tax or legal advice. Consumers should consult with their tax advisor or attorney regarding their specific situation. Investment advisory products and services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., a registered investment adviser. Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC © 2016 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.