Many newlyweds treat the topic of money as a sure sign the honeymoon’s over. But according to Schwab Financial Planners LisAnne Beard and Ada Kok, an early meeting of the minds about finances is key to fostering a lasting union. “It’s important that you see eye to eye on financial matters right from the beginning,” LisAnne says. Here are their top tips for a prosperous partnership.
- Start off on the right foot. Have a conversation about money early on—“the earlier the better,” Ada says. Address any outstanding debt on both sides, create a plan for paying it down and establish a monthly budget that includes saving toward major financial goals like a new home or retirement.
- Get comfortable talking about money. Financial decisions are rarely “one and done.” Make money matters—large and small—a monthly topic of discussion.
- Agree to no secrets. A marriage is a partnership. You wouldn’t hide cash or accounts from your business partner, and that applies equally to your spouse. It’s not uncommon to maintain separate accounts, of course, but by all means be transparent about them.
- Invest together. You and your spouse may have different levels of sophistication and experience when it comes to investing, so take a holistic approach to all of your investments and make decisions with a mutual understanding of the rewards and risks.
- Plan for the unexpected. Give each other power of attorney and make your spouse your health care proxy and beneficiary. Otherwise, critical decisions can fall to others or assets can go to previously named beneficiaries. What’s more, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) left to spouses typically receive a more favorable tax treatment. Finally, be sure to share user names and passwords in case one of you becomes incapacitated.
The bottom line: The strongest unions are based on honesty—and financial matters are no different.