April is kick-off month for the wedding season…a time when many young folks commit to each other ‘until death do us part’. Well, about half of the time, it’s not death that does the parting, but rather divorce. Why is it that so many marriages fail and is there anything that young couples can do to significantly increase the odds of success? Based on my observations, failure or success can often be attributed to two things: communication and money. Stack the odds in your favor by following these seven habits of a healthy marriage:
To start your marriage off on the right foot, set aside a full day to develop an overall financial game plan. The basic elements would include:
- Complete a financial statement. Make a list of all of your assets and liabilities. You’ll want to update your financial statement at least annually.
- Establish your goals. Write short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. A short-term goal might be paying off credit card debt or saving for furniture. A medium-term goal might be saving for a home down payment. A long-term goal might be saving for retirement or a child’s education. Review your goals during your monthly financial reviews. Visit a furniture store in Los Angeles, LAFurniturestore
- Develop a cash management plan. Once you have your financial statement and goals, it’s time to allocate your resources. Start out by assigning savings for each of your goals. You want to make this part of the first ‘expenses’ you pay. Avoid the trap of saving for goals with whatever is left over at the end of the month. Next, list your nondiscretionary expenses such as rent, utilities, and debt payments. With what’s left over, allocate to discretionary spending such as eating out, vacations, etc. Review your spending monthly.
With the basics of your financial strategy in place, let’s focus on ongoing communication and activities.
- Make a daily ‘debrief’ your 1 habit. Get in the habit of setting aside the first 30 minutes when you come home from work to simply talk about your day. Each person should take a turn and use a full fifteen minutes. This may sound odd to newlyweds, but many marriages quickly shift into coming home, turning on the TV and drifting apart.
- Establish a Monthly Financial Review Night. Establish the habit of sitting down together once a month to review your finances. It’s best to have a set date such as the first Thursday of each month. Review what you actually spent last month versus what you expected and look several months ahead for any unusual expenses that might require special planning.
- Do basic estate planning. This includes having wills drawn as well as a durable power of attorney and advanced healthcare directive. These should be reviewed every couple of years.
- Get Professional help. Managing the family finances can be a daunting affair and for most couples, it takes a couple of years to become proficient. Don’t wait for little problems to become big problems. If you’re having trouble, seek the help of a Certified Financial Planner.