5 Long-Term Financial Planning Tips for Couples
Financial planning is easy when there's only one person to consider. But adding a partner to the mix can add some complexity to the mix. The good news is, financial planning for a couple can be more effective since there are often two individuals contributing and working toward shared goals.
Here are five long-term financial planning tips to make the most of money management with a partner.
1. Be transparent with assets and debt — Transparency is number one when it comes to finances. Unexpected surprises with debt or hidden assets can quickly cause a rift between partners. During an initial financial planning conversation, lay it all out there, assets to debts. Understanding where both partners are starting from financially can be a huge eye-opener, and it also enables them to get on board with working toward the same goals.
2. Set goals as a team — When couples start to get serious about discussing finances, they're often planning to be together for the long haul. That means it's critical to do financial planning with that in mind. Even if one partner is the primary or sole breadwinner, both people should have a say in shared goals.
Goal-setting is most effective when broken down by short, medium, and long-term goals. For example, the short-term goal bucket may be next year's family vacation, the medium goal could be saving for a down payment on a new home in five years, then long-term would hold things like retirement savings.
3. Put protection in place — It can be challenging for couples, especially newlyweds, to think about their partner no longer being around. But conversations about life insurance need to happen, especially if there are any shared financial responsibilities, such as a mortgage. Couples can consider options like term or whole life insurance, which offers a death benefit payout if the policyholder passes away. But a whole life insurance policy also has a savings component that can provide a cash value account the couple can tap later in life, too.
4. Focus on retirement savings — As the saying goes, the days are long, but the years go fast. Whether couples are ready for it or not, they may approach retirement more quickly than imagined. There's rarely a good reason to delay retirement savings. The sooner a couple begins to save, the more time compound interest works in their favor.
5. Plan for emergencies — Emergency savings act as a financial buffer between a financial plan and life's unexpected, yet costly, surprises. Yes, of course, it's possible to optimize where every dollar goes. But if life throws a flat tire or medical bill in the mix, the plan can go off the rails.
That's why it's critical for every long-term financial plan to contain an emergency fund. The general recommendation is to have about six months of living expenses set aside in cash. But as a couple ages and their financial situation changes, that number could grow or shrink, accordingly.
The Bottom Line — For some couples, financial planning may be stressful. But keeping the focus on key areas like transparency, goal-setting, protection, retirement, and emergency savings may make the planning process more straightforward. Remember that looping in a financial professional is always on the table too. Sometimes the unbiased voice of a financial advisor can help couples get on the same page.