The list of tips comes from a “Love and Money” workshop that is part of MetLife’s workplace-based PlanSmart Financial Education series. Launched in 2008, the series offers a selection of workshops relevant to employees of varying ages and career stages. The workshops fulfill employees’ interest in financial education and planning help in the workplace, and address a variety of topics such as Investing 101, planning for college, and estate and retirement planning.
MetLife PlanSmart Top 10 Financial Tips for Couples
1. Learn about your partner’s financial situation before committing to a long-term relationship. Talk to them about their credit score, debt, and how you will handle larger financial issues as a couple.
2. Adopt the “yours, mine, and ours” approach to joint accounts. Set up a joint account to manage your money collaboratively, with monthly payments directed to individual accounts that allow each person to spend some money as they choose.
3. Determine who will be responsible for paying bills, balancing the checking account, and researching large purchases, based on each of your talents and needs. It’s okay to make changes as you go along if one person becomes too busy or isn’t doing a good job.
4. Establish shared financial goals for both the short and long term, and how you will work together as a couple to achieve them. If you need to, seek the advice of a financial professional to help you set your priorities.
5. Create a budget that allows you to track how you spend money as a couple and reflects your individual spending habits. Don’t use the budget to force your own habits onto your partner or to blame your partner for spending too much.
6. Work together to pay off existing debt, and understand the difference between good and bad debt. Be careful that you don’t take on too much debt, good or bad, as too much of either kind still hurts your financial security.
7. Discuss your individual levels of risk tolerance and identify a level that you are both comfortable with. Make sure to take the time horizon for your investments into account.
8. Avoid keeping financial secrets from your partner, which can create feelings of distrust and betrayal. Honest and open communication about financial matters is best.
9. Be a team player. If you and your partner earn different salaries, don’t point out your partner’s lack of income or brag about your paycheck. Look at other contributions the lower-earning partner makes to the household.
10. Carve out a dedicated time to have specific discussions about your financial situation and how to improve it at least four times a year.
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