How to Set Financial Goals with Your Spouse - dummies

How to Set Financial Goals with Your Spouse

By Ryan P. Zacharczyk, CFP®, MBA CRPC

The most common reason in the U.S. for fighting between husband and wife — and even divorce — is money. Although personal finances can create problems with your spouse, money issues don’t have to break up your marriage. Setting financial goals and planning for their accomplishment will go a long way to solving your money disputes.

When setting goals with your spouse, follow these simple steps:

  1. Communicate: This is obviously important not only with money, but also with all things in your marriage. When setting financial goals with your spouse, communicate exactly what each of you wants. Most married couples just assume that the other spouse agrees with his or her opinion on finances. The truth is far from it.

  2. Agree on common goals and compromise on individual goals: Begin the process by sitting down and writing each of your financial goals for 20 years, 5 years, 3 years, and 1 year. Put your goals in order of priority. Which is more important to save for, the kid’s college or the flat screen TV? Then, share your goals with each other.

    It’s important that you come to an agreement on family goals as a first priority. Once you have determined, as a couple, what is best for the whole family, you can discuss individual goals.

    You may have to compromise individual goals to establish common goals. She may want to get her nails done once a week, and you may want to play poker with the guys once a week. However, funds may be limited, and you cannot afford both. How about a compromise: She gets her nails done twice a month, and you play poker twice a month. Determine what goals are most important to each of you and work together to accomplish those goals.

  3. Work together to move toward your goals: This should now be a team effort. You have agreed upon goals, communicated, and compromised. Now is the time to work together to achieve them. Keep each other focused on what’s important. Focus all of your efforts on accomplishing these goals. If there is any kind of financial windfall, you now know where money can be allocated.

  4. Rewards: Set up small rewards for when your goals are accomplished. This should be the fun part of working together. When milestones are reached, enjoy a nice evening out together or for really big goals, take a trip. The key is to give yourselves motivation and positive feelings about accomplishing your goals. That is what will keep you pushing through challenging times.