Congrats! You and your partner had the first of many financial planning conversations. That’s right — the first of many. While forever striking the “money talk” from your checklist may be tempting, we’ll let you in on a secret. The key to reaching your shared savings and investing goals is through continuous communication.
The reason? Because life happens. Workloads increase, unexpected expenses pop up, and then the sudden realization hits: you and your significant other are two months behind in completing your honeymoon savings goal.
Saving for shared goals can be tough.
Let’s take a closer look. In a recent Twine survey, many respondents indicated that life and unexpected expenses simply get in the way. Some experienced bigger life changes like job loss or divorce. Others said that once they started saving, a perceived lack of progress became discouraging.
The takeaway? Despite best intentions to set and maintain financial goals, predicting life’s curveballs is an impossible task (unless you have a crystal ball and in which case, call us if you do.)
Schedule regular “money talks.”
Okay, regular check-ins on shared savings goals may seem like an obvious solution, but isn’t the obvious solution often overlooked?
Consider this: You likely think about how money multiple times throughout a given day. During your commute to work while assessing how much you spent at dinner last night or while reading the latest stock market updates. At work on your laptop, possibly in the midst of an “online shopping break” during lunch, causing you to ponder if you can really afford a new pair of shoes. Even while traveling for work or vacation. The moments for spending money are limitless, so why not hold time to evaluate how to save and invest it?
Equally important is how and where you hold your financial planning conversations. In the same Twine survey, seventy percent of couples said they talked about savings and investing goals when the topic came up sporadically during casual conversations. Only nine percent of respondents set a predetermined meeting time for planning discussions.
Try prioritizing shared financial goal planning with your partner by establishing a dedicated time and place. Remove common distractions like the impulse to check work emails (put that phone down) or tuning out to the latest Netflix series (turn that television off). Even if ten minutes together is all you can manage, a regularly scheduled planning session that is focused on goal management will yield greater results.
Spice is life so still consider what will incentivize both you and your partner to follow through on regular check-ins. Maybe it’s planning your savings and investing goals over a large glass of wine, or treating yourselves to that new Netflix series after your conversation.
You know it’s important to set shared financial goals, but what if you and partner don’t share the same philosophy on saving?
Tension and stress can occur when you and your significant other don’t see eye-to-eye. If your partner identifies as a “spender” while you are an excellent “saver,” try to anticipate moments when they may deviate from the plan. When it happens, we recommend against sending a frustrated text asking about that unexpected bill, or any reaction that could discourage your partner’s commitment to saving. Instead, use your regular time for financial planning
Vice versa, if you are the “spender,” consider your “saver” partner’s pain points to avoid conflict and confusion. Leverage your check-ins to communicate your spending needs and evaluate the trade-offs.
Net-net: You can remain motivated as a team with regular communication that is both open and honest.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
Despite an initial willingness to pool finances to buy that new car or put a down payment on a house, upholding the patience and focus to save for those goals is a challenge. Thirty-nine percent of respondents from our Twine survey saved for one year before throwing in the towel. A year is a very short amount of time when it comes to growing a significant amount of wealth, like a home down payment.
A key thing to remember: financial goals come in many shapes and sizes.
- There is the long-term goal, like sending your kids to college.
- Then there is the medium-term goal, like a down payment on a new home or a vacation fund.
- Medium-term goals are what help to keep us on the straight and narrow as it comes to saving, but also living.
The rule of thumb for how much to spend, and how often, is simple: It’s all about spending within reason as it relates to your goals. To be clear, this approach isn’t about cheating yourself out of concert tickets because you can only save money for that dream home. It’s about having a realistic grasp of the funds you have today, so you can see the trade-offs of spending vs. saving in relation to your financial goals.
Like any good advisor, we want you to grow your money, so we recommend assessing your goals and reminding yourself that saving vs. spending an extra $50 could help you get closer to completion. We also agree that “treating yourself” is something we should feel good about — as long as everyone is aware of the trade-offs. Use your ongoing financial planning discussions to accurately assess those, together.