“I can choose peace, rather than this.”
Pretty powerful, huh? It’s a quote from Wayne Dyer, the spiritual writing and speaker. It’s a good introduction into the topic of couples and personal finances. Sometimes, the process is not peaceful….
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Here’s another image that can get you thinking about this subject. I was working our at the gym, and ran into a guy in his 20s that I see there frequently. He has this large tattoo on the inside of his left forearm:
“B = f (P + E)”
I asked him what it meant. Here’s his definition:
Behavior = Function of (Personality + Environment)
I think this quote is a perfect way to improve the communication between couples that are trying to plan and invest.
One person, then two
The challenge for couples is really a two-step process. First, each person needs to be honest about who they are. Here’s what I mean:
- Organization: How organized are you? Every investor needs to gather all of their debt and investments, as well as their monthly expenses. All of this information is needed to create a budget. How hard will that task be for you? Do you know where your records are? Do you reconcile your bank account each month?
- Initiator: Are you the type of person who takes action easily? If not, do you have a partner who is an initiator/ starter?
- Methodical: Once you create a plan, will you stick with it? Again, if that’s not your nature, consider whether or not your partner has that trait.
Each of these traits is important when planning and implementing an investing plan.
Once you consider the traits listed above, realize that a couple must have open communication. I was stunned to read that an estimated 13 million Americans have a checking, savings or credit card account that they hide from their partner.
It reminded me of the first 30 minutes of the movie This Is 40. In some ways, the couple, Pete and Debbie, isn’t being honest with each other. They start to realize that they need to have better communication. So, in one scene, Pete throws away candy and sweets that he craves, and Debbie throws away her cigarettes.
If you and your partner go through the work of creating a budget, be honest with each other. Put everything on the table, so you can move forward and succeed financially.
So, what’s the plan?
Once the two of you get on the same page, here’s a game plan:
- Use the Reddit personal finance outline to outline your plan.
- Create a budget. You can write out your monthly take home pay and your monthly expenses on notebook paper. If you need to find a tool or mobile app to stay on top of your budgeting, all the better.
- Take sensible budget cuts: Separate your monthly spending into discretionary (variable) spending and fixed expenses. Take a hard look at your variable expenses and make some cuts.
- Create a savings account and fund it every month.
- Consider your personal risk tolerance and think about how you can start investing.
When you start down the investment road, make sure you’re on the road together. Just as the tattoo formula says, you need to consider your own personality- and the environment between you and your partner.
As always, this post is written for educational purposes only. Consult with a tax advisor, investment representative or attorney as needed.
Have used any of these ideas? I’d love to hear from you.
Author: Cost Accounting for Dummies, Accounting All-In-One for Dummies, The CPA Exam for Dummies and 1,001 Accounting Questions for Dummies
(website and blog) http://www.accountingaccidentally.com/
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Wall Street Two Signs
Terrapin Flyer, Wall Street (CC BY-SA 2.0)