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Financial Wellness Series: The 'Money Talk'

Being in a committed relationship with your chosen life partner can be very thrilling - especially at the beginning when everything is new and exciting. Over time, however, issues may pop up that can make cohabitation uncomfortable. Experts will tell you that communication is the key to a happy relationship. Given that many relationships fail due to financial issues, good communication must include talking about money.

Combining financial lives requires an open conversation between partners to ensure that you are aligned in your feelings about money. For example, how do you feel about debt? Saving for retirement? How does spending money on vacations, cars, etc. fall into your priorities? Does your partner feel the same?

The ‘money talk’ doesn’t have to be onerous or confrontational. We suggest you begin by talking about your dreams (always fun), settle on the goals (short-, mid-, and long-term) you want to commit to, and then figure out how to attain them. Part of the ‘figuring out’ process should include a more in-depth discussion about what’s important to each of you about money. Below are some suggested topics to review with your partner:

  • Shared expenses: It should not be assumed that expenses will be shared equally especially if one income is higher than the other.
  • Saver versus spender: Setting goals and having a cash flow plan can really help keep each partner happy.
  • Outstanding personal debt: If you are bringing debt into the relationship, be sure to include this in the overall financial planning process.
  • Credit score: It is best to share any history of financial challenges with your partner. Together you can work on strategies to improve the rating.
  • Donations:  Giving money to charities is very important to some people. If a large portion of income is being donated by one partner, it is wise to have a conversation around this with the other partner.
  • Financial commitments to family: If a portion of income is going to support kids from a previous marriage or perhaps financially dependent parents, this should be disclosed to your partner
  • Income tax: Will you file separately or jointly?
  • Will and Power of Attorney: These are important legal documents to have. Ensure they are up-to-date with your current wishes.
  • Insurance: If your household runs on both incomes, it is important to ensure that there is enough personal life and lifestyle protection insurance in place in case one of you is unable to work due to injury or illness, or if you die prematurely. Also, ensure that beneficiary designations are current on both personal and group insurance.

Whether you are just entering into your relationship or you have been together for awhile, it is extremely valuable to have a shared understanding of money and commitment to your financial goals. This is where the help of a professional financial advisor can help, especially if there are a lot of differences in your feelings about money or there are complicated issues like inheritances to deal with.

People rarely create and keep wealth by accident. A financial plan will give you the confidence to reach for your shared goals and dreams. As life happens and goals change, revisit your plan. Double check your needs and wants along the way. And remember, communication is the key. An objective third party, like a professional financial advisor, can help you navigate the ins of outs of creating a financial plan that works for both of you.

Stonebrooke Private Wealth Management provides advanced financial advice with the goal of helping their clients to Plan, Protect and Grow their wealth.

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