Friday, February 12, 2016

The Frugal Planner's Weekly Dispatch, Volume 2, Issue 7 -- from Bloomindale resident Chuck Donalies

From: Chuck Donalies, CFP® [] On Behalf Of Chuck Donalies, CFP®
Sent: Friday, February 12, 2016 9:00 AM
Subject: The Frugal Planner's Weekly Dispatch, Volume 2, Issue 7

The Frugal Planner's Weekly Dispatch
Valentine's Day Edition

Volume 2, Issue 7
February 12, 2016

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Valentine's Day is this weekend, which got me thinking about how money affects relationships. Romantic, right?

This photo pretty much sums up our relationship.

Financial stress. Every couple I know has experienced it. In fact,* ranks financial problems as the #1 reason why marriages fail. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, this is a good opportunity to highlight three actions that can reduce financial stress in a relationship.

*Heidi, I only went to to find info for this post. Not for any other reason!

1. Communicate

Everyone I meet with has a unique money history. That's because we're raised in environments with different financial conditions, we have different role models, and we receive differing amounts of education about financial literacy (and from what I've seen there's very little education, but that's a topic for another post). These differences translate into a wide array of attitudes and behaviors about money.

All of this means talking about money isn't easy. Add a significant other to the mix and the issue becomes even more challenging.

You know what helps? Talking to a significant other about your respective money histories (this is also known as communicating). Many couples who meet with me are tense and nervous when we begin talking about money. However, once they get going the mood changes dramatically. It's like a weight has been lifted from their shoulders.

Talk to your significant other about money. It's not as difficult as you think and you'll both be better off.

2. Create Shared Goals

We all have goals. Personally, I'd like to set aside a few hours a week to paint and/or get lost in a videogame. I'm pretty sure my wife doesn't share the same goals. Crazy, right?

Having personal goals is great but it's also important to create short and long-term goals with your significant other. For example, your goals might include sticking to a budget (in order save for a large purchase, such as a house) or scheduling Date Night at least once a month (extremely important if you have children). Every couple will have different goals. The point is to create shared goals and ensure you accomplish them.

Here's our process:
  1. At the beginning of the year, my wife and I get together over coffee or lunch to discuss what we want to accomplish in the coming year.
  2. I log the goals in a shared Google Doc.
  3. We revisit the shared goals every three or four months to ensure we're still on track or if we need to make changes.

3. Set Trigger Points

When you're single it's easy to spend money on whatever you want. Buying that shiny new gadget or going on a shopping spree becomes a bit more tricky when you have a significant other. Purchases, both small and large, can easily derail your shared goals.

The solution? I recommend setting spending limits on dollar amounts that trigger a discussion. For example, spending $6 on coffee, while an expensive habit if you do it every day, may not require a discussion. However, spending $600 on a new iPad would necessitate a discussion prior to purchase.

Every couple's financial situation is different so there's no correct dollar amount that should trigger a discussion. Maybe it's $50, $100, or even $1,000. The point is to agree on an amount that's right for both of you.

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