Money and Relationships: How to Set Financial Goals

Money and Relationships: How to Set Financial Goals

Continuing our series about relationships and finance, it is important to talk about your big financial goals, so let’s look at some pointers.

Agree On The Basics

As you begin your discussion, lay out some big-picture groundwork that you and your spouse can agree on. Figure out where you want to be in 10 years. Ask yourselves what big-ticket items are you want to save for. Look closely at your budget to break some bad spending habits.

From these three simple ideas, you and your spouse can figure out what is financially most important to you as a team.

Keep The Conversation Flowing

Once your framework is laid out, you can continue your discussion periodically. At this point, take any opportunity to talk amongst yourselves: talk to each other over dinner, date night, a lazy Saturday afternoon, etc. Anytime you can check in and discuss how the finances are going for your goals will help you both stay on track. We always recommend setting specific appointments to discuss the finances if you're unable to snag a few seconds here and there.

You can also take advantage of computer programs like Quicken or Moneydance to converse with one another electronically. When both of you can add information to your financial balance sheet on such programs, it becomes simple to update one another on money spent or saved, or bills paid.

Be Honest When Things Get Tough

Finances are never easy, and joint finances are even more difficult. Anytime you feel emotionally overwhelmed, bring it up to your spouse. This feeling can pop up for any reason, so whether you splurged on a pair of shoes or your credit card debt is overwhelming, sharing your concerns is always going to be better than hiding them.

Together, you should be able to figure out a solution to any financial issue — two heads are better than one. And don't forget to cut each other a little slack.

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Ravi Gupta's picture

Ravi Gupta wrote:

Wed, 03/30/2011 - 14:20 Comment #: 1

I think you have some great tips. I would say that you have to be very kind with your partner when trying to get a point across. Feeling will rage and it's important to know when to take things slow. My girlfriend started saving money because I explained to her how much it can help in an emergency and she's so much better for it.

Great article!

-Ravi Gupta

retirebyforty's picture

retirebyforty wrote:

Wed, 03/30/2011 - 20:19 Comment #: 2

I think it's best find someone with similar financial outlook. If you are a saver and investor, you probably should take that into account when looking for your partner. I know it's tough.

Jane's picture

Jane wrote:

Wed, 03/30/2011 - 20:29 Comment #: 3

My guy NEVER saved before he met me, now he's got an ING Investment Savings Account! We want to go to Miami not this December but the following one to celebrate a bunch of family birthdays so that is something we are starting to plan and save for now as it is just one of many things our $$ is going to. So far we're not too far apart on our goals.

Doable Finance's picture

Doable Finance wrote:

Thu, 03/31/2011 - 14:17 Comment #: 4

Setting financial goals are dandy. Some use quite elaborate spreadsheet and databases to set up a budget. They follow it for no more than 2 or 3 months, and then they quit following their own budget as if it never existed. The real solution is consistent motivation. Most folks lack it, otherwise they would not have been in such deep debt and many would not have filed for bankruptcy.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Thu, 03/31/2011 - 16:24 Comment #: 5

Ravi -- good point! Finance discussions can bring up a lot of emotions. Great job on your rational discussion!

Retirebyforty, I agree that finding a financially similar-minded partner can make the relationship and the finances go more smoothly, but when opposites do attract, they can sometimes work off each other's strengths. I was lucky enough to find a saver like myself to marry, but I know couples who are opposites in the financial department who have come to an understanding of one another -- it just takes longer to sort it all out :)

Jane, awesome job on turning that super-spender into a super-saver!

Doable Finance, welcome! Just like a diet or fitness plan, financial goals take motivation, huh? Even those in the worst financial trouble can turn themselves around, though -- just look at Suze Orman -- financial flop to incredibly financially savvy (she's my hero, btw) :)

Finances and Relationships - Taking on Tough Topics | MomVes's picture

Finances and Relationships - Taking on Tough Topics | MomVes wrote:

Sat, 01/21/2012 - 18:00 Comment #: 6

[...] One of the best ways to move forward as a team is to have clear financial goals. [...]