Some couples handle their finances much like a business would. Discussing financial details and creating a written plan together are two of the steps financial experts recommend most.
Establish What You Have
Whether you’re saving for a down payment or paying down credit card debt, you need to know what you already have before you set financial goals. Review your current joint income and debts and assets. Sit down with financial statements and add up balances and estimated values. Know what the breakdown is of your individual holdings and what the grand total comes to.
Set Financial Goals
What do you both value and agree should be your top financial goals? You may want to pay off student loans first, for example. Also establish savings goals, such as building an emergency fund or saving for a new car. Write down these goals in specific terms and establish a priority list.
Make a Plan
Now that you know your priorities, develop a plan that you can both live with. How much will you set aside each month to put toward a goal? Will the savings come from a joint account and be withdrawn automatically to help you stick to the plan? Figure out the specifics, write them down, and make sure every step in your plan is actionable.
Update Your Plan
Follow up after you’ve put a plan in motion. Personal finance blogger Free Money Finance describes reviewing a presentation that he prepares annually showing his family’s financials. It includes assets, spending categories, growth in net worth, financial issues to discuss and where his wife can find all the key documents. At the beginning of the year the couple establishes a budget and during the summer they review his financial presentation to see how they’re doing and what needs to be tweaked. They work as a team, put goals in writing and review their progress at regular intervals – like any good partnership would.