Although discussing money may not be the most romantic conversation in the world, it is important to periodically review your family’s finances. As things change over the years, your budget and your financial needs are likely to change too. It’s important to discuss your goals and your current financial status and make necessary changes.
As your family grows and your needs change, you may want to allocate more money to savings or retirement, or you may need more cash flow to cover specific expenses. Don’t avoid conversations about money, even if they are uncomfortable. Talking about your situation is the first step to developing a financial plan. Here are some examples of times when a family’s budget may need some reviewing:
- When you make any major purchase that is going to require payments, review how to budget for this each month. For example, when you purchase a new house you’ll need to devise a specific budget to cover your expenses each month.
- As children grow, your budget will need to accommodate their changing needs. When they are young, you’ll need to cover a lot of added expenses such as diapers. There’s also a college fund to consider. Even adult children can be expensive if you plan to cover wedding expenses or want to be available to loan money occasionally. As your children transition to new phases in their life, continue assessing your financial situation.
- Aging parents may require financial assistance. It’s important to discuss what sort of support you want to provide to your parents or other aging family members over time.
- Any time you change jobs, experience a change in income or make a career change, it makes sense to discuss your finances.
- As you near retirement, review your finances and your goals.
Most couples don’t talk enough about money and their financial goals. It’s important to discuss your budget, not just when you fall on tough times but when you experience a surplus too. For example, if you receive a raise, how do you want to spend your extra money?
Make Discussing Money a Priority
Although you might discuss the bills regularly, it is important to review your overall finances on a regular basis. Consider setting a date to discuss your finances together. Schedule a date at least every three months in order to stay on top of your family’s changing needs. Review how you are doing with your budget and discuss possible changes.
Set Financial Goals
It’s important to set goals and then change them as needed. Maybe you once dreamed of living in an RV, but now you just want to go on a vacation. Update your goals as your priorities change. Retirement savings may be a priority at some times and less of a priority at others. Saving for home remodels, working less hours, buying a better car, or paying off a credit card may be goals that change over time.
Review Your Budget
If you don’t have a budget, you won’t likely meet your financial goals. It’s important to know how much money is coming in and how much is going out each month. Establish a monthly budget and then periodically review it. Determine if you are sticking to the budget or if you are having difficulty staying on target. Is one of you sticking to the budget while the other one isn’t? If so, it is important to discuss this and make changes accordingly. If one person isn’t on board with the current budget, it probably isn’t going to be successful.
It’s important to work together to meet your financial goals. If you don’t discuss your goals, it’s likely you’ll be working against each other instead of in cooperation. For example, if you want a new car, you might be trying to save money but your partner who enjoys shopping may be spending it as fast as you can save it. If you struggle to work together on a budget, consider meeting with a financial advisor. This can be helpful if you both agree on similar goals and just need help getting there.
If you and your partner seem to have different values about spending and saving and it is causing conflict, consider marriage counseling. Marriage counseling can help you work together even if you don’t agree on all of your spending habits. Learning how to take control over your finances can help ensure that your money won’t control you. Unfortunately, many couples struggle to make ends meet partially because they don’t work together on a financial plan.