Marriage and Money: Financial Freedom Plan for Couples
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It’s hard to map out something without some sort of destination.
Having a financial game plan is a big part of reaching your goals and it can help you two develop ways to communicate effectively.
Start with Your Why
You can start off by creating a list of goals you two wish to achieve in 1, 5, and 10 years.
You two really need to think about what you value as individuals and as a couple.
- Do you want to eventually own a house in the country or do you want a condo in the city?
- Do you want to not lay roots and travel?
- Do you like to have some gadgets or do you want to save to go have unique experiences?
- Do either one of you want to start a business?
- Do you guys want kids down the road?
Asking these questions can allow you to build something together instead of making it up as you go.
It can save you some headaches in the long run. You also learn about each of your money personalities.
Use this opportunity as a way to talk about the differences up front.
Our Financial Goals
- Have no debt except for our mortgage. Currently, we don’t have credit card debt or car payments. The only debt left right now are my student loans, which have a low-interest rate.
- Have a steady mobile income of $50,000/year or more. If we have no debts except a mortgage this would work well for us as we live a pretty simple life. This income can from freelance work (which is my main source of income now), working remotely, or passive income developed from the products we create.
Building a Financial Plan Together
- Share with each other a list of your debts and assets. You need to have a clear idea of what your starting point is to have a plan as a couple. Don’t lie about the amount of debt you have, if you’re on the same page you can both work down on paying down your debt.
- Create a budget or spending plan together. Your first couple of times doing a budget together will be wrong. All couples have to go through this as they are merging their money, bills, and goals. My personal tip is to add 15% to your budget for things like car repairs, rental insurance, etc. Both of you should have a say on where the money goes.
- Open a joint account together. Our main accounts are joint accounts and we both have access to the individual accounts in case of emergencies. I know some couple have separate accounts, but having some money pooled together encourages you two to talk. Consider having a joint savings account for some mutual goals, like a house down payment. I also recommend saving up for at least an annual vacation for the two of you. It doesn’t have to be grand or exotic, you just want to get away from it all and spend time together.
- Make paying off debt a priority. Look again at your spending plan and see how much money each month goes towards debt. If you can eliminate that, you can spend that money instead on your dreams and goals. Use either a debt snowflake, snowball, or even an avalanche to work your way to being debt free.
- Build an emergency fund. Start small and tuck away one months’ expenses. you can then automate a small monthly deposit into your savings while you eliminate your high-interest debt. Marriage, just like life, has some unexpected events so having an emergency fund can relieve a lot of stress and tension.
- Rent an affordable apartment. Please try to keep your rent as reasonable as possible. If you are in a marriage with a lot of debt already, having a modest amount for rent can be a huge way for you to have money to pay down debt. You can always upgrade later, but it hard to downgrade. We had a very small first apartment (ask our friends), but we were able to pay off the car loan faster and later we upgraded to a more spacious place.
- Drive used cars. I wish I didn’t have that car loan when we first got married. It was an annoying monthly bill that decreased our cash flow and slowed us down on building our savings. Owning a car also means car insurance, gasoline, and maintenance bills. If you have a car that is relatively dependable and you own it, that’s a great win. If you live in a city with a good transportation system, then use it.
- Set up free online bill pay with your bank. Most banks and credit unions offer this money and time-saving feature. Spend an hour setting up your free online bill pay with your bills, account numbers, due dates, and amounts, and you’ll only need a few minutes a month to keep it up. Automating our finances has a great step for us.
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Your Take on Building Your Finances as a Couple
I'd love to hear from you on how you do things. What goals are you working on together?
How do you handle your finances and goals as a couple? Do you have any stories about what worked and what didn’t work with you?
Great list for setting a financial game plan w/ your partner. It is very important to do planning together, something my wife and I did not do for quite a while. Now that we do, things go a lot smoother.
I agree RC! It was hard at first for us to get it done since we were adjusting to being a couple. After a while though it’s become much easier and now it’s just a normal part of our conversations.
Hi Elle – Thanks for sharing your post. How are the new digs treating ya? Also, any way you can install a Retweet button, or Sexy Bookmarks plug-in so I can easily share your posts? Gracias
I appreciate the suggestion Sam and I added the tweet plugin. Thanks for the support!
As for the new place, we’re slowly getting everything ready. We’re moving the small stuff ourselves and will have a painting party soon. After we paint, we’ll move in early part of February.
I think sharing your goals is so important. My girlfriend and I have been pretty transparent with money over the past 3 years and it’s nice knowing there are no secrets (hopefully!).
Great post, Elle.
It’s always better when you have open communication in a relationship. At least if you have it out in the open, you can work on any problems that come up.
Awesome post–I think a lot more couples are realizing the importance of getting everything on the table up front and at least being aware of what the other person is bringing into the relationship.
While many people are now realizing the importance of and doing the things you outline in your “building a plan together” section, I think the key to financial success as a couple is at the start of your post–creating a list of goals by asking lots of questions.
My wife and I developed a list of over 30 topics we discussed over a long period of time, getting our goals and dreams out on the table and evident to the other person. It definitely beats the surprise of discovering, 10 years down the road, that your spouse actually wants to do X or Y, while you thought he/she was heading to Z. 🙂
Got here from Yakezie member post. Enjoyed the post there and think your goals are both attainable and admirable. I’ve found that by writing down financial/personal goals, there’s a sort of energy behind them. Most of my goals, through persistence and discipline come throught.
Thanks Barb for your encouragement. We’re doing it step by step and sometimes it’s hard. I try to remind myself why we’re doing it and I’m energized to keep going.
Elle, i really love the 8 steps mentioned above as a guide to developing a financial game plan. Working together with one’s spouse as par financial related matters sure keeps the union strong. Though am still single but i plan to open a joint account in addition to my private account with my wife so that we can pull resources together when we wnat to excute major projects.
I sometimes find it hard to keep to my budget and spending plan. How do you stay faithful to your own budget plans?
Thanks for sharing.
@Iretipaul: Good question! We’ve automated almost all of our necessary expenses. What’s left over is for family groceries, personal expenses, and fun money.
It has greatly reduced the time spent on keeping track of our budget and we’ve been able to stay on course. ING Direct has been a huge help for us.