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My wife and I started dated a few years ago and we were hopping from her apartment to mine on and off until her lease came due.
This was only three months in our relationship. We decided to move in together, after dating only three months, and it has been a bliss ever since.
Opening Up About Money
Rushing into co-habitation meant that we had to talk a bit more about a major thing that some couples simply shush about; Money.
We did not run to the bank to open a joint account nor did we open spousal retirement plans but we did talk, very openly, about our finances.
I think that is an important aspect of living with one and other and especially a critical thing to do before marriage.
Talk about where you are at, where you want to be, and how are you getting there.
Where You’re At
When we started talking about our personal finances, we shared our salaries, our budgets, and any existing debts and savings we had.
By knowing where you are both standing, you can then develop a plan together to reach your common goals.
Luckily, we were standing at similar levels, neither of us had huge debts and we were both starting small savings.
Budget-wise, I was spending more on things like clothes and nights out while my wife was spending more on restaurants and the daily coffees.
We had a similar budget so it was fairly simple to re-align to our common goals but when a couple has drastically different spending habits or if one is a saver while the other a spender, things can get tricky.
Being open to the conversation is really where it all starts. We sat down and talked about our money way before any joint ownership or joint accounts. This way, there was no surprises once that came around.
Where You Want To Be
Now that we had talked about our current situations, it was time to envision our common goals and ambitions.
Back then, we only had a few short-term goals such as buying a new car, saving more for our emergency fund, and going on a trip abroad.
This was only the beginning but once we discovered the possibilities of early retirement and financial independence, we were able to join forces and really push towards this vision.
We both searched into the topic and had many talks about the financial concepts, the mentality and the budgeting behind all of this.
Finally, we decided we wanted to be financially independent and retire by our late 30s.
By the time we were both committed to this new goal, we already had cars, a house, and full of stuff!
Our previous goals were to buy all this stuff but the more we discovered the possibilities of early retirement, the less stuff we wanted.
To be able to save a large chunk of our incomes (we currently save and invest over half our incomes) we revised our budget and stopped buying so much stuff.
Again, communication is key. Sit down together (or lie down together under big covers if it is as cold as up here in Canada) and talk about your common goals.
How are You Going to Get There?
Once you have determined your common goals, the first step to achieving them is to see how realistic they are.
If you want to save a million dollars before retirement, great! How much will you need to save every month to get there?
If your goal is to pay off debt, great! Research a debt repayment strategy that works for both of you (such as debt snowball or avalanche) and plow at it!
Your goals can be big or small, short-term or long-term, as long as you communicate your goals with each and other.
This will open your relationship to new possibilities and make sure that you two are not going against each other but together towards your common goals.
Then, create a game plan. This can be in the form of a budget using Mint or Personal Capital or even an Excel spreadsheet to track your goal.
The execution of your game plan depends, again, on communication. We discuss our investment, our achievements, our failures, and it keeps us accountable.
If you need a little help getting started, we are more than happy to offer Free Life and Financial Coaching to all CoupleMoney’s readers!
Simply write us your concerns and we will happily guide you via email or by phone.
This post is from Xyz who writes over at Our Financial Path. He and his wife are aiming to reach financial independence and retire early in less than 10 years.
They write about their travel adventures, their investments, budgeting, and their views about life over at ourfinancialpath.com.