You're in love! Finally, you've updated your profile to "In a Relationship." No more attending your friend's wedding solo or showing up to Grandma's birthday as the "single one." The benefits of having that special someone are countless, and one of those benefits should be financial stability. Whether you have a steady live-in partner, a fiancé, or a spouse, your finances should be a topic of daily conversations--not daily arguments. If you're new to living with two incomes, you're probably surprised by how nice it is! Two heads are better than one, they say, and so are two salaries. But how do you merge those salaries effortlessly? Here are a few strategies to keep your pennies pinched and your minds at ease.

The "CFO" Approach
In this approach, one person would be designated as the Chief Financial Officer of the relationship. Just like any successful business, a successful relationship needs an appointed financial advisor. This strategy is great for those "opposites attract" couples, in which one person is a penny-pincher and the other an impulsive spender. It would be wise to allow the penny-pincher of the relationship to be the CFO and take charge of monitoring statements, establishing a budget, paying bills, and distributing their other half a reasonable allowance each month--reasonable being the key word to success.

The "Yours and Mine" Approach
This financial strategy works great for couples who have separate career lives and enjoy separate checking accounts. Especially for couples living together without a legally binding relationship, keeping separate finances could be beneficial later if your relationship were ever to end; benefits include less paperwork to cancel joint accounts, avoiding financial disputes, and protection from a vengeful ex. Even married couples or couples in civil unions might prefer separate accounts. This allows each person to maintain their financial independence and keep track of where their money goes.

For couples that choose to keep their funds separate, make sure to talk about who is responsible for what bills or how expenses will be shared. It's also a good idea to establish an agreement or goal for savings and spending, so nobody gets out of control and affects the other's finances.

The "Rotating Finance Advisor" Approach
This strategy is my personal favorite and the method my husband and I use to handle our finances. In this model, each person is allowed to be in charge of finances on a rotating basis. How you rotate is up to you: try each month, each yearly quarter, or even every year. This rotation allows both people to be responsible for bill-paying, budget-setting, savings goals, and spending amounts, but at different times. It would be wise to compare how each person's approach is different, and how it affects your wallet. When my husband is in charge, for example, we tend to save more money. When I am in charge, we have a lot more fun.

The "Couldn't Be Bothered" Approach
This approach to handling finances is great for those couples with a certain amount of disposable income and who are both fairly poor at budgeting. It's an easy approach: Hire a financial advisor. If your partner and you have the means but not the interest, it might be wise to hire some help. This is also a good option if it's time to look at investment ideas and retirement plans.

Of course, these are only a few ideas for merging two incomes. Each couple should create their own strategy that works best for them. No matter what your approach is, remember communication is vital, and sticking to an agreed budget is necessary for success. Most importantly, be open about your finances to protect your relationship and your financial future.

Photo by Thomas Berg via cc

 

Having a baby can be a shock to your financial system. It was most definitely a shock to ours! As our precious baby girl turns a year old, her college savings account is in the four figures. The saving success we experienced was due in large part to the generosity of others. There are financial institutions and non-profit organizations that assist in direct gift-giving into your baby's college fund. Our friends and family were able to give directly to her 529 college savings plan account ("529"). A 529 is an education savings plan designed to help families save for future college costs. Skip the noisy toys and fancy outfits on your baby shower registry, and advocate people give a gift that will grow with your little one.

Why 529?
There are many saving vehicles that parents can use to save for college, but 529 plans are normally a better deal for most savers. While both 529 plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts have non-deductible contributions with the benefit of tax-free growth for future qualified educational expenses, Coverdell has a yearly contribution limit, and there are income restrictions to owning a Coverdell. Qualifying U.S. Savings Bonds contributions are tax-deferred, but there are also income restrictions, and the only qualifying expenses are tuition and related fees. Unlike Coverdell, 529 plans, do not have income or age restrictions. With 529, the owner isn’t limited to how much money they make, and they can contribute a large amount per beneficially comparatively. Custodial Accounts, known as UGMAs (for the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act), are certainly another option with no contribution limits, but the beneficiary will own the account at 18 or 21 (depending on the state).

Resources
Once you've decided to open a 529 and know what plan works best for you, there are online resources to help the money start rolling in.

Savingforcollege.com is a great resource for choosing the right savings plan for your future high achiever. It has a variety of information on methods to college saving to understanding financial aid packages. For the best and worst performing 529 plans, for example, you will be able to find that information at savingforcollege.com.

Collegesavings.org also gives great information on college savings methods, such as college cost calculators and comparing 529 plans by state.

Gradsavegifts.org is a non-profit online college savings registry. It also has a free gift-giving service that links your already existing 529 college savings plan account. It also has an easy-to-use social media to help spread the news. A big pro to this registry is that givers can use their debit or credit card, as well as input their bank account information to make a donation. A con is that if a giver uses a credit card, the registry takes the credit or debit card transaction fee out of the donation and leave the child will get the remaining balance. All deposits are processed once a month.

Once you chose a financial institution to contribute to a 529 plan, the plans inherently make it easy for friends and family to contribute directly to the beneficiary’s account. Ask your financial institution for more information.

Even if chronic child care costs are taking much, if not all, of your discretionary funds the first year, there are always ways to start preparing for their future. At an 8% college inflation rate, the cost of college doubles every nine years. For us, that means college expenses will be more than three times current rates by her high school graduation year. Save often and early will be the key to providing a bright future for the next generation.

Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing in a 529 college savings plan.

Photo by AngryJulie Monday via cc.

When I graduated in 2012, I landed an incredible job. It was 2,496 miles away, but it was an amazing opportunity, so I packed my car. Moving across the country can be a great, fun-filled adventure full of pretty mountains, deep valleys, and loads of singing in the car, despite the inconvenience. However, there are a few things to keep in mind though so everything turns out as easy-peasy and stress-free as possible.

Junk it or trunk it?
Chances are you’re moving to take your first job or start college. If this is the case, you may not have much stuff. Excellent! If you can fit everything in your car, you’ve just saved yourself a massive headache. If you have just a little too much to fit in your car and your move is short-term or indefinite, consider leaving what won’t fit with friends or family or selling it. Whatever you can’t sell, you can donate and use a tax deduction. Make sure and get a receipt.

If renting a truck is your only option, first determine how big of a truck you’ll need, then shop around to check rates so you get the best deal. Typically, trailers rent for much less than trucks. If that’s an option, it may save you some money.

A little love
Your car will need a little love before you pack up and leave. You’re about to put thousands of miles on your car, and the last thing you want is to be stuck on the side of the road with a car full of stuff and a flat tire. No fun. Take your tires in to get checked, and if you’re due for an oil change, now if a good time to check that off the list. You’ll also want to check all of your fluid levels: windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, and power steering. Check out this handy-dandy guide for doing so yourself if you don’t have money to spend on a mechanic.

On the road
This is where it’s going to add up. Before you leave, check online for gas prices. Sites like FuelMyRoute.com, will show you gas prices along your route so you can find the cheapest places to stop. You may have already checked an online gas mileage calculator to get an idea of how much gas money you’ll be spending, but whatever number it told you, it’s wrong. Your gas mileage is going to drop like a watermelon on a soufflé. Same goes if you’re towing something behind you or driving a rental truck. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 100 pounds of weight added to your car can reduce your mileage per gallon by 2%. When it comes to hotels, you may be tempted to book them ahead of time. If you’re going to do that, make sure they’re refundable. You never know how your trip is going to go. You may unexpectedly stop to see a waterfall, get tied up at lunch, or have car trouble. The last thing you want to worry about is losing money on a hotel room you'll never use.

Grab bag

  • Save even more money by remembering a few tips:
  • As soon as you know you’re moving, start saving boxes. Check with local restaurants, grocery stores, and retailers or ask a friend that works at one. Purchasing boxes can be super spendy.
  • Keep your donation receipts in a folder that can easily be found on tax day.
  • Speaking of taxes, if you’ve relocated and have expenses beyond what your new company reimbursed you for, you can write off those expenses too!
  • Don’t forget to fill out a change of address with the USPS and snap valuable coupons.

Moving isn't cheap, but with a little planning and careful budgeting, it can be manageable – and set you up for a fresh start without dipping into the red.

 Photo by Jessica Spengler via cc.

Home ownership can be a rewarding experience, from not having to answer to a landlord to turning a big part of your living expenses into an actual investment. And knowing that your rigorous savings efforts have finally resulted in an ample down payment is an unquestionably satisfying feeling. But before you start shopping for your new home, consider the following: To be financially ready for home ownership, you need more than just that initial 20% payment at closing. Here’s an overview of the savings you should have in place before you go from renting to buying.

An emergency fund
Before you sign that contract, make sure you have an emergency fund to pay for a full six months of expenses in the event that you’re unable to work. This fund should cover essentials like your expected mortgage payment, real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, car payment, groceries, medical costs (including insurance), utilities, and property maintenance.

A home repairs fund
No matter the age of your new home, expect to face both short-term and long-term repairs. Something as simple as a leaky pipe or faucet – which can happen out of nowhere – can cost you a few hundred dollars unexpectedly. And larger jobs, like roofing or heating system repairs, can easily exceed the $1,000-mark. Before you buy, set some money aside in a home repairs fund so you’re not caught off guard or forced to take out a loan.

Money for closing costs
Though you may be able to roll your closing costs into your mortgage (spreading them out into manageable payments), not every lender employs this practice. To be safe, put some money aside to cover your closing costs, which are typically 2%-5% of a home’s purchase price. That means if you’re buying a $300,000 home, you’ll need an additional $6,000 to $15,000 up-front to complete your real estate transaction.

A moving expenses fund
Unless you have a shockingly small amount to transport, there’s a good chance you’ll need to rent a moving truck or even hire professional movers to help you relocate to your new home. Truck costs vary with size and company, and remember you'll be responsible for fuel. Professional movers can cost around $100 per hour for fairly local move (meaning, from a city to a nearby suburb), although this price could go up for heavy furniture and extra manpower. And while some local moves are completed in less than half a day’s time, others can take eight hours or longer.

A down payment for a car
If you’re moving from a city to the suburbs, you’ll most likely need a car to go along with your new home. While you can opt for a used vehicle to lower this expense, be warned that you’ll probably wind up spending more on maintenance than you would with a new car. In 2012, the average down payment for a car was $3,435, so plan accordingly, and remember to factor your auto loan payments into your monthly budget.

Photo by Mark Moz via cc.

If you’re expecting a child, you’ve likely been told the whole business is expensive – about $245,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some baby expenses are obvious, but others might surprise you. Check out these basic – and yet overlooked – items that should be included your budget.

Nutrition
You want the best for your child, including and starting with what you feed them. Whether you sought out organic and natural options before parenthood, you might shell out the extra cash for high quality food once you have children. If you work, have multiple kids, or are otherwise strapped for time, you will also shell out for more expensive snacks and foods that can be taken on the road. And do you think small people have small stomachs? Wait until your one-year-old hits a growth spurt and downs an entire steak or your skinny two-year-old demolishes a meal from the adult menu during your next night out (true story). Before you panic, check out these 14 tips to trim food bill costs from family experts.

Education
If you think education is something you don’t have to worry about until college, think again – many parents shell out thousands for preschools, on top what they spent during the first three years of childcare. There isn’t a clear-cut way around this expense, but remember to take the cost of local schools into account when you buy a home or move. Creative professional solutions, such as telecommuting a few days a week or becoming a stay-at-home parent, may also help your family balance the budget. Your income may shrink, but so do childcare costs and bills for everything from dry cleaning to gas-guzzling commutes.

Clothing
The ranch hat. The beach sunglasses. The shoes. Turns out little people need just as many accessories as adults do. Yes, need ¬– they, too, can be fair-skinned, tender-footed, or have sensitive eyes. Parents talk all day about finding the basics of baby’s wardrobe, but they sure don’t tell you how much it’s going to cost to outfit your baby for your lifestyle.

Entertainment
Lessons, camps, sports, and activities are increasingly expensive. Did you know that friends are, too? As the world becomes more dangerous, kids spend time with friends on planned (pricey) outings, not during (literally) free time in the neighborhood cul-de-sac. Even birthdays have become a source of expenditure. It is easy to spend hundreds, if not thousands each year. Keep costs low by gathering at free locations with built-in entertainment, such as parks or beaches, that don’t get expensive for large groups. Send email invitations, and offer a few snacks and a cake instead of a full lunch or dinner.

Replacements
Wondering where that $50 disappears to each month? Why, it goes toward your "breakables" – you know, the cost of the things your child destroys during any given day, like the hand lotion they dump out, the glass they drop, the blouse they cover in marker, the rolls of paper towels that they shred, the nice makeup brush they dump in the pet water, the book they leaf through with sticky banana-covered hands. Because children do not become more graceful as they age, this is not a tab that will close any time soon. We don’t know how much it’s going to cost you, but guaranteed – you’re going to pay.

The solution
The good news: There are limitless ways to cut expenses. The tricky bit: finding what works best for your family. From raising diaper-free infants to picking up work on the side, parents are making it work.

What may surprise you most is how much you enjoy spending money on your child. Being a parent means you will trade $5 any day for the grin on that face when presented with a new book, toy, treat, or experience. Remember to buy gifts in bulk during peak sale times, reward with your time and attention instead of material goods, model savvy financial management for older kids, and you’ll do just fine.

Photo by Kabilan Subramanian via cc.
 

Remember the Beatle's hit "All You Need is Love?" A good song, but it's not true. When two people love each other and want to get married, they also need a mutual understanding about personal finances. After all, finances are the leading cause of divorce, according to Examiner.com. Communication before commitment helps prevent a trip to divorce court.

Whose money is it, anyway?
Is money mine and yours or ours? How each of you view ownership might make or break your marriage. Whether you live in a community property state also makes a difference.

The legal definition of "community property" is, in plain English: "All earnings during marriage... are owned in common and all debts incurred during marriage are the responsibility of both spouses," according to Nolo.com.

If you live in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin, assets and debts acquired during marriage are legally shared.

It's not uncommon for one spouse to earn more than the other. This may breed resentment or jealousy. Are you and your partner willing to put all earnings into a joint account and discuss expenditures before making a purchase? If not, how much does each spouse get to hold out for individual use?

Spending habits cause conflict
When both partners like to spend, neither one sees a problem until they are sinking in debt. Marriage problems that lead to divorce surface when neither spouse is willing to curb his or her own spending. When people get a sense of identity from their purchases, overspending is a difficult habit to break.

The opposite of overspending is underspending and hoarding, filling a basement with things he "might need someday." Underspenders are seldom concerned with luxury. If you like new furniture, you will have a conflict with a partner who prefers to make do with old things.

Discuss spending habits with your future spouse. Most people's spending behavior falls on a continuum between overspending and hoarding. Take an honest look at how your spending habits are similar and different. Working toward common goals, such as a vacation or saving for your child's college tuition, may help keep you both on track.

When children enter the mix
You already discussed having children, and you both are looking forward to having a family – but you have a lot more to talk about. There are fundamental questions that too many couples do not discuss before getting pregnant.

Affording the baby goes beyond saving up for a nursery and some time off from work. Who will take care of the baby when family leave is used up? If one parent stays home, there is less income. After you factor in the cost of daycare, you may be just as well off financially staying home.

Discuss the importance of education. Some couples move to an area with a reputation for good public schools. Others prefer paying for private schools. College is another expense with which some parents want to help their children. That means more saving or planning and sacrifice while those children are growing up. Do you and your betrothed feel the same way about these issues?

The key in discussing money issues with your partner is to have a mutual understanding about your attitudes toward money, your common goals, and how you both plan to reach them. Open and honest communication now may save you expensive heartbreak later.

Photo by Dmitry Ryzhkov via cc
 

Times change. And then again, they don't. Not really, because after all is said in done in American romance and its evolving iterations, breaking up is still hard to do.

Back in the day, or so I'm told by those in "The Greatest Generation" you got married young and stayed together for life, no matter how much you wanted to kill each other. But divorces soon increased anyway. As my parents and other boomers of the '50s and '60s grew older, "Children of Divorce" (like me and virtually everyone I knew) became "a thing." Anyone who experienced joint custody, unpaid child support, step parents, and then ex-step parents understood the difficulties of breaking up.

You'd think that as the social stigma of unwed mothers, single parents, and living together all faded, the breaking up part would get easier. Though a divorce attorney is no longer required, parting ways is still – surprisingly perhaps – much tougher to do than one might expect.

A Rent.com survey of 1,000 unmarried couples living together found that 62% stayed for more than a month or longer even after the "it's not you, it's me" speech. More than half said finding new housing was the hardest part. A third said they stayed around simply because finding and paying for a new place was tough. Thankfully, plenty of advice exists for extracting yourself and your stuff as peacefully – and quickly – as possible.

The pre-shack
Have that awkward pre-nuptial financial agreement talks before even moving in together. Lay out some basics of who owns what, how expenses are shared, and who gets the place if the social love experiment fails. As for those already shacking up, it's not too late. Designate a day to "clarify." Just don't plan it for Valentine's Day.

Rainy day fund
If there is one thing to keep separate, it's a savings account. Moving is never cheap. Deposits, new purchases, rental vans, pizza, and beverages for the reluctant movers you call friends – you name it, it all costs. Insist savings be kept separate from the start. If you are already living with someone, it's a good thing to discuss your savings goals now. The very idea of living together denotes a more experimental phase than marriage (despite half of those suckers circling the drain, the illusion of permanence still exists), so a clear talk about security is a sign of maturity and health – not doubt of your true love.

Storage
According to the Rent.com survey, more than half said splitting the stuff was actually more difficult than splitting the cash (likely because there is far more of the former and less of the latter). From the start, it's a good idea to store rather than purge when two people merge. If that box of old books and those treasured mementos and the recliner she said was too ugly all find a nice private place to stay, moving out day will at least be quicker, if not less painful.

Be your best self
With so many raw nerves exposed, a break up will go better if conducted civilly until the hard work of relocating, dividing, and reclaiming your single life is done. Kindness, compromise, and healthy boundaries are critical at times like these, which requires you to channel your inner Gandhi when you may well feel like Gordon Ramsey

In the end the best advice is often the simplest. Think of the old Band Aid and rip. I'm not sure a "clean" break-up exists, but the more it resembles a scalpel rather than a butter knife, the sooner you'll find the road to recovery on your own again.

Photo by Paw Paw via cc.

Whether you live together or like to frequently eat together at home, your partner’s eating habits will have an impact on your weekly grocery bill. From following specialty and health-related diets to having preferences for healthy or ready-made foods, eating habits abound, and with grocery bills consistently on the rise these days, they can become a financial burden if you’re not careful. Here are some eating habits you may face and how you can save money with the foods you serve your partner. After all, you're buying for two. Sometimes that saves save. Sometimes it makes things more complicated.

Organic, grass-fed, and all-natural foods
Eating organic, grass-fed, and all-natural foods is becoming more common, and unfortunately, these types of food are often more expensive, particularly when it comes to specialty items. Research what foods do and do not need to be bought organic, such as the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15, cut coupons, and shop smart. My family is on an organic and grass-fed diet, and we find deals for grass-fed buffalo online and shop for organic produce that’s on sale.

Specialty diets
All specialty diets call for certain foods to avoid and others to include regularly. Veganism, raw foods, Paleo, low-carb – the list goes on. Take the time to get to know your partner’s chosen diet, and find the right ingredients and alternatives to keep him or her on track. At my house, we are on an 80-20 Paleo diet, so we buy a ton of vegetables (on sale) and try to eat several servings a day, such as a salad for lunch and one or two vegetables with every breakfast and dinner.

Gluten-free
If your partner is gluten-intolerant, has celiac disease ,or is going gluten-free for other reasons, adjusting your diet can get costly if you don’t have a plan. More gluten-free foods are making it to the shelves, but they often come at a price. Instead of paying a boatload for specialty GF processed foods, like cookies, pastas, and cereals, figure out what foods are naturally gluten-free. Use raw foods to make meals from scratch to control what ingredients go into your dishes and snacks without having to spend more on gluten-free labeled products.

Ready-made foods
Some people simply don't like or do not have time to cook. They tend to favor going out to eat, ordering take-out, or having quick, ready-to-make meals at their disposal. In terms of price, these types of foods can go either way. Sometimes they are less expensive, but if they are health-conscious, they can get pricey very quickly. Cook in large batches for extra of leftovers your partner can quickly reheat for an easy lunch or dinner.

Eating habits can add up on your grocery bill, but you have options for getting around it if you know what foods to look for. Have a talk with your partner about his or her eating preferences, and do your research to keep your grocery bills manageable.

Photo by Kevin K via cc

Considering how deeply we, as a nation, are in financial distress (the American federal, state and local debt rests at $17,651,845,933,132.44, as of August 8, 2014), you would think we, as individuals, would respond better to the singular experience. Despite literature abound on the subject of controlling wayward finances, many Americans still struggle with the emotional and physical ramifications of being in the red. From headaches to substance abuse to suicide, citizens suffering from long-term financial instability can look forward to a steady incline of stress manifestations in mind and body. The bitterly ironic aspect of your body's response to money problems is that, in the long run, they will cost you more cash and more stress; it's a sick cycle of being sick about money.

You're not alone in experiencing wallet-related discomfort or illnesses. Only 28% of Americans claim they are financially fit, according to the Financial Well-Being Index report by The Principle. In a survey on financial stress, New York Life reported 73% of respondents experienced financial stress on a daily basis. Of that, 25% reported feeling extremely stressed. Only half of the survey-takers considered their economic situation to be 'good.' More money would seem like an easy fix to those problems, right? According to the survey, that's not the case: More than a quarter of respondents who earned more than $100,000 a year reported feeling highly stressed. Back that up with the Federal Reserve's 2013 survey claiming that 25% of families were "just getting by," and 13% said they were struggling to do so. Misery loves company, after all.

Escaping a financial crisis unscathed is made all the harder by your gender. According to the New York Life survey, women feel financial stress more acutely than men and are more likely to bring that stress with them into the workplace. A study by the American Sociological Association found a woman's most common response to financial stress is extreme anxiety. Men, however, are prone to alcohol abuse during financial crises.

Irritability, inexplicable anger, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, sleeplessness, depression, eating disorders, headaches, muscle tension, altered sex drive, social withdrawal, ulcers, and digestive-tract problems are representative of chronic stress, medical research suggests. Establishing stress as a persistent condition can cause major physical harm to vital bodily systems like blood pressure, heart rate, memory, mood, and immune functioning.

Symptoms aside, what causes economic fret? Are you in the clear if you're simply debt free? According to Robert L. Weisman (Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester and Doctor of Osteopathy at Rochester Medical Center), a sense of powerlessness, nervous tension, and other mental and emotional distress can all be caused by the mere threat of a perpetual negative balance or inadequate earnings. A poll by the American Psychological Association (APA) titled Stress in America cited major stress influences in American lives as the following: 66% caused by money, 67% caused by the economy, 53% caused by personal health concerns, 49% from job stability, and 49% from housing costs. The 2014 Gallup Economy and Personal Finance poll found that of their respondents, 36% are moderately/very worried about not having enough money to pay their normal monthly bills, and 31% are moderately/very worried about not being able to pay their rent, mortgage, or other housing costs.

In a New York Life's Financial Stress Survey, 47% of respondents from New York Life's Financial Stress Survey listed "concerns with facing potentially unaffordable medical expenses" as a cause of intense pressure. Stressing about unexpected medical expenses is a bitter actuality when your medical expenses are almost guaranteed to rise with the costly act that stress has become. In fact, "75% of health-care costs are associated with chronic illnesses. What's a key driver of chronic illnesses? Stress," said APA CEO Norman B. Anderson.

Is there any silver lining in all this negative hype and, dare I say it, stress-inducing bad news? In short, yes. Treatment for pecuniary anxiety is available and affordable, as well as tools for managing your cash-flow and monetary future. There's an abundant amount of resources for tackling money stress from qualified financial advising sites like Forbes, Market Watch, Finances Online, and Kiplinger. Don't forget, your financial institution will almost always have a competent consultant available to work with you in person or online to help wrangle your rebellious assets, plan for your retirement, and take control of your capital.

You're not alone, you don't need to be sick with stress, and there are ways to cope. Don't let your money problems cost you more money in the long run.

Photo by bottled_void via cc

Money can have a huge impact on relationships, so much so that it can contribute to marital discord and even divorce. If you're married or in a long-term relationship, it's important for you and your partner to either be on the same page financially or discuss your differences openly and learn to compromise. When mapping out your joint financial future, cover the essentials.

Spending habits and attitude toward money
Are you cautious about spending, or do you believe in enjoying the things money can buy and dealing with the consequences later? Understanding your partner's attitude toward money is a key component of financial planning. It’s okay if you’re not on the same page, but you’ll need to learn to compromise and reconcile each other’s habits with your financial goals.

Financial goals
Do you want to purchase a home in the next few years? Start a family? Retire early? Discuss your short-, medium-, and long-term financial goals early, and reach an agreement about where your money needs to be going. Setting mutual goals or agreeing to support each other's goals, can help you and your partner avoid conflict and resentment down the line.

Let’s say your five-year plan centers on buying a house, whereas your partner isn’t particularly motivated to own property. If you don’t discuss your goal up-front, you may end up feeling bitter toward your partner if you’re not in a position to buy five years down the line when he pushed you to travel and purchase cars and electronics instead of save for that down payment. But if you make your goals clear and create a specific savings strategy, you’ll be more likely to achieve them and less likely to harbor negative feelings about your partner’s lack of support.

Appetite for risk
Once you've established your financial goals, you'll need to figure out how to get there. Before you start building your portfolio, openly discuss your feelings about risk-taking. If you're both conservative, you may lean toward safer but low-yield investments like bonds or certificates of deposit. On the other hand, if you're both open to being aggressive and aren't afraid to lose some money in the short-term, you could opt for stocks or even real estate. Now if one of you is a financial risk-taker and the other isn't, you'll need to negotiate a strategy that works for both of you. This could include a mix of mutual funds, individual stocks, low-yield bonds, and money markets. Diversifying offers a degree of financial protection and peace of mind; and if you and your partner have differing tolerances for risk, it’s a good compromise toward meeting your goals.

By asking the right questions and approaching the discussion with open minds, you and your partner can set yourselves up for a solid financial future without letting money take a toll on your relationship.

Photo by Alexandre Dulaunoy via cc