Congratulations to you both on this beautiful day! In order to stand here surrounded by your family and friends, you’re proclaiming to the world that you want this one person by your side through the good times and the bad. Maybe you’ve faced some tough times together already, and have learned and grown as a couple. Maybe you’ve learned that through communication and mutual respect you can conquer anything together. I wish for you to experience the happiness you feel today everyday for the rest of your lives, however, life being as it is, you most likely will have to face some challenges. Here is my advice to you as your friend and as a Financial Planner…
- Communicate, communicate, communicate…. if you aren’t calm enough to express yourself, walk away, cool down, come back and communicate! That means, you express how you are feeling without accusation, and then you listen to how your partner is feeling. If you haven’t done so already, talk about your plans for the future, your home, your religion, your retirement, your children, your money. Communicating your hopes and dreams now can save a lot of disappointment later.
- When you’re done communicating, write it down. Write down your goals. Write down how you will acheive them. Write down how you will manage your accounts. Write down who will manage these accounts. Write down how much you will save. How much you have saved. Write down when you will be debt free. Write down how you will become debt free. Write down when you want to move to a new house. Write down how long you will own your cars. Write down how often and where you want to take family vacations. When you are finished putting all this on paper, you will have a plan.
- Put your plan into action. Go open your joint and individual accounts. Set up your 401k deferrals according to your plans. Set up your automatic withdrawals to your other investment/savings accounts. Set up automatic payments to eliminate your debts. Go through your other expenses and see where you can save. Maintain your plan, atleast monthly review and make sure you are still on track to meet your goals.
- Hire a planner to analyze your plan. You’ve done 1–3 and done it well, but the one thing you two can’t do for yourselves is look at your plan objectively. Hire a planner to do that for you. Hire a planner if step 3 overwhelms you. Hire a planner if you’re too busy to maintain your plan. The expense will pay for itself many times over.
- If none of this is working, start back at 1 and repeat. You are friends now, and you will remain friends as long as you continue to communicate, listen, and show respect.
Life isn’t all about how much money you have and how many things you own, but having similar ideas and goals about how you want your life to relate to money and possessions is important. The number one reason marriages fail is because of money issues. I’ll take it a step further, and say the number one reason marriages fail is because of not having a financial plan. In order to create a financial plan as partners a lot of discussions have to take place. These discussions surround some of the most important decisions couples face: children, charity, family, real estate, travel, savings, retirement, etc. Having these discussions before you are faced with the decision is key to having a happy life. Marriages take work, but it doesn’t have to be hard work. Stick together, work together, love each other, respect each other.
Best wishes to the bride and groom!