Setting financial goals with your partner

Finances are top reason for couples’ angst, tips on how to work through it

By Nancy Plummer, Columnist, The Times

NancyPlummerLogoThe New Year brings many new resolutions; financial goals perhaps being the most important. How best to bring your partner into the throws of budgeting, saving, and investing decisions that align with yours? Research has shown that the number one issue facing couples today is finances. It’s what starts arguments, and ends marriages. Luckily, there are some simple tips to follow to help make talking about finances with your loved one a little easier.

As Suze Orman once said, “No one’s ever achieved financial fitness with a January resolution that’s abandoned by February.”

Tip #1: Start with the promise from both of you to have an open, non-judgement, no-blame atmosphere. Most couples are uncomfortable talking about finances because of the harsh judgment they fear from their partner. Both of you should realize that it’s going to take teamwork to improve your financial affairs. Bringing shame and guilt into things is just going hinder any room for growth, cooperation, and success. The New Year is a perfect time to start over and start achieving your goals together.

Tip #2: You should each write separate lists of financial goals, ranging from day to day, to retirement and legacy goals. Consider writing questions for both of you to fill out individually first.

Tip #3: Pick a peaceful, private place, free of distractions, to meet together to discuss your goals. If you have kids or pets, perhaps going out to a quiet restaurant for lunch or dinner will help to keep you both on point.

Tip #4: Make sure you give ample time to talk through your ideas and concerns, in order to arrive at synergistic goals and steps to achieve each goal. Moreover, it may be more productive to schedule one hour meetings each week throughout the year to ensure continued monitoring and commitment to meet your goals.

Tip #5: Start with small steps, changes, and goals rather than biting off more than you can chew. For example, if you are having trouble putting money aside for an emergency fund, instead of trying to set aside $250 per month, try to put away $10 per day. At the end of the month, you will have actually saved more money. Research has shown that people are more successful with financial goals when they monitor their monetary behaviors on a daily basis, rather than each month.

Tip #6: Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Fortunately, there are many apps and that can help you keep on budget and monitor your expenses on the go. Some of my favorites include but are not limited to, Spending Tracker, Sweep, and Life Budget. For websites, check out,, and

Tip #7: Be kind to yourself and your partner. Financial matters are stressful for everyone, even when things are going well. The last thing you need is more guilt, shame, and remorse. So, instead of fretting about what financial goals you aren’t succeeding at, honor your dedication and diligence and find reasons to celebrate and complement each other. In addition, give yourself rewards for little successes each month. For instance, if you kept in your budget for the first two weeks, give yourselves a little treat such as going out for a movie or dinner. It’ll be much easier to keep up the prudent management of money if you get to enjoy yourselves along the way.

Tip #8: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you feel you and your partner can’t succeed in your financial goals on your own, or you keep finding yourselves disagreeing and getting frustrated with each other, start asking for referrals for professional help. You don’t have to be wealthy to work with a financial advisor. Although many financial advisors do have a minimum money requirement, there are enough that don’t. Make sure you both go together to meet and interview a few advisors before choosing one. Moreover, remember to be honest about your money issues so you can get the help you need.

Tip #9: Take the initiative to learn about investment strategies, the stock market, and money matters as a whole. Thanks to TV, internet, magazines, and newspapers, there’s plenty to learn about becoming financially successful. In addition, consider attending some adult school night courses and lectures.

Tip #10: Don’t let another day go by fretting about your finances. Start today!


Nancy Plummer is the President and Founder of All About Connecting – a Personal Dating, Matchmaker and Relationship Coaching service.

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