This post goes out to all those crazy kids who have been married for decades.
Think about your spouse. Think about the ups and downs you’ve experienced as a couple. Think of what’s remained constant for the two of you over time. But also think of what’s changed.
You’re really not the same couple you were when you met. How you function together has likely shifted over time. And your traditions, beliefs, and ambitions have probably evolved as your marriage has matured. Considering any changes you’ve experienced, it’s helpful to think about how they could affect your short- or long-term financial goals.
A little financial pillow talk
To help determine how your approach to finances and investments may need to be altered, start with an open and honest discussion in a relaxed atmosphere (now’s the time to open that bottle you’ve been saving). Here are a few questions to guide you:
- How have your priorities changed? Depending on where you are in life, the most important things now are probably different than they were on your wedding day. Talk about what you currently want to focus on and determine if your everyday approach to finances aligns with those priorities.
- How have your circumstances changed? Maybe one or both of your careers hit a speed bump—or landed on a rocket launchpad. You may be caring for a child or parent with a severe medical condition. Or there could be a range of c’est la vie surprises that may influence your spending or investing.
- How have your dreams changed? In your early twenties, buying a little beach shack and spending your days surfing may have seemed like the ultimate way to retire. Thirty years, two ACL surgeries, and one harrowing Mexican adventure later, it may not be the dream you want to invest in. Make sure your long-term financial goals reflect the current vision you have for your future together.
Even goals need date nights
Once you have this conversation, check in on your goals regularly. Generally speaking, it can be helpful to re-evaluate them annually. This can become a milestone you commemorate together. (To help you remember, you might even set the discussion for the day after your anniversary.) The benefits of continuing to discuss your goals include:
- Added motivation. Talking about goals makes them seem more real, and the more real they seem, the more willing you’ll be to achieve them by setting money aside.
- Greater chance of success. You’re more likely to reach your goals when you discuss them on a regular basis, whether that’s monthly or quarterly.
- Easier course correction. Regularly monitoring and talking about your goals can give you an earlier indication that they’re off track or need to change.
- A better connection. Continuing to talk about your goals—and reaching agreements about them—can be another way of strengthening your marriage.
By evaluating your situation and expectations, you can start creating goals that better reflect who you are as a couple—today and into tomorrow.