Money

A Must-Have Financial Priorities Checklist for Married Couples

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iStock_000053133474_MediumFrom deciding when to co-mingle funds to setting your financial boundaries, your financial life will change significantly upon tying the knot.

The goal is to handle your finances as a couple and not leave all the responsibility on one person’s plate. After the honeymoon’s over it’s time to set up your first married money meeting and establish your financial priorities. Even if you have been married for quite some time and you’ve never had this conversation with your spouse, it’s never too late to schedule it.

Here is a list of the top items you want to tackle in those meetings, whether you’ve been married 6 months or 10 years.

[Related: Don’t Delay Your Retirement Savings Another Minute]

The exciting part about being a couple is that now you have the option to tackle financial goals with funds from 2 incomes instead of one— which will help eliminate debts and build nest eggs faster! Start with a financial priorities kick off meeting, to set the tone, expectations, and goals for the year.

This can be held any month you choose. It’s the meeting where you plan, which will impact your monthly money meetings for the rest of the year.

Keep the full list handy during your monthly meetings as well, so you can revisit it further down the road for updates or adjustments.

Financial Priorities Kick-Off Meeting Checklist

  •    Discuss all your goals and dreams for the next 5 years.
  •    Pick which goals to tackle over the next 6 to 12 months.
  •   Check your credit reports and score.
  •   Create your annual and monthly budgets.
  •   Review your insurance coverage (Auto, health, life).
  •   Make a list of all your debts to be paid.
  •   Create an actionable plan to tackle debts and savings goals.

In your actionable plan, you will want to assign roles based on you and your strengths, who will be responsible for opening the bills and who will set the monthly meeting reminder?

Set the meetings as an appointment on both of your calendars. If one of you is a spender and the other is a saver, remember to leave wiggle room in your budget that meets in the middle. Don’t expect the spender to suddenly stop spending. Allot a line item in your budget for spending that still allows your goals to be met, without letting the spender feel deprived.

One of the best parts of having your collective goals written down along with your action plan is that it will assist both of you in holding each other accountable to what was agreed upon. After the kick-off reconvene at least once a month to pay bills, assess spending, and check in on goals.

Monthly Financial Check In Meeting

  •  Review or adjust your monthly budget.
  •  Allocate funds to savings or debt payoff goals.
  •  Pay other household bills.
  •  Allot petty cash for spending.
  •  Celebrate another month of being on the right financial track!

Accountability is the cornerstone that is usually missing from couples financial houses, which is why they fold. If no one is willing to take responsibility for what was agreed to or how much was agreed to be spent, financial goals cannot be met.