We share lots of tips on how to navigate your finances as a couple. This time, we went straight to the source: a couple who has successfully managed their finances together for 40 years!
I’m getting married in less than three weeks. As we gear up for the wedding, and more importantly a life together, I asked my mom and dad, who just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, to offer my fiancé and I financial advice. Here’s what they shared with us.
- The #1 piece of advise for anyone is “spend less than you earn” then save and invest the difference.
- The quality of your life will not be improved in direct proportion to quantity of things you possess.
- Don’t sacrifice large periods of time with each other in order to reach a certain standard of living.
- Use credit cards for convenience only, pay off the balance in full every month.
- If you do have multiple credit card balances, pay off the smallest first, roll that payment into the next smallest, and keep doing that until they’re all paid off.
- Have at least two months of expenses in a savings account that’s easily accessible for emergencies.
- Understand the value of time, start saving for retirement as soon as possible. Young people’s (20s & 30s) retirement money should be mostly invested in the stock market, preferably in mutual funds. Target date funds are also excellent options.
- Always take full advantage of your employer’s matching 401k program. It’s the best return on investment you’ll get.
- If the investment seems to good to be true, it is.
- Combine your incomes into one checking account and pay all bills out of that account. Whichever of the two is better with managing money should manage the account making sure bills are paid on time. It’s critical that the one who is managing communicates with the other so both are aware of the couple’s financial status. Each should have an agreed upon “pishke” (Yiddish for little stash) for personal items.
- Use a budget tool like Mint or Microsoft Money. A budget helps us control our money so it doesn’t control us. It also helps us make decisions based on facts rather than feelings.
- Don’t make impulse purchase decisions over a certain amount that you decide upon as a couple. Anything above that limit should be discussed and agreed upon together.
- Everything is negotiable. If you don’t ask for a discount you won’t know if it’s available.
- Distinguish between needs and wants, and always prioritize that which is needed.
- Be content and be moderate. People often buy things with money they don’t have to impress people they really don’t even like.
- Be generous with your family, friends, and even strangers. “It’s more blessed to give then to receive.”
- Don’t co-sign on another’s debt unless you’re prepared to pay the full amount owed.