OnPoint Community Credit Union Area Manager Amy Reeves offers some business advice for couples on Valentine’s Day
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Whether you and your significant other just got serious or have been together forever, it’s important to be on the same page financially. Having open conversations, establishing shared goals, and planning together may not sound very romantic at first, but it is actually one of the best things you can do as a couple to build a strong and lasting foundation.
As OnPoint Community Credit Union’s Southwest Washington area manager, I meet couples every day who are working together on their finances. With Valentine’s Day approaching, I have compiled some of my favorite financial strategies that I not only share with our members, but have also used personally in my 14-year marriage:
• 1. Define goals. The first thing you should do is sit down with your partner and determine your goals. Do you want to own a home someday? Travel the world? Own a luxury car? Understanding your shared and individual goals, as well as the way you plan to save and spend money, will allow you to build your financial future together.
• 2. Establish an open line of communication. While you discuss what you want your financial future to look like together, it’s equally important to discuss your financial past, including any outstanding debts, ongoing expenses or credit issues. Raising these issues upfront will decrease the chances of any surprises and help you transparently build your financial future together.
• 3. Determine your system. Once you know where you’ve been and where you both want to go, you need to determine how you will jointly save and spend money. Will you share all your money in a joint checking and savings account? Will you keep it totally separate and split everything 50/50? Are you living on one income? Each system has its pros and cons so you need to decide together what will work best for you. Click here to read more about various options available to you.
• 4. Create a shared budget. Creating a budget together will allow you to actively manage your money and start achieving your financial goals. Every couple’s budget is different as everyone has different goals. For example, my husband and I know we want to travel with our three children so we cut back in certain areas and put extra money in a travel fund.
Start by calculating your total take-home income, then identify and categorize all monthly expenses, subtract those from your income and direct any leftover funds toward your goals. The most important step to creating a budget is maintaining and sticking to it. Each time you pull out your wallet, we recommend asking yourself two questions: 1) Am I on track for my financial goals? 2) Will this add value to my life? If the answer to either is no, consider not making the purchase.
• 5. Make it fun. My husband and I have learned a lot from each other throughout the 17 years we’ve been together. The most important lesson we’ve learned is to make managing family finances fun. For example, we make a date night out of our weekly food prep. We go grocery shopping every Saturday night to three or four stores to find the best prices. When we’re done, we put the food in a cooler and then go out to dinner. We look forward to this time together each week, and it allows us to stay on the same page with our grocery finances (and everything else).
This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to begin or continue the conversation with your partner about finances. There’s no better feeling than working together toward shared goals and celebrating your success. If you and your partner have questions, or are interested in getting started on a financial plan together or refining your existing plan, I encourage you to come into any of OnPoint’s five branches conveniently located throughout Southwest Washington.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
SW Washington Area Manager
OnPoint Community Credit Union