How Couples Can Save in Today’s Economy Don’t let money issues burden your marriage. Use these 4 simple tips to stay ahead and make your financial house a strong one. BY KIMBERLY FOSS
Saving for retirement or a rainy day requires a little planning and communication.
“ Knowing where you spend your money will help you identify areas of waste, but a budget must be realistic—creating an unattainable plan will only lead to failure.”
The economic environment we have endured over recent years has left many people in a financial mess—these financial hardships can put a strain on a couple’s relationship when either or both of the partners are feeling the stress. As they say, money isn’t everything, but it is a necessity in life and an aspect that every couple has to deal with regularly.
While mounting financial pressures can seem overwhelming, by working together, couples can effectively manage their money no matter the economic situation they are in. Below are a few guidelines to follow, which are important to implement even when the economy, stock market and your savings and investment portfolios are thriving.
1. Be prepared for emergencies. The average American family’s savings account balance is approximately $3,800, according to Statistic Brain. Most people know that they should be saving for retirement, but what about a car accident? Losing your job? Or an illness? On average, I recommend six to 18 months of liquid savings as a "rainy day fund." Having money set aside for these types of emergencies will keep your retirement savings safe while you recover from being sick or looking for a new job.
2. Develop a realistic budget. This is important, even for wealthy couples. Knowing where you spend your money will help you identify areas of waste, but a budget must be realistic—creating an unattainable plan will only lead to failure. Try mint.com, free personal finance software; I call it the budget application for people who hate to budget. It can help you track expenses and set a financial plan based on your spending history, and includes savings and an emergency fund. It is vital for both partners in the relationship to develop and stick to a budget.
3. Never stop saving. While it is harder to save in a slower economy, couples must continue adding to this account. It is a good idea to aim for 10 percent of your after-tax income (so for every $1,000 dollars you put in the bank, place $100 of that deposit in your savings account) and be sure to set that money aside as soon as you are paid so it is not spent unintentionally.
4. Give your portfolio a checkup—yearly. Markets change and your needs alter as you get older. Regularly review your investments with a professional who can help you decide on appropriate risk levels for your age group and needs.
In good and bad times, the above strategies can help you stay on track as a couple. Also, by implementing each, you have a better chance of staying afloat come an economic downturn. Financial problems can be a leading cause for separation and divorce, so it is paramount for couples to take control of money management and work together to keep their fiscal house in order.
Kimberly Foss is a Certified Financial Planner and personal finance expert with 29 years industry experience. Kimberly founded Empyrion Wealth Management (Roseville, Calif.) 23 years ago to offer her clients unbiased advice, always putting their interests first.