future

How to Discuss Finances Before Tying the Knot

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We all know that finances play a huge part in a marriage. If you’re dating someone long-term or currently engaged, have you had this conversation yet?

According to a survey done by American Express, only 43% of the general population talk about money before marriage. 12% have never talked about money with their spouse - how is that possible!?

Being able to openly communicate with your partner about anything, especially finances, is a great quality to have in a relationship and can either make it or break it. Here’s how you can have this conversation without fear of upsetting your partner:

Wait until you have been with this person for a long time, or you see a future with them.

Money is a scary topic for a lot of people - it can cause judgement of character, or create feelings of inadequacy. Don’t bring up the topic if you don’t think it’s necessary - rather, wait until you’ve developed a deeper relationship with your partner, and when you feel comfortable enough that you can talk to them about anything.

Instead of springing it on them, let them know ahead of time that you’ve been thinking about it and would like to talk about it. This gives you both time to prepare.

Know what you’re willing to bend on and what you absolutely can’t negotiate.

Before having this conversation with someone else, know where you stand. Take time to reflect or write down your own money rules, and figure out which ones you are willing to compromise on and which ones you can’t break. You’ll feel much more prepared going into the conversation and discussing your partner’s thoughts when you don’t have to worry about organizing your own.

Keep it general and lighthearted at first, and read the conversation.

Does your partner look relaxed, or are they crossing their arms and leaning away from you? Are you able to laugh or make jokes, but still keep the conversation on track? Go in easy, and then delve deeper when able to. Also, be sure to avoid accusatory statements - this isn’t a blame game.

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Be honest.

Chances are, you’ve got some financial skeletons in your closet, and so does your partner. Make sure not to hide anything that could come up and ruin both of your finances in the future. Talk about any debts you may have, your credit score, and any other money issues that could come up in the future - the sooner you bring these out into the open, the sooner you two can come up with an action plan so that they aren’t hindrances in building your lives together.

If you disagree about something, try to find a compromise.

This is a great reason why preparing ahead of time is key. There’s a good chance that you and your partner will not agree on everything. Are you two able to compromise, or are you being strong-willed about a rule? Are they not willing to loosen the reins a little? This part can be tough because it could mean the end of your relationship - but again, it’s much better to get these grievances out in the open now, than to be in too deep later.

If the conversation goes south, be willing to let each other cool off and come back to it later. Not everything has to be discussed in one sitting, and sometimes, it’s better that way - money talk can be overwhelming. As long as the important details are discussed, and you two can come to an agreement, your relationship will thrive and come out that much stronger.

Need help preparing your financial rules? Book a free consultation with us - we can help you figure out exactly where you stand financially!

How Tracking My Budget Has Changed My Life

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By Amy Lancaster. Originally published in the October 2018 Issue of the Milborn Newsletter.

Like most people my age (I'm assuming), most of my 20's have been less about financial freedom, and more about stressing about where my next dollar was coming and going. My adult life so far has been filled with nights of staying home, dodging plans, and not getting any sleep, rather than going out, partying, and traveling. Even more so, there were no saving habits to be found. Being almost 30, I knew things had to change.

Budgeting was something I knew I had to do - and wanted to do - but it wasn't until I started working at a financial firm and seeing the ins and outs of money and investing that I became truly interested in fixing my financial situation. From only two months of keeping track of my spending, I've managed to not only finally open a savings account, but I've tucked away over $700 that I just assumed I didn't have lying around otherwise. Here are a few more things I've discovered since tracking my budget:

1. I spend way too much on eating out. Lattes, sushi specials at the market, an alcoholic beverage or two - it adds up, and quickly. I'd always defend my eating out habit with "Well, I can spend $100 a week on groceries, or I can spend $5 a meal three times a day for seven days, which comes out to be the same amount." Oh Amy, you are so naiive. I'm still struggling with this, but being able to see how much I do spend on eating out (and so far, it's been 2 for 2 on being more than groceries a month) helps me curb this habit and see that I could be putting that amount towards something way more necessary (say, a new computer. I'm tired of living this USB keyboard life since my laptop's keyboard broke).

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2. I discovered automated payments I didn't even know I had. The very first day I started tracking my spending, I noticed a $40 monthly payment for a resume website I used once. Immediately I canceled it, and thanked myself for tracking my spending, otherwise who knows how long I would have paid $40/month for something I didn't even need or use. 

3. My financial goals are more tangible. I haven't had a car since February of 2017. While I've been able to mostly get around and have had wonderful people in my life be so gracious to give me rides or loan me their car, I do miss the freedom of having my own vehicle. Now that I am tracking my budget, I can stop thinking "One day when I graduate and have a high-paying job I can finally get a car", and start putting away x amount every month and physically seeing my money grow towards that goal. That trip to Japan that I've been wanting to take for years? It doesn't seem so far fetched of an idea anymore.

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4. It makes me excited for the future. One of my biggest fears for a while now has been being a financial burden on whoever my long-term partner ends up being. It's hard to admit, but in order to fix yourself, you need to admit what your problems are, and be candid with yourself. Now that I'm with that person, the last thing I want to do is put myself in that situation. I don't need to earn more than him (let's be real, I probably won't, He's a scientist, and I will brag about that at every opportunity), but rather have us spend our money on something for both of us - a spa day, a dream trip, our future home - than have him spend money on bailing me out of a bill or loan or a debt situation. By fixing my financial situation now, I can guarantee the future will be better for us - and it makes me look forward to it in a way I never have before. 

5. I can sleep at night. If that isn't financial freedom (or at least freedom from stress), I don't know what is.