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My Husband and I Have These Money Conversations Every Year. Should You Do the Same?

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Managing your personal finances is an ongoing project, and you’ll most likely be working on building your net worth throughout your lifetime. If you are married or in a committed relationship, this is probably something you’ll be doing with your spouse or partner. Your shared life means your money management skills will affect each other.

Since my husband and I want to end up with a good amount of money in our bank and brokerage accounts over time, we have a few key money conversations each year to make sure we’re on track toward the financial success we’re hoping to achieve. Here’s what those conversations are — along with why it can be helpful for you to do the same.

Are we still excited about the goals we’re working toward?

The first big thing we look at is whether the long-term and short-term financial goals we’ve set for ourselves are still appropriate.

In many cases, accomplishing big goals requires sacrifice. We can’t necessarily just spend whatever we want if we need to make sure we’re saving enough. And this can sometimes lead to resentment, conflict, or even outright dishonesty. In fact, a survey conducted by The Motley Fool Ascent found that 82% of couples have argued over a purchase, and 71% have committed some form of financial infidelity, such as hiding an item’s purchase price or lying about a purchase altogether.

Having an annual conversation about whether we’re both excited about the goals we are working toward can help us reframe all this sacrifice into something worthwhile. If we are both really passionate about what we’re trying to achieve, then we can both be committed to doing what’s necessary to make it happen.

If you’re in a relationship, you should have this talk, too. It helps you recast the sacrifices into something exciting to look forward to. And it also ensures you’re both OK with the things you’re giving up to get something better in the future.

Do we need to set any new long- or short-term goals?

The next big thing we discuss each year is whether we need to set some new objectives. We don’t use our credit cards or finance most purchases using loans. Instead, if we want to go on vacation or buy a new car, we pay cash to do so.

Because of this, we need to check in with each other and see if there’s anything we need to add to our list of things we’re working towards. If one of us really wants to go on a special trip or if we will need a new car soon, we need to discuss and plan for it.

Having this conversation is also important for couples. You don’t want to have a dream vacation in your brain, only to discover too late that your husband’s car is on its last legs and the money you’ve been socking away has to go for that instead.

Do we need to make any changes to our expenses?

Finally, we consider whether we need to make any big changes to our expenses. See, we’ve stopped living on a budget. Instead, we keep our fixed expenses to below 50% of our income, save 20%, and spend the difference. Since we don’t watch every dollar, it’s helpful to check in with each other once a year or so and make sure we haven’t started overspending too much in any one area.

Whether you live on a more traditional budget or not, though, it’s helpful to discuss any spending changes upfront once a year. This helps you ensure that your spending aligns with both of your values. You can do this by reviewing credit card and bank statements to see where your money is going and discussing whether that works for you both.

By having these conversations, you can ideally head off conflict by looking at the big picture. You’ll be making certain that you’re both on track and working toward building a financial future that will provide the security and happiness you both deserve.

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