Couples Financial Planning: 4 Questions to Ask

When you’re single, you usually only have to focus on your own financial picture. But that can change when a significant other enters the picture.

Once you’re in a serious relationship, you have to decide if you want to be just a romantic couple or if you want to be a financial couple as well. If you’re married, that question becomes easier to answer. However, even non-married couples can have interwoven finances.

“Many people fail to consider the financial aspect of being in a serious relationship,” said Joe Correnti, senior vice president of brokerage product at Scottrade. “Planning together financially can help ensure that both people are on the same page.”

If you decide to become a financial couple, you will need to ask yourself some important questions and consider important factors:

How much of a financial couple do we want to be?

Becoming a financial couple isn’t necessarily an all or nothing thing. Maybe you want to live together and split the mortgage or rent but maintain separate bank accounts. Or maybe you have decided to spend your lives together and now designate each other as beneficiaries to each other’s life insurance policies and IRAs. Regardless of what you choose, it’s important to establish early on precisely what kind of financial relationship you have. Of course, this can change based on life circumstances, so you may want to revisit the issue every once in a while.

A few things to consider:

  • Do we want a joint bank account?
  • Do we want joint credit cards?
  • Do we want each other as beneficiaries on insurance policies?

Together, where are we financially?

Becoming a financial couple means taking on both the good and the bad in each other’s financial lives. If you decide to fully integrate your financial lives, thenyour paycheck” becomes “our paycheck.” Assets and debts accumulated after you become a couple could become “our debt” and “our investments.” Before moving forward, it’s important to establish that starting point together. 

A few things to consider:

  • How much income do we bring in?
  • How much debt are we comfortable with?
  • How much should we set aside for long-term savings?

What are our short-, immediate- and long-term goals?  

What do you both, as a couple, want to accomplish together financially? Answering that question can help you build a roadmap for your financial future. Getting on the same page isn’t always easy. If you find it difficult to agree on your plan, you may want to consult with a professional, including considering solutions offered by Scottrade Investment Management.*

A few things to consider:

  • What kind of lifestyle will we have in the near future?
  • If we have children, when will we have them?
  • What does our ideal retirement look like?

What are our financial priorities?

Having vastly different financial priorities can put significant strain on even the strongest of relationships. Based on your current financial situation, as well as the goals you have discussed, you both can determine what expenses are the most important and what expenses can be put to the backburner. 

A few things to consider:

  • When (if ever) and how much should be saved for a down payment on a house?
  • Should we continue spending money on the extras like a premium cable package or monthly trips to the spa?
  • If we want to have children, are we financially prepared?

Question: How have you approached financial planning with a significant other?

Next step: Are you now part of a couple? Consider opening a joint brokerage account. Or for more information, check out the different types of accounts offered at Scottrade.

*Solutions offered through Scottrade Investment Management involve additional fees.Guidance Solutions from Scottrade Investment Management™ and Advisor Access from Scottrade Investment Management™ are investment advisory services offered by Scottrade Investment Management, Inc., a registered investment advisor. Brokerage products and services are offered through Scottrade, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC, while advisory services are provided by Scottrade Investment Management, Inc. Scottrade Investment Management, Inc. and Scottrade, Inc. are both wholly owned subsidiaries of Scottrade Financial Services, Inc. This is not an offer or solicitation in any jurisdiction where we are not authorized to do business.

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