Tips for Discussing Finances in Your Relationship

You’ve probably never heard your partner say, “let’s talk spreadsheets.” However, all couples have to broach the money conversation at some point in their relationship. Talking about finances with your partner is never an easy conversation, but it should be done as frequently as possible – especially if you’re living together, getting married, or starting a family.

According to a recent study, couples who talk about money regularly are happier in their relationships than those who discuss it less frequently. Overall, money plays a big role in relationship problems – which can lead to breakups or divorce if not managed the right way.

The good news is that talking about money can make your relationship stronger and even help you get closer to your partner.

When to start talking about finances with your partner

There’s no cut-and-dry answer for when to tackle the money conversation, but you should at least have brought it up before the relationship turns serious. Before you move in together – you’ll need to understand what your partner earns, how much they can contribute to the household, and what their other expenses look like. Before you get married, you’ll want to know about your partner’s debt and what their credit score looks like. This knowledge can help build equity in relationships. Plus, their financial status will impact you should you both wish to obtain a loan for a bigger purchase down the road.

Start small

Don’t start your first date by asking, “how much do you make?” Instead, trickle in financial topics by asking them about their goals in life. This could be anything from, “What’s your dream retirement age?” to “Where do you see yourself living in the next ten years?”

Experts recommend asking “what if” questions to not only learn about their financial priorities but also their values. Some icebreakers could include, “If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?” and “If you had to choose between a high-paying job with high stress or a low-paying job that you love, what would you pick?”

The more you talk about finances in this way, the easier it will be to talk about their financial situation over time.

Be understanding

Everyone comes from different backgrounds, values, and financial limitations. If your partner’s parents didn’t teach them effective money management skills, it doesn’t mean they can’t learn. Talking money makes people vulnerable, so it’s important to listen and be sympathetic too. Responding with anger will cause your partner to not feel safe having this type of conversation with you, leading to a lack of trust and transparency.

You also don’t want to just bring the conversation up out of nowhere, give your partner some advanced notice. A great example of this is simply saying, “I’m trying to get better about budgeting and want to talk about finances more regularly. Could we plan to talk about it this weekend?” Having a conversation goal in mind is even better. If you’re planning a romantic trip together, also plan a budgeting conversation so you can save up for your getaway.

Be consistent

It should be a regular part of your routine to talk about finances. When paying your bills, plan to do a monthly financial check-in with your partner. The goal isn’t to micromanage your partner’s spending habits, but rather to see where you both land on your goals and where you can improve. Over time it will become a regular part of your relationship, and will help make you both feel like you’re on the same team.

If you need some help with budgeting and financial literacy, look no further than the team at First Financial. We can give you recommendations and advice based on your financial situation. Contact us to get started, or stop by your local branch to speak with a representative today!

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Wedding Planning Ideas on a Budget

Are you planning a wedding and looking to cut costs? You’ve come to the right place! One of the biggest factors of planning a wedding is figuring out what you can afford, and how you can stay within your budget. In 2019, the average wedding cost was reported at $38,700, with expenses primarily associated with the ceremony and reception. However, wedding costs greatly vary based on location and size.

Don’t let this take away from your excitement – planning an affordable wedding is very much within reach if you play your cards right. Here are our helpful tips for planning a wedding on a budget.

Save for Your Wedding

When it comes to making any big purchases, it’s best to start the process by building your savings first. The longer you save for your wedding, the better. Ideally, couples should start saving before they even get engaged. While that may sound odd, it’s important to start to save for bigger purchases down the line, even if you’re not yet ready to get married or buy a home at the moment.

Based on your income and budget, you can determine how much to put into your savings account per paycheck. Even starting small will make a big difference once it’s time to begin wedding planning!

Create a Wedding Budget and Stick to it

More than a quarter of couples in the U.S. report going into debt to pay off their weddings. However, building a realistic budget and sticking to it can significantly lessen the chances of that happening.

Start by determining the type of wedding you want and how many guests you would like to have. Then write out a list of essentials for your wedding like the venue, attire, photographer, music, food, rings, gifts, and more. Research how much these expenses could potentially cost, and prioritize what you need versus what you want. This breakdown will help you understand the total investment and identify where to cut costs.

Choose a Venue You Can Afford

The wedding venue may end up being the most expensive part of your special day, but luckily there are plenty of options for every couple. If the standard large wedding hall exceeds your budget limitations, here are some additional venue options to consider:

  • A spacious backyard
  • A rustic barn
  • A music or art gallery
  • A small destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort
  • A public park or outdoor gazebo
  • A restaurant

Make sure to compare the prices of each option before making a final decision on the venue. Some may have limits on the number of guests who can attend, or the type of caterers you can work with. These factors should be considered as well.

Time Your Wedding Wisely

Wedding costs will vary depending on the time of year. January through March is considered off-season in the wedding industry, so you’ll likely find the lowest costs around that time. Some venues also offer discounts for events booked on Fridays, Sundays, or mid-week. Though keep in mind, weekday weddings may be difficult for your guests to attend.

Tap into Your Network

Do you have a photographer, DJ, or hairstylist in your friend group or network? Consider utilizing their services. Going with a vendor you know, may also help you secure a bit of a discount! If you need help with cooking food or setting up decorations, relatives or friends could also help in exchange for a wedding gift.

Try DIY Wedding Decor and Favors

Head over to Pinterest for inspiration on trendy DIY wedding decor ideas. Then visit your local dollar store to see what affordable items you can use for your reception like vases, jars, candle holders, table cloths, ribbons, and more. Since flowers can get pricey, try substituting for greenery instead.

Wedding favors for your guests can easily get overlooked. Rather than overspending on customized wedding swag, try handmaking gifts your guests will appreciate like candles, chocolates, jams, and more. Plus, it will be fun to make the favors together with your soon-to-be spouse!

Want to open a new savings account or apply for a personal loan to cover wedding expenses?* Visit a First Financial branch or contact us to speak with a representative today.

*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the program. Click here to view full Rewards First program details. Some restrictions apply, contact the Credit Union for more information.

 APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates are subject to change. Maximum loan is $25K and maximum term is 60 months. Not all applicants qualify, subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a Personal Loan, and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. See credit union for details.

How to Plan the Wedding of Your Dreams on a Budget

You’re engaged, congratulations! We’re sure you’re over the moon with stars in your eyes and visions of wedded bliss. You’ve probably been thinking about this day for as long as you can remember. You’ve got your Pinterest boards, a planning notebook, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. But, have you actually put a price tag on any of those ideas and visions?

$35,329

That’s the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. And that doesn’t even include the honeymoon! After hearing this sky-high number, you’re probably ready to simplify the process, save money, and elope. However, it’s absolutely possible to have the wedding of your dreams without spending well over what you can afford and without going into debt for years to come after the honeymoon. Prioritizing your must-haves, creating a strict budget, and allocating your money accordingly will go a long way in planning for your big day. So, let’s get started!

What’s important to you?

Before you can create a wedding budget, there are a few things you need to decide. First, determine what kind of wedding you want. What do you see when you think of your big day? A country club reception? An elegant downtown loft? A backyard barbecue?

Once you answer this question, have the budget talk with everyone contributing to the wedding. When you start talking money, make sure you talk about more than the total amount you’ll spend. For instance, break down the wedding budget into categories – ceremony, reception, decorations, etc., and decide what you’ll spend in each category.

Now that you’ve taken this step, you’ll need to determine the most and least important items on your checklist. Is there anything you can cut out altogether? Sit down with your fiancé and determine what you both REALLY want and let that vision guide your budget.

Track your spending.

Leave some room in your budget. No matter how down-to-the-penny it may be, unexpected expenses are going to pop up. Your budget will evolve over the planning process, so be prepared by giving yourself a little bit of a cushion.

If you hop on the web and search “wedding budget worksheet,” you’ll find a ton of different options. Find what works best for you. This could look like an Excel spreadsheet, a Google Doc, or one of the hundreds of templates available on wedding planning websites. Regardless of your template, tracking your spending throughout the entire process will be imperative. You’ll be able to ensure you’re staying well within the lines of your budget. Plus, it serves as a great guide or list to see what you’ve paid for, how much you’ve spent, and how much you have left to cover.

There are apps. Use them!

There are a few fantastic wedding-related apps that are either free or inexpensive. Use them! Most apps have the option to create free wedding websites, invitations, and save-the-dates. Get started with these suggestions:

  • ZolaZola has everything you need in one place. They even have a great selection of templates for you to design your wedding website for free! Your website is crucial for keeping your loved ones informed by sharing information about travel arrangements and relaying the important details of your big day. You can also build and manage your registry, design and order invitations or save-the-dates, and review your guest list.
  • ThumbtackPhotographers, DJs, bands, or florists – no matter what service you’re looking for, Thumbtack will have it. This app allows you to browse services in your geographic region to compare prices, check out reviews, and even talk directly to the vendor.
  • WeddingHappyAre you a list maker? If so, WeddingHappy is the app for you! It is the ultimate to-do list. It’s a great app that will help you manage your wedding-related tasks, payments coming up, and vendors you’re working with.

Your wedding day will be one of the most amazing days of your life! Don’t let money and budget-related stress take that away from you and your significant other. There are many options out there to make this day incredible – no matter what your budget is.

Once you have a set budget, financing your big day might be an option that comes up for you. Stop in and talk to us! At First Financial, we have a variety of financing options such as personal loans, lines of credit, and low-rate credit cards – that could help you with the cost of your wedding. Let us help you make your big day one you’ll never forget!

5 Nontraditional Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, but it can also be one of the most expensive. You want your day to be perfect, but with the average cost of a wedding totaling $25,200 – that price tag is hard to swallow. That’s a lot of money to pay for a few hours of celebration.

Thankfully, you don’t have to spend your life savings or go into a huge amount of debt to have a fabulous wedding. You can still have a beautiful day on a tight budget. Here are 5 tips to help you save on your special day.

1. Set the Date During Off-Peak Seasons

One of the first steps to planning a wedding is setting the date. Choosing the right one has a big effect on your budget. Wedding season tends to run from April to October, and during this time – costs can be a lot higher. If you’re flexible, consider scheduling your wedding during an off-peak season or less popular time of year. Additionally, Saturday is the most popular day of the week for weddings by far. While it may be slightly inconvenient for you and your guests, a weekday or Sunday afternoon wedding can save you a lot of cash.

2. Rent Your Dress

For women, choosing the dress is one of the most exciting parts of the wedding planning process. Your dress is probably something you have been dreaming about for years – but the fact of the matter is, most dresses don’t come cheap. Do you really want to end up paying thousands of dollars for a dress you’re only wearing for a few hours?  In order to avoid this, many women are now renting wedding dresses for their big day.  This way, you can get your dream dress and still save money.

3. Limit the Options at the Bar

Your guests will undoubtedly be looking forward to the open bar at your wedding. But, you don’t necessarily need to go all out either. To save money on drinks, you have a couple options. You could limit the bar to wine and beer only — just don’t forget about champagne for toasts! Even though the selection will be limited, the drinks will be flowing and your guests will still have a great time.

4. Get Creative with the Venue

Traditionally, most weddings are held in a hotel, country club, or banquet hall – but these locations tend to be the most expensive. To save money, get creative with your venue. Think of places that mean something to you and your partner – like a park, library, or aquarium. You might be able to get a good deal on a nontraditional approach to your venue. Just be sure to get all the licenses and permits you’ll need before moving forward with the ceremony.

5. Stay True to the Purpose

Wedding planning can definitely get a little crazy. And sometimes, you might want to spend more money just to please everyone. However, the most important thing for you and your partner (as well as your budget) to remember – is that the wedding day is to celebrate you merging your lives into one. Stay true to yourselves, and keep the purpose of the day in perspective.  If there’s one thing to remember, it’s this: stop stressing and enjoy the celebration.

Coming into your special day with the right attitude will allow you to focus on the true purpose of what a wedding is supposed to be. And doing so will allow you to have more money to spend on the honeymoon and your married life together!

Getting married in the Monmouth or Ocean County NJ area? Apply for a Financial Helper Wedding Loan from First Financial. We’ll help you cover the expense of your big day with a low interest rate!*

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates are subject to change. Maximum loan is $25K and maximum term is 60 months. Not all applicants qualify, subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a loan, and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. See credit union for details. Federally insured by NCUA.

Article Source: Connie Mei for Moneyning.com

How to Get Married Financially

Getting married can be a whirlwind experience. Between venue searching, trying on dresses, renting tuxes, assembling the bridal party, booking a DJ, and cake tasting – it can be easy to forget all that getting married means. Underneath the ring exchange and sharing of vows, there is a potentially life-long financial contract which you should also be prepared for.

Before you marry the love of your life, you need to get financially engaged with one another. Right now, disagreements over money are a top reason for separation and divorce. You have already popped the big question, and now it is time to ask a few more.

Here is a list of financial questions you should ask before tying the knot:

  1. What does the ideal marriage look like and how does it fit into our career goals?
  2. What is our savings plan going to look like? Our budget?
  3. Should we keep our finances separate, or join them together?
  4. Who will be responsible for making sure which bills get paid?
  5. What types of insurance will we need and how will we pay it?
  6. Do you have any loans or debt that needs to be paid off?
  7. Do you want a family, and if so – how big do you want our family to be? When should we start saving for college?
  8. What does our ideal retirement look like and how do we get there?

There are many keys to a successful marriage, but together you can make sure you leave out the poorer in “for richer or poorer.” Openly discussing your finances can keep you happy, healthy, and wealthy in your marriage.

Article Source: Tyler Atwell for CUInsight.com