Setting Financial Goals as a Couple

Valentine’s Day is next week, and what better time of year than to sit down with your partner and talk about your financial goals as a couple and make plans for your monetary future?

Talk

The first step in achieving your financial goals together as a couple, is to talk to each other. Communication is one of the most significant components of any relationship, and discussing your finances together is super important. As you’re both talking, you’ll each want to mention the goals you both have for the two of you, your individual financial goals, and be sure to jot everything down or save them on a note in your phone or on the computer.

As you’re discussing, be sure you’re each respectful of what the other is saying. If you don’t understand something, ask questions – but you never want to make your partner feel bad about one of their goals or that it’ll never happen. Your financial situation as a couple is something you’ll both need to communicate about, see what’s realistic and what isn’t, and find ways to achieve your goals together.

Prioritize

Once your financial goals have been agreed upon and written down, it’s time to prioritize the order of how and when to achieve them. An important component of prioritizing your goals together is to decide which ones are must-haves, and which ones are nice-to-haves. For example, if your family is growing and you no longer have the space to live in a condo – buying a single family home would be a must-have goal. An annual cruise vacation is a nice-to-have. You’ll both also want to do the same with your individual goals.

Another part of prioritizing is how long it might take to reach your goals. Short-term goals are typically ones that can be completed in under a year (for instance, buying new appliances for your kitchen). Long-term goals typically take anywhere from 3-5 years or more to accomplish (boosting your retirement savings or renovating your home). Once you’ve prioritized your list, you’ll want to choose the first goal to achieve. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do this, just as long as you both are on the same wavelength.

Plan

Now it’s time to plan out how you’ll achieve your financial goals together. The best way to do this is to be specific about what the goal is, measure the goal and track your progress, decide on a way to attain your goal, be realistic about if it’s possible to achieve this goal, and set a time for when you’d like to have the goal completed by. Once your goals are planned out, you can officially begin to put money aside and start working on achieving them as a couple.

Check in on your progress

Once your plan is set and you’ve begun working on your financial goals, it’s important to keep track of your progress and potentially reconfigure your plan if you need to. You’ll want to do this at least once a month if possible. For example, maybe you both have realized you didn’t save as much money during a certain month and didn’t meet your monthly savings goal – but when you went back and reviewed your expenses, you saw that you went out to dinner or bought takeout several times a week. For the next month, try to plan to eat at home instead of dining out. You can meal prep together and plan all your meals in advance so you don’t get tempted to order out if you both come home too tired to cook one night. It’s okay to make mistakes and readjust your budget together – the most important thing is that you are both monitoring your spending, communicating, and changing your financial habits for the better moving forward.

As always, the team at First Financial can help you better manage your money and reach your financial goals. Call us at 732.312.1500 or stop by any of our local branches.

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Article Source: CUInsight.com

 

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

5 Money Subjects You Need to Talk About Before Tying the Knot

Bursting the love bubble by sitting down and having a serious talk about finances is never fun, but open communication about money is a good idea in any relationship.

Since it’s wedding season, those thinking of tying the knot should have a serious discussion about money at some point, preferably before you move in together or actually get married. Even if there are no plans to combine finances completely, it’s still good to clear the air and see if you and your future spouse are on the same page.

Here are five things to talk about before moving forward:

1. Debt

One of the biggest things you need to talk about is debt. Get it out there. Even if you won’t be sharing finances, one person’s debt can have a profound impact on household finances. If you want to buy a home together or if you want to do other things, someone’s obligations can hold you back as a couple.

Have an honest talk about your debt levels, and see if you can make a plan to pay down the debt. Even if you don’t share finances, the partner without the debt is going to have to be supportive until the debt is paid off.

2. Credit

Credit goes along with debt, but it isn’t exactly the same thing. While it’s not vital that your partner have a perfect credit score, it is a good idea to see where you both stand, and be honest about the situation.

At some point, if you decide to get a joint loan together (for a car, wedding, or a home), both of your credit scores will matter. Talk about it so you know what you need to do together. If one of you has a poor score, you might have to wait a little longer before you accomplish some of your loan goals.

3. Money Philosophy

This is a bigger deal than you might think. It’s a good idea to know whether or not you have the same money values before you take that next step. Spenders and savers need to be able to come up with a plan to compromise. If you like spending your money on lots of books, and your partner prefers movies, you might need to come up with a plan to make sure you both get what you want at least some of the time.

4. How to Handle Kids and Money

If you think you’ll have kids together (and that’s another conversation you need to have before taking things to the next level), you need to talk about how you’ll handle kids and money.

Do you want to save up for college for them? How will you handle allowance? Extracurricular activities?

These are big questions you need to tackle together so you are on the same page. It’s vital to know early on so that you aren’t unpleasantly surprised later.

5. Retirement

Chances are, you both want to save for retirement. But do you have a shared vision for what that looks like? Before you commit to a long-term, life partner relationship, make sure you talk about how you want to handle retirement. It can be tough if one of you expects to sit at home most of the time, and maybe play golf a couple times a week, while the other wants to sell the house and everything in it to travel the world.

In the end, you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page so that all your money goals are being reached together. Take the time to have a discussion now, so there are fewer surprises later.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for moneyning.com

3 Ways Money Could Be Hurting Your Relationship

One cause for concern for many is financial issues and how money can put a strain on your bond with your significant other. Here are three ways your finances could be killing your relationship.

Shopping secrets.

Are you spending way more money on yourself than you’re admitting to? It’s good to treat yourself at times (who doesn’t love to splurge?) but hiding it from your partner may cause major tension. If you’re keeping your purchases secret your loved one may think that you’re hiding other things as well. If you feel it’s necessary to keep your shopping habits to yourself, there could be a reason for it. Is your partner worried about your finances while you’re out spending frivolously? Like every relationship issue, communication is key. If there’s something you want to buy, talk about it. If your partner thinks money is too tight for that purchase, respect their feelings and hold back on buying that new handbag until you’re at a place where you both agree your finances are in good shape.

Credit card debt.

Did you enter into your relationship with card debt? If so, make sure your partner knows off the bat how much you’re in the hole. It’s much better to be up front about it than for them to find out later. According to USA Today, the average American consumer has close to $4,000 in credit card debt. Don’t feel bad about what you owe, but be open about your plans for tackling the debt. Talk about the poor decisions you made that put you in debt in the first place and set goals together for setting things right.

Avoiding money discussions.

As mentioned above, communication is incredibly important to a healthy relationship especially when it comes to money matters. Not only is discussing your finances essential but not waiting until you are in a tight spot to hash things out is also key to a solid bond. Maintaining trust and having patience can help your partner feel comfortable being open about their financial habits. How someone spends their money is often a reflection of their priorities in life, therefore it’s always important that you’re both honest so you can make sure you remain on the same page.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com