Starting Off Right, Financially Speaking
Thinking about money can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s one of those things we push off and hope it will work itself out. This is especially true for religious couples, as we are taught that God provides and that what we earn is preordained.
The problem is that we are supposed to be responsible and wise with what we are given and have to do our part to earn enough for our families. When we do not, finances can become a major source of stress. And no marriage needs more stress.
Financial planning, making a “plan” as to how you’re going to manage your money, can help avoid a strain on a marriage, and can give you the tools on how to work as a team (a vary valuable skill for marriage).
Welcome to Married Life — Mazel Tov!
Shana Rishona, the first year of marriage, is usually a joyous time– you’re busy setting up your home and lavishing attention on your new spouse. It’s also a time that can be characterized as “financially carefree,” for better or worse. Whether you’re paying your own bills or getting help from parents every month, the expenses are relatively low which might mean that your financial stress is also.
The best thing to do is ride the wave of financial calm and start to create a positive, proactive financial plan and budget. Starting off right in the beginning will make it easier for you to continue to be financially responsible as more expenses are introduced into your lives.
You and your spouse should think about creating a monthly budget which lists your income and expenses. The goal is to make sure your income always exceeds your expenses. In other words, more money should be coming in every month than going out.
Teamwork Is Key
Financial decisions and financial planning should be a team effort. In fact, many couples go on a monthly financial “date night”– one night a month is reserved for any and all discussions about the finances. Since the topic of money can often be emotionally charged, especially for women, it helps to do something enjoyable during your financial date night such as going for ice-cream, sushi, or whatever you enjoy that will make the night calm and comfortable.
When it comes to financially planning for your future, too many young couples make the mistake of doing nothing. Why? “I’m only 20! Why should I be saving my money for retirement which is forty years away?!” This mindset is causes big trouble.
Consider this: take your wedding money– usually ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand– and invest it. While it takes a lot of self-control to take all that money and put it aside, it’s one of the smartest and most responsible financial decisions you can make.
Finding an experienced financial advisor to help you figure out an investment strategy that works for both you and your spouse is highly advisable. Investing can be complicated, so it helps to have an expert’s help.
When you speak to a financial advisor, chances are they’ll mention life insurance and opening a retirement account such as an IRA (individual retirement account). Getting life insurance when you’re young is a smart financial move since it can be cheaper to purchase life insurance when you’re young and healthy, than when you’re older with ailments. It is also advisable to open a retirement account as soon as possible. Due to compound interest, opening a retirement account when you’re young means giving your money more time to grow so when you’re ready to retire, you’ll have a nice nest egg.
Money doesn’t have to mean stress!
Starting off right with your finances is one of the best gifts you can give your marriage. Learning to budget, being conscious of spending, working as a team, and communicating well are all healthy aspects of a strong marriage.
Sara Glaz received her undergraduate degree in Economics from U.C.L.A. She’s currently a financial advisor at Munk Wealth Management in Hewlett, New York and writes regularly for Mishpacha magazine. Sara welcomes questions and comments. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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