Many couples are finding it harder to achieve the American Dream of homeownership. Even though they have dual incomes, somehow they seem to spend nearly everything. As more financial matters appear, health care costs, the birth of a baby, the loss of a job, an unexpected maintenance issue, tax debt, or loved ones needing financial help, saving money becomes quite challenging.
But experts agree it’s not impossible to get out of debt and save for your future and a home purchase. It will, however, take discipline and motivation. The motivation needs to come from within. Look at your circumstances and challenge yourself to find out what will motivate you to create the ability to save each month.
Do this in a weekly meeting with your loved one. The more the two of you come together and share the same understanding and hope for the future, the easier it will be to keep each other motivated to reach your financial goals.
Set a financial business meeting each week to review your situation. Be open and willing to share and learn from each other. Take notes and keep them in a computer where both of you can access it or in a binder. Use the meeting as a time to see where you can cut expenses but be gentle and don’t get critical.
For instance, if you feel he’s not using his gym membership, try suggesting that you make that cut to free up the cash to save or use it on another mutually important expense. Suggest that, instead, the two of you can spend more time exercising together outdoors or at a less expensive facility like the YMCA.
If you haven’t already, create roles. Determine who is going to pay which bills, and how each of you will save money. Create accounts for mine, yours, and ours. Define in your weekly meetings where extra things such as extended-family-members’ birthday gifts will come from – will they be paid for together or from one of the separate accounts? Setting up guidelines helps to make the relationship run smoothly.
Make a list of both the positive and negative issues both of you have had with finances. When you’re aiming for a large goal such as paying off a lot of debt and/or saving for a downpayment on a home, it’s important to understand each other’s financial mindset. Learn what financial issues trigger anxiety in each other. Find out what about money makes each other happy… spending it, saving it, seeing lots of it in a bank account. You’d be surprised how many people are in relationships (even long-term) and they don’t know the answers to these questions.
Yet, the answers reveal a lot and can often explain and predict how people will behave with their money – and their relationships – now and in the future.
Money is a subject than can make many people uncomfortable. Conversations you have about money, your plans for the future, and how much money you hope to save will help you find comfort and ease both in saving money and in future discussions about it. Homeownership doesn’t just have to be a dream.
Written by Phoebe Chongchua