Last Wednesday, an article in The New York Times reported that many successful marriages work because both partners are on the same page when it comes to finances. The author, Tara Siegel Bernard, points out that marriage throughout the centuries has typically been a financial arrangement. It’s only in the past couple of centuries that the notion of love was wedded to marriage. Now though, we seem to have come full circle. Instead of marrying for money, it’s best to marry your fiscal soul mate.
The article got me thinking, especially when Bernard asserted: “So much of what we want — or don’t want — out of life boils down to dollars and cents, whether it’s how hard we choose to work, how much we consume or how much we save.” One of the things that makes writing about personal finance fun is that you’re really writing about your core values and the choices you make in life. Beneath all the discussion about retirement, debt, savings, and frugality, we’re really analyzing what we want in life. Do we want the big house, the big car, or the big bank account? If we’re lucky enough to have a little money left over after the necessities are taken care of, how will we use it?
This article sparked some discussion between my husband and me about what our next financial goal should be. Now that we’ve knocked out my debt, where to go next? Bernard emphasizes the importance of long-term planning. It makes a lot of sense because day-to-day temptations can overwhelm us if we let them. There’s always a new toy to have or a little treat to buy. However, with clear long-term plans and a budget, we’ll be able to resist the money drains a little bit better.
For us, the big long-term plan is to bring about a better work/life balance. Now, we’ve got to figure out the steps that will get us there. I’m going to start reviewing our income from the last five years to build a household budget and see how much we can realistically save. All this falls in line with the article’s next piece of advice: run your home like a business. By tracking income, expenses, and a budget, we’ll do a better job managing our resources for what we really want: time to enjoy life, resources to travel, and the security of having a financial cushion.
Fortunately, we are pretty much on the same page when it comes to finances and what we want out of life. Now, I just need to get serious about creating the plan to get us there! How about you? How do you and your partner manage money?