Equally Yoked – Part 2

In “Being Equally Yoked – Part I” we talked about being equally yoked from a standpoint of a couple having a shared destination before deciding to enter into retirement. This time we will discuss the importance of being equally yoked financially before deciding to take that same journey together.

When it comes to describing how people handle money, most individuals fall into one of two categories: saver or spender. So, does being equally yoked financially mean that you both should be savers or spenders? Not necessarily.

If both of you are savers, however, your path to retirement is probably fairly secure, given you’ve sat down together and developed a plan on how to get there and what to do once you arrive.

While having two savers in a relationship is probably ideal, being a saver who’s in a relationship with a spender does not automatically spell doom for your retirement goals. However, you probably need to come together and hammer out a solid financial plan first. Here are a few things to cover when you sit down together and discuss your financial plan:

  • How much money do we need on a monthly basis to live the lifestyle we want to live?
  • What things are we each willing to cut back on in order to preserve our retirement funds?
  • Does our investment portfolio reflect our retirement goals?

Believe it or not, spenders can teach savers a thing or two about money. Says Kathryn Bossler, a financial wellness expert with Greenpath Financial Wellness in a recent USA Today article, “If there is open communication, in a healthy relationship, this could be a really good system of checks and balances. The saver will make sure that there are savings while the spender will make sure there is a quality of life.”

The goal is not to hoard all the money the two of you make and live like paupers. As with most things in life, the goal should be, balance. If you save every penny you’ve ever earned in your life, but you’re not willing to spend a dime of it to do the things that you’ve always wanted to do in retirement, what’s the point?

One strategy that works well for either money-style combination involves setting aside separate accounts dedicated for specific activities.

For instance, before even considering retirement, you should have an account set aside solely for emergencies. That way, when the unforeseen comes up (and it always does) you won’t be forced to use the money you had saved up for that once-in-a-lifetime vacation you’ve been looking forward to. Or if you both love to travel, you should have an account dedicated for travel and travel only. Same thing for entertainment, education, or whatever activity you plan to indulge in. This strategy works, not only for covering your planned indulgences, but the necessities of life like health care and transportation as well.

The important thing is making sure that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to how your retirement dollars will be spent. If both of you are committed to the same financial goals, you’re much more likely to reach them.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t forget about the other possible money-style combination; both spenders. If you yourself are a spender, and you’re in a relationship with someone who shares your predilection for conspicuous consumption, well, you’ve really got your work cut out.

As Ms. Bossler states in that same USA Today article, “A spender being married to a spender can be something that can easily spin out of control. There’s not a checks-and-balance system. It can certainly cause financial trouble because there’s no-one there being responsible, saying, ‘We’re spending too much.’”

We’re spending too much. Four words you don’t want to hear when you’re in retirement.

For other really helpful tips on planning a successful retirement, check out the ten steps in this article from AARP: http://www.aarp.org/work/social-security/info-05-2011/10-steps-to-retire-every-day.html

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