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April 21st, 2015 |
By Patrick Shurney, Senior Vice President, Chesapeake Region Market Leader
It’s Week Four of our “Money Moments of Truth” blog series. As Sandy Spring Bank celebrates Financial Literacy Month this April, we are taking you on a journey through various stages in life, and highlighting a few healthy financial behaviors along the way. This week we’ll look at how planning and conversation can help couples avoid financial heartache.
They say that opposites attract, and this was certainly the case for me and my wife, Donna. When it came to money, Donna was a saver and I was a spender. As newlyweds, money was not always a main topic of conversation, but Donna and I experienced our “Money Moment of Truth” early on when we realized that we wanted to spend and save our money more wisely.
Although I had worked around money for some time, I realized that as a couple, we did not have a financial philosophy. We earned a living and took care of our obligations, but we were not on the same page financially.
In an effort to gain some self-awareness around our financial picture, we enrolled in a personal finance course for newlyweds. As part of the class, we monitored our finances for a full year to see where we truly spent our money, and where we could cut back or improve.
Once we started paying closer attention to our finances, we noticed that there were many places we could change right away. First, we adopted a simple money philosophy: Spend less than you earn, and save the difference. This concept has stayed with us throughout the years, and is something that I still share with newlyweds today.
The second change that we made was to look at our monetary priorities and make sure they aligned with our overall goals as a couple. If we didn’t agree on something, we talked about it together and made a mutual decision about where the expense should fall.
Finally, we made the decision to focus on giving to those in need. Someone once told me that, “You can have money, but money can’t have you,” and that advice has stuck with me through the years. It has truly served as a guide for us to always remember our neighbors in need.
While you may not spend your honeymoon building a budget spreadsheet, my advice for newlyweds is to learn from my mistakes – start having finance discussions with your spouse early on so that you can be on the same page financially from the start.
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