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In a recent survey,1 retiree couples were asked to share their best financial advice for newlyweds. The top four items were:

  1. Make all financial decisions together.
  2. Make a budget and stick to it.
  3. Make sure you have an emergency fund to cover six months of expenses.
  4. Don’t hide expenditures from each other.

Spouses are rarely built the same.  Before marriage, love is discussed more than money. As couples get to know each other over the years, money can take a front seat in discussions as they often find that different hobbies and different levels of risk-taking lead to money disagreements or at least affect a family budget.   Men and women truly are different, and emotions can run high regarding money matters.

Although we are built differently, it is encouraging to know that we have similar fears and similar goals. In a recent love-and-money survey,2 “the number one financial fear among men and women was not having enough money for retirement. Both men and women also ranked their biggest financial goals in exactly the same order, with paying down debt and saving for retirement as the top two spots.”

Communication about spending and investments is also necessary.  Men fear losing their jobs and making bad investments significantly more than women do.   Men overwhelmingly make the final spending decisions about cars and investments; women have the last word on major appliances and buying things for the kids. Different is not bad; consider it complementary.  Ensure that you and your spouse understand each other and have agreed on a plan.  One of the worst things that happened during the recent financial collapses is that many spouses and families were surprised when a collapse occurred and they had not had a discussion about the risk levels of the spouse who made the decision. Finances and investments are not enjoyable to talk about in most families, but it must be done. 

Schedule some time with your spouse to talk money. Talk about your budget, college expenses, and investments. What are your retirement goals/plans? Discuss some “what-if” scenarios.

Teaching Kids Money Management
Teaching them about the value of money and putting its role into proper life perspective is our job as parents.   
We also believe in teaching them the value of earning their money, so we did not allocate an “allowance.” Rather, we give them “commission” based on how successful they were with their chores and jobs around the house.  If they do a poor job or spend less time than normal, they are compensated less.  It is a powerful message.   If possible, teach your kids or grandkids budgeting concepts at a young age.  We used a Larry Burkett giving bank when the kids were younger that taught them to save 10 percent and give 10 percent as well.  We matched dollars they invested in a savings account for a car and college.   My wife does a great job of teaching the kids the value of comparison shopping and savings incentives such as coupons.

Following are some age-appropriate teachings you might consider.

Ages 4 to 6:  Teach them the value of the currency and coins, use a piggy bank or giving bank; let them spend money and take them on shopping trips; have them give in the offering at church.

Ages 6 to 10: Start a weekly chore chart with compensation; open a savings account and match deposits; let them give money to different charities.

Ages 10 to 15: Get them a debit card; have them track their expenses; modify the chore chart with incentives or penalties for nonperformance; provide more emphasis and matching dollars for car and college; incentivize grades and consider rewards for A’s; allow them to do jobs outside of the home, such as babysitting, lawn work, taking care of pets, etc.

Ages 15 to 19: Focus on college savings, and incentivize extra savings toward that; consider additional work outside the home or supporting a home business with Mom/Dad; let teens see you pay bills; put additional emphasis on debit card/credit card teachings; have the kids go on a missions trip and raise their own money for it; draft a budget or contract that depicts who will pay for what at college (car, gas, insurance, etc.).

Many tools to help you are available in A Lasting Legacy.


1 2011 Fidelity Investments Couples  Retirement Study (publication data?)

2 Jena McGregor, “Love and Money,” Smart Money, November 2003.


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P.O. Box 3764
McKinney, TX  75069
E-Mail: doug@futurefoundationbuilders.com


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