The Annual Financial Meeting
It's a good idea to sit down at least once a year throughout your marriage to have an involved discussion about your finances.
Don't wait until a time of crisis to review and plan. That can load financial discussions up with stress and anxiety. Instead, your annual family financial meeting allows you both to assess -- calmly and rationally - where you are, to determine if your financial goals have changed and to decide what you need to do to meet your goals.
Suggested topics of discussion might include:
- Important documents
Keep your important documents in a safe place, and make sure you both know where they are. This should include your insurance policies, wills, tax forms, bank-account numbers and investment records – not to mention passports, birth certificates, and other key pieces of ID that you don’t carry every day.
- Current debts and assets
Add up all of your debts. See how much you have paid off in the past year and decide if that's acceptable or if you need to try harder in the coming year. Do the same with assets. Understand how your money is working for you and try to determine if it should be working harder.
Get an idea of what you've been spending your money on. If your spending doesn't match your priorities, fine-tune your budget to help you get the most out of your income.
- Re-evaluate Your Goals
Revisit the financial goals you made in the last annual meeting. Are you moving towards those goals? Do those goals still matter to you? Talk about any other goals you would like to work on, both in the short and long term.
- Find Your Vulnerability
Identify the weak links on your financial armour. Do you have too much debt? Are either of your jobs/incomes not secure? Do you have insufficient income to cover your spending? Just evaluating these weaknesses can help you avoid some pitfalls. But you should also talk about how you can strengthen these areas and incorporate those strategies into your financial goals.
- Day-to-Day Responsibilities
Is the division of responsibilities you made at the beginning of your union still practical? Is it working out or does one person feel overburdened?
- Learning about yourself
What have you learned about your financial self in the past year? It's as important that you talk about the emotional role of money in your life as it is that you talk about its practical role.