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USAA Community Good Money Moves for Couples.jpg

Marriage is a coin flip.


You may never have looked at it in quite those terms, but it’s a reality. According to the American Psychological Association only about half of first marriages survive. That’s a bit scary.


If you’re working hard to end up on the glass half full side of the equation, money is or should be a hot topic. Why? Because it’s a common stressor and often called out as a top area for marital discord.


These money moves may help you move from survive to thrive:  


Make goals a group exercise. When I first came to USAA, I attended a company-wide meeting and the CEO threw up an image of a rowboat. In the middle of the crew there was an individual rowing in the wrong direction. I don’t remember the exact message, but the image has stuck with me for years. In marriage, you’ve got a team of two and you’ve got to be paddling in the same direction. What direction? I don’t know, but you should. Establish your goals…together.


Talk money on a consistent basis. Here, frequent, open and honest communication regarding your finances is the objective. Establish your own money chat routine. It could be a daily check-in or a monthly summit. The key: Create a cadence of discussions about money that ensure you and your spouse are aligned and aware. I’ll let you run with “aligned and aware,” but those two words are powerful and cover a lot of ground. 


Create a winning account structure. Over my years of working with couples, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly as it applies to what I would call day-to-day “operational set up.” Joint accounts, separate accounts or a combination. While studies have shown that joint accounts are indicative of a healthy relationship, we use a combo at our house. Figure out what winning means and execute.


Draw a line in the sand. Marriage is the ultimate in juggling. Successful marriages are typically characterized by couples who maintain their individual identity, but in the context of the team they are as a couple. While it may seem like a minor thing, I suggest that when it comes to purchases or big financial decisions (portfolio moves, insurance, etc.) you clearly delineate when individual autonomy is turned in for the need to work in tandem. The line in the sand may move, but it should be understood. The ever-changing nature of the line hit me at a recent presentation when a more seasoned individual scoffed at a $200 limit on a purchase without consulting their spouse. Different places in life may mean different lines, but lines are still important. 


Walk through the what-ifs. Who will take care of the kids, if we aren’t here? What happens if something happens to me? Are your parents moving in with us? I could go on and on, but proactive conversations with agreed upon strategies and outlooks can head off real heartache and headache during a crisis.


Celebrate wins. Hey, it can't always be nose to the grindstone, save, save, save, cut, cut, cut! Take some time to pat each other on the back and say, you’re a winner. They chose you, right?


How do you and your significant other handle money in your relationship? Share in the comments!


About the Blogger: JJ Montanaro is a Certified Financial Planner® professional and part of the Military Affairs team at USAA. He’s a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and has over 20 years of financial planning experience.



Disclosures: "Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements."

The information contained is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining professional financial advice. Please thoroughly research and seek professional advice before acting on any information you may have found in this article. This article in no way attempts to provide financial advice that relates to all personal circumstances.

No Department of Defense or government agency endorsement.

The trademarks, logos and names of other companies, products and services are the property of their respective owners.

USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its affiliates. Financial advice provided by USAA Financial Advisors, Inc. (FAI), a registered broker-dealer, USAA Investment Management Company (IMCO), a registered broker-dealer and investment adviser, and for insurance, USAA Financial Planning Services Insurance Agency, Inc. (known as USAA Financial Insurance Agency in California, License # OE36312). Investment products and services offered by IMCO and FAI. Life insurance and annuities provided by USAA Life Insurance Co., San Antonio, TX, and in NY by USAA Life Insurance Co of New York, Highland falls, NY. Other life and health insurance from select companies offered through USAA Life General Agency, Inc. (known in CA (license #0782231) and in NY as USAA Health and Life Insurance Agency). Banking products offered by USAA Federal Savings Bank and USAA Savings Bank, both FDIC insured. Trust services provided by USAA Federal Savings Bank



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Frequent Visitor

We maintain separate accounts for checking and savings.  We do purchase stocks jointly.


Thanks for sharing @JustMe2U 

New Member

My wife and I have not saved much over our 34 years together. We would like to start asap; What steps should we take? How can we get the most on returns if investing?


Hi @BW360,

Thank you for taking the time to comment and I applaud you on starting to save now! I have asked one of USAA's financial folks to put together some tips to share with you and I will update this thread when I hear back. Thank you again!