4 financial ways to say "I love you"

Financial prudence and planning can be romantic—seriously.

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Key takeaways

  • Bare all—financially—by talking about what you earn, what you own, and what you owe.
  • Work on a plan to get out of debt, so you have more money to save for your future.
  • Plan for financial goals together.

Chocolates get eaten and flowers wilt—but financial responsibility can be a lasting way to show someone you care. Put your wallet where your heart is with these financial acts of love.

Bare all—financially

A solid financial foundation can strengthen your relationship—and that foundation should start with trust and partnership in money matters. But many married couples don't even know the financial basics about their spouse: More than 4 in 10 couples don't know exactly how much their partner makes, a Fidelity study found.*

It's fine to maintain financial autonomy, but you should still make sure that you both have a clear understanding of your combined money situation—and that you're both on the same page with goals and expectations. You may have very different ideas about debt, saving, and spending, but thinking about the goals you'll be able to achieve together may help you meet in the middle. Get the conversation started by talking with your partner about your assets and liabilities: "What you earn, what you own, and what you owe," as financial guru Jean Chatzky says.

Being in a partnership comes with a few financial advantages over being single—especially if you have 2 incomes. But the first step is knowing how much money is coming in and going out, and setting up a spending and saving plan that works for both of you.

Lose your baggage

Having debt is sometimes unavoidable. But making minimum payments on high-interest debt and failing to save for emergencies are money mistakes that could lead to more debt in the future. Make a plan with your partner to knock out debt together, so you can save more money or even spend more on fun stuff today.

After all, money that goes to paying interest on debt could be used in much more efficient ways—like saving for an emergency or putting money away for the future.

Invest in your relationship

No matter where life takes you both, it will cost money—and probably more than you think.

Setting savings goals and going after them as a team can bring you closer together. For instance, are wedding bells a future possibility? Are you planning to buy a home or start a family? Even if it's just a future vacation together, figuring out the financial pieces is a big part of setting the wheels in motion to achieve your dreams and living the life together that you want.

Consider using Fidelity’s "50/15/5" spending and saving guidelines:

  • Spend no more than 50% of your take-home pay on essentials—that includes housing costs, groceries, health care, transportation, and debt payments.
  • Save at least 15% of your pretax income for retirement—that includes any match you may get from your employer.
  • Save 5% of take-home pay for emergencies. Aim to accumulate at least enough to cover 3 to 6 months' worth of expenses. Then keep saving 5% of take-home pay for unexpected expenses.

After you've met your essential expenses and saved for retirement and emergencies, you could use some of the leftover money to pursue your short-term goals.

Here's another tip: Make your saving automatic. You can schedule automatic transfers from your checking or cash management account to a savings or investment account. Arrange for the transfer to happen on the day you get paid, so that the money is out of sight as soon as you get it.

Plan to grow old together

When you're young, the thought of saving money for the distant future can be daunting—are you really supposed to save money for something 40 years or more in the future? Yes! Believe it or not, setting aside money at a very young age is one of the best ways to help ensure that you have enough in retirement.

Time is one of the most important ingredients in your investing strategy, along with the amount you're able to save and your rate of return. Thanks to the magic of compounding, time is arguably one of the most powerful variables when it comes to investing. Compounding happens when earnings are reinvested and begin earning a return of their own. Over time, your investments have the potential to grow when any earnings are added in with the original principal—particularly if that growth is tax-deferred or tax-exempt when it’s in a qualified retirement account like a 401(k) or IRA.

If youth has already passed you by, don't worry! The next best time to start is right now. Sit down with your partner and talk about the kind of life you'd like to share when you're 70 years old. Then make a plan for how to get there.

Next steps to consider

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Unmarried couples need to plan for the future too.

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This information is intended to be educational and is not tailored to the investment needs of any specific investor.
Investing involves risk, including the risk of loss.
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