3 tips for couples to better manage finances during the coronavirus pandemic

Money

You stay up at night worrying about money. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID19), you barely sleep. The news about the economy makes you uneasy about your job security, your household budget, and your relationship. If this resonates with you, then you might try taking control of your situation by working together with your partner as a couple.

Use these 3 tips from financial experts to kickstart the process.

3 tips for managing finances as a couple

1. Communicate

Find time to talk before doing anything else. Sit down with your partner one-on-one or meet together with a qualified financial adviser. Choose what feels right for you, but make sure to prepare in advance of your conversation. Aim to make the most of your time.

Choose a time when you and your partner both feel ready to have a serious conversation. You might pick a quiet evening after the kids fall asleep, or maybe over coffee on a weekend morning. Whenever you choose, set the agenda beforehand. Knowing what you need to cover keeps you focused and limits any chance for distractions.

Conversations about money might feel awkward or stressful. That is normal. To help you get started, our personal finance experts recommend some talking points.

- What are your money goals?

- What do you want to achieve this year, in the next 5 years, in the next 10 years?

- What is your current financial situation?

- Do you know your general spending habits?

- How much money do you normally spend and save each month?

- Where in your budget do you spend the most money?

- How do you feel about job security?

- Do you have a plan to cover each other if you or your partner lose your income?

These conversation-starters help you understand your true financial footing. You may feel tempted to avoid uncomfortable questions. Don’t skip them. To gain the full benefit of this tip, you need to address your reality honestly.

2. Budget together

Approach your finances as a team. You and your partner both should understand household spending and savings habits. Breaking up financial responsibilities might free up time, but it leaves one of you in the dark. Instead, work together to create a system of checks and balances.

Budgeting together helps you better address your true household needs. You might know more about your typical grocery bill, for example, but your partner might have a better idea of your average gas station receipt. When you work together, you paint a more complete picture so that you truly keep your budget on track.

3. Build an emergency fund

An emergency fund keeps you afloat when other savings fall short. This money remains separate from your normal bank accounts and your retirement savings. It provides a cash cushion when you simply do not have the money to afford basics necessities otherwise. Learn more about how to get started and how much to save in our emergency funds blog post.

You might dip into savings accounts if you or your partner loses work. You should start saving in your emergency fund before reaching that point. Generally speaking, you might contribute more when you feel less certain about your job security. Any extra money that you can spare bolsters your financial buffer.

Bonus: review insurance coverage

Especially now, you and your partner might review your health insurance plans. Take the time to see what your policies cover. Make sure you have the appropriate coverage for any health challenges you might face, especially as a result of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Staying on top of your coverage only takes a few minutes. Most insurance providers publish relevant plan details online or mail them to customers after signing up. Check your plan basics to confirm your deductible and maximum out-of-pocket costs. With these numbers, you can calculate the most that you will spend with your insurance plan in a given year. Add your deductible amount to your maximum out-of-pocket cost amount to find the total.

For more information about your insurance plan, contact your provider.

Safely Finance may be able to help

Reading is the easy part. Things get hard when you start to apply what you learn. Growing your savings takes time, building smarter spending habits requires effort, and keeping tabs on it all can feel tedious.

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