Creating Financial Goals as a Couple

Creating Financial Goals as a Couple

Financial goals make it possible for you and your partner to achieve the things you dream about. Here are several action items to create – and achieve – financial goals as a couple:

  • Start talking sooner rather than later. Finances can be hard to talk about. People sometimes feel guilty about debt or ashamed that they don’t make more money than they do. More than that, many people consider money to be a private thing that shouldn’t be discussed with others.

    However, the first step to setting financial goals as a couple is to start talking. And the sooner you start talking with your partner, the better prepared you’ll be to make positive financial decisions. Saving for a big purchase, for example, takes time and planning. Having a discussion early gives you more time to start saving.
  • Agree on your goals. Once you’re talking about your finances, you’ll want to agree on your goals. Would you like to pay off your credit card debt? Save for a big family vacation? Have more of a financial safety net?

    After you’ve agreed on what you’d like to achieve, start talking about how you’ll work together to achieve it. The best financial plans require both partners to contribute to the financial goal – whether that means each agreeing to contribute monthly to a savings account or cutting back on personal spending.
  • Keep the conversation going. Plans need maintenance to succeed. That means continuing to talk about them, and checking progress on a regular basis. It’s important for both partners to know all the numbers, even if one partner is the primary manager of the finances.

    Scheduling a regular financial conversation is one way to keep you and your partner on track to achieving your goals. This financial date night is a good way to ensure that things are proceeding as planned. It’s an opportunity to check in and adjust the numbers accordingly.

With open communication and commitment from both partners, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your financial goals.

Jumpstart Your Savings with These 3 Rules

Jumpstart Your Savings with These 3 Rules

While U.S. savings habits are improving, nearly 50% of Americans have no more than $500 in the event of an emergency. If you want to ramp up your savings, every little bit helps. Consider these 3 rules to jumpstart your savings and start building wealth.

  1. Create a budget. Track your expenses for one month to discover how much you really spend. Be sure to track everything, including food, utilities, household items and debt payments. Take your total expenses and multiply it by 6. This the amount of money to aim for saving in your emergency fund.
  2. Make household debt your enemy. If you’re juggling credit card, vehicle and mortgage payments, your savings accounts may be starved. And without enough cash to cover emergencies, many people resort to credit cards and lines of credit to cover unforeseen expenses. So the debt cycle continues. Since you now have a budget, you can see exactly how much debt you have to pay off.
  3. Review your income. With your current level of income, calculate how long it will take to pay off all your debt, then build up your 6-month emergency fund. Depending on your financial goals, consider whether it makes sense to start a side gig, or continue upgrading your current skillset, to continue growing your income.

How to Stay on Track

  • Treat your savings like a monthly bill. Once you have an emergency fund, treat your savings as your most important monthly bill. Write a check to your savings account first, or have money automatically deducted from your checking account or paycheck and transferred to your savings account.
  • Contribute to retirement accounts. Tax-deferred retirement accounts offer a smart way to save money for retirement. If your employer offers a 401(k) or SIMPLE retirement plan, contribute as much as you can. If your employer doesn’t offer a plan, consider opening an individual retirement account (IRA). The money you contribute to a retirement account can reduce your taxable income and grow tax-free until withdrawn.
  • Control your spending. When it comes to saving, think control. For example, control the use of your credit cards. The amount you pay each month in finance charges could go towards savings instead. Also control the use of your ATM card. Get in the habit of giving yourself a regular cash allowance, and try to live with it.
Keys to Success as an Independent Contractor

Keys to Success as an Independent Contractor

The number of independent workers continues to soar in the U.S. According to MBO Partners, there were 64.6 million independent workers in 2022, an increase of 26% from 2021. The number of full-time independent workers increased to 21.6 million, up from 15.3 million in 2019.

Succeeding as an independent contractor, however, can be challenging because it requires understanding a different set of key success factors than being a full-time employee. Here are some tips on developing your skill set as an independent contractor and where to turn to if you need help.

  • Contract for companies with generous payment terms. The time required for companies to pay its bills to contract workers varies from business to business. Investigate a company’s policy for paying its contract workers to make sure it’s what you’re expecting. Remember, cash is king!
  • Market your services by creating an online portfolio. If being a contract worker is your full-time job, you’ll need to always be looking for your next gig. One great way to market yourself to prospective businesses is to create an online portfolio that showcases the work you can perform. You can choose to build a website using a do-it-yourself service or hire a developer to create a custom website.
  • Stick to a budget. As a full-time employee, you know the exact date you’ll receive your paycheck and usually the exact dollar amount. As a participant in the gig economy, however, you could earn a bunch of money in one month and hardly any money the following month. Prepare a financial budget so you can use income earned during your good months to cover costs during low income months.
  • Stay one step ahead of the IRS. Paying taxes is now your responsibility. Participating in the gig economy requires more knowledge about how to meet your tax obligations, so ask for professional help. You can also find more information by visiting the IRS Gig Economy Tax Center.
  • Get advice from others. Working primarily by yourself can leave you isolated from fellow workers. Join a local group of self-employed workers that meets on a regular basis to network and learn what other workers are doing to be successful.

Remember that you are not alone. The complex nature of tax obligations for contractors can be navigated with professional help.

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