As you get to know your partner, you begin to see glimpses of the future throughout your relationship. It starts at an early stage when you can only know what’s in you and when you start talking about “one day” topics, such as the holidays you want to take together. Many couples discuss future plans and even accept them to some degree, but no goals have yet been set around them.
We have made our way through the past and present in previous blog posts. In this final blog post, we will focus on the future – you guessed it.
Talk about the future
Although you may have imagined what the future looks like together, you may not consider the financial impact of that future. Think: Careers, taking care of kids, elderly parents and even where you want to live and travel. In fact, all of these things have price tags attached to them.
For us, the location was easy. My fiance, Rebecca, is from the Philadelphia suburb, where Vanguard is based, so we decided to stay with Philly. Once we make that decision, the details start to come out: a spacious guest room for families outside the city, train access to Rebecca for commuting to town, and room for 2 kids (although I think Rebecca is secretly hoping for 3). Career-based, we both enjoy work and want to move on with our careers, but would prefer family time to higher pay for late nights and lots of travel to the office. We both want to be able to take care of our parents when needed. We even joked about building small houses for them in our backyard, which my mother affectionately referred to as her future “granny pod”.
It may seem like a lot of planning, but it’s easier than you think. I suggest you both start to understand what lifestyle you want. Do you want to have a baby? If yes, how many, and when do you want to start your family? Would you prioritize career ambitions or family time? Do you live in the city or suburbs? Money is involved in all these decisions, so it is important to understand how much you need to achieve your ideal lifestyle. If you want to live in a big house, build a family, drive a luxury car and get a stamp on your passport, you will need a lot of resources.
The future can be scary – I got it. And often, the plan will change over time. For example, as you get older, you may be more interested in raising children than maintaining a “double income, no children” lifestyle. You can get a promotion or win the lottery, or you can lose a job or a loved one unexpectedly. Whether it’s a storm or a crisis that comes your way, you’re going to pop up something in your life that forces you to look to the future differently. In such situations – especially those out of your control – flexibility and empathy are important.
Think about past conversations, or even current conversations, and how weak you or your partner may feel during those conversations. You need to bring the screen back and share your deepest thoughts and feelings with each other. Is your partner open, patient, kind, and willing to participate? Do they listen to you and accept what you say? Have you done the same for them? It takes some time to master these conversations. But if you both dedicate the time and effort needed to work through any challenge that comes your way, nothing can stop you.
No matter how stressful each conversation may be, remember the most important thing: this is the person you will spend the rest of your life with. Your goal is to share many beautiful years together and create many beautiful and lasting memories. Don’t think of these conversations as mere checkboxes. Take the time to dive deeper and get the dirty details. You will thank yourself later – trust me. Marriage is the coolest, happiest, scariest and biggest decision of your life. Hug it!
Let’s stop some stress
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