Buying big ticket items can introduce a lot of stress into a relationship. If one spouse spends a significant sum without discussing it with the other, conflict can emerge. Similarly, if the couple isn’t on the same page about which big ticket items should take priority or how to save up for large purchases, disagreements often arise. Luckily, by using the right approach, it’s possible to avoid many of those issues. If you are wondering about newlyweds decisions on big ticket items, here’s what you need to know.
Talk About Spending Habits
Before discussing goals, it’s smart to talk about spending habits. This can include personal patterns, as well as insights into how their families treated money while they were growing up.
With this step, both spouses learn about their partner’s perspective. It helps them understand why they may view money and spending – including on big ticket items – a particular way or how various actions on their spouse’s part are perceived.
The purpose of the conversation is to bring awareness. It helps each partner learn about their spouse’s preferences when it comes to spending, as well as understand how a big ticket purchase that isn’t agreed upon in advance may harm the other spouse.
Discuss Your Goals
Usually, buying big ticket items leads to conflict because they are significant expenses. In some cases, they can completely drain a bank account. In others, they result in long-term debt.
Any time a large sum of money is spent, it often means delaying other financial goals. If couples don’t have the same priorities, conflict often arises.
Early in the marriage, it’s wise to have an open, honest conversation about goals. Talking about the financial milestones you would each like to make, as well as why they are viewed as important, gives the other spouse visibility into their partner’s priorities. It lets them know where their values lie.
Prioritize Big Ticket Items
Once both spouses have shared insights into their financial goals, spend time prioritizing them together. Separate your needs from your wants as a starting point. Usually, any needs should come first.
After that, determine what has to happen relatively soon and what can wait. Even needs may be on different timelines, so it’s smart to factor that into the equation.
Additionally, figure out if any require a long-term savings plan to make them happen. This helps you understand the commitment involved, as well as how frivolous choices may negatively impact your ability to reach that goal.
By prioritizing the big ticket items together, you effectively create a list that you can work your way through together. You’ll know what spending is on the horizon, as well as what will be handled once those other purchases are handled.
Figure Out the Budget
A big ticket item usually isn’t something you should buy on a whim. Instead, couples need to look at the financial impact of the large expense and create a plan for handling it.
Often, newlyweds need to save up for a big ticket item. That way, they don’t have to tap their emergency fund for a non-emergency purchase or resort to debt.
Figure out how much you’ll need to spend on the big ticket item. Then, create a plan for saving up enough money together. This can include creating a separate savings account specifically for that purchase, as well as designating a certain amount of money each month toward that goal.
Determine How Much Work It Takes to Earn That Money
If you’re looking at a big ticket item and technically have the money available to buy right away, do one quick exercise before you do. Grab a calculator and estimate the amount of time it will take to get that money back in your savings account.
By calculating how many hours you and your spouse need to work to earn that same amount of cash, you introduce a new perspective. It helps each partner see how much of their effort is being traded for that particular big ticket item.
When you do this exercise, use a net hourly pay rate. Then, divide the total cost of the big ticket item (including any applicable fees, taxes, or interest) by that dollar amount. The result is the number of hours you have to work to re-earn what you’re about to spend.
If you and your spouse believe the purchase is worth that much work, then you can proceed with more confidence. But if either of you has doubts, it could be a sign that buying isn’t actually the right choice.
Revisit the Discussion Before Buying
If it will take a bit of time before buying the big ticket item becomes plausible, then it’s wise to talk about it once more before going forward with the purchase. Priorities and preferences change, and it’s possible something more emergent has arisen since the last conversation.
Now, the intent of this conversation isn’t necessarily to change your or your spouse’s mind. Instead, it’s simply to make sure that the big ticket item still makes sense as you originally envisioned it. In some cases, an alternative may come to mind that may be a better fit, or a newer version may release that offers something different. If that happens, it is a good idea to discuss it. That way, you can choose the right big ticket item the first time.
Talk to a Counselor
If couples are still struggling with making decisions on big ticket items, then speaking to a counselor is wise. Ideally, choosing a professional who is versed in both relationship and financial counseling is the route to take if it’s available. That way, you’re working with a counselor who can examine every side of the equation.
Do you have any other tips when it comes to newlyweds decisions on big ticket items? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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