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It’s Good to Dream: Couples’ Bucket Lists and Money Challenges
Updated: January 07, 2021 |
Taylor Kovar, CFP

Financial Goals and New Year’s Resolutions for Couples

Can a dream improve your relationship? Do you have a bucket list?

Have you heard someone say they are adding something to their “bucket list”?

Creating a Couple’s Bucket List

Don’t think of a big, orange bucket that smells like a hamster cage. A bucket list is a compilation of activities a person wants to do and things they want to achieve before they die.

Why is it called a “bucket list”?

Deciding on financial goals as part of a couple's bucket list.

Well, we had to look it up.

Apparently, the list contains items to accomplish or see or experience before one “kicks the bucket”. Ugh. Okay. Not a happy visual, but a good idea.

Research shows actually writing down something you’d like to accomplish makes you 80% more likely to do it. When you’re sharing your life and your finances with another person, drawing up a couple’s bucket list also ensures that you are on the same page and have the same priorities. If you can relate your dreams with your financial goals, for instance, you’re that much closer to starting to tick a few items off that list.

So our New Year, New Money You Challenge is to make a dream list both of you can get behind. No bucket needed. We recommend you and your spouse pick 3 couple money goals for this year. Three things you would like your money to accomplish for you in the next 365 days.

It can be three small things or one big thing and two small, or any combination that makes your day “in the trenches” seem more worthwhile.

  •      Sign up for the class you have been wanting to take
  •      Take your kids out individually, each month
  •      Go on a vacation together
  •      Paint your house
  •      Read a motivational book each month
  •      Sponsor a child
  •      Save money

Let your mind DREAM and DREAM Big!

Write those 3 money goals on sticky notes for the mirror, the fridge, or your car. Or put those 3 items on a monthly or weekly reminder on your phone’s calendar. Whatever it takes to keep the goals in front of you.

You work hard for your money; make sure this year it works hard for you.

How to Stick to Your Couple’s Bucket List’s Money Challenges

Every year, people make New Year’s Resolutions. The third most common resolution is to spend less and save more. However, only 10% actually keep that resolution. So the question is, “Should you even try to set financial goals as a couple?” We say, “Absolutely!”

Here are three ways to keep working towards your couple’s bucket list and make your “New Year, New Money You” shine!

Money Challenge Tip #1

Start with REASONABLE financial goals. Most people tend to say something like, “I want to be completely out of debt by June!”. Then, later, June rolls around and you are have paid off about 1/10th of that. When resolutions are unreasonable, you can understand why only 8% of people accurately accomplish any New Year’s Resolutions. You could instead set a reasonable couple’s money goal to pay down maybe 25% of that debt each quarter or pay off half this year and the other half next year. Financial goas should be reasonable and obtainable and allow you to actually get some forward momentum.

Money Challenge Tip #2

Make your money list. There are four main areas to concentrate on making SMALL SHORT goals: insurance, taxes, investments, and retirement.

Insurance: Shop rates. Are you paying more than you need to?
Taxes: Start sooner. If you always wait until the last minute, make a goal to get them done early in 2024.
Investments: If you are currently putting away $0, make a goal to put away something. Shoot for $50-100 a month.
Retirement: Get real and see what you will really need. Check out this online calculator as a good place to start.

Money Challenge Tip #3

Make one BHAG, Big Hairy Audacious Goal! You just have to have one! Here is our BHAG this year. We bought a car and put half down and then financed the other half. Our BHAG is to pay the other half off this year. If it happens, we will feel awesome, like rock stars! But, if it doesn’t happen it’s not going to ruin the Kovars’ financial situation. Swing for the fence.

Tracking Progress Towards Your Couple Money Goals

You take the time to make a better life. Not a perfect life. Just a better life.That’s the whole point of having a couple’s bucket list.

Are you actually getting closer to your couple money goals, though, or are you stuck in the dreaming phase? Most people let their finances boss them around like a grouchy toddler on a sugar high. But you are taking steps to improve your finances and your relationships.

It’s not flashy or earth shattering, but it’s important. You have to review last year. Sometimes, the biggest money challenge is to “get real with what’s real”. Take a little time to evaluate last year, reward yourself for your successful efforts, and try to see where you could be doing better in working towards your financial goals.

To make this exercise a little easier, here is a checklist:

  • Savings for current needs – Did you get off course? What caused you to get off course? Your rainy day fund?
  • Savings for your future – Did you add some to a 401(k)? College savings? Or retirement savings?
  • Debt – Did your debt decrease? Increase? By how much?
  • Spending – Are you an “oober saver”? – Did you make a “spending goal”?
  • Memories – Did you make some great memories?
  • Charity/Church – Did you feel good about the contributions you made to your church and/or charity last year?  What is going to be different this year?

Take some dedicated time to evaluate the progress you made and note any rabbit trails or not-so-great facets of your last year’s finances.

Celebrate—your steps toward a better life.

Recalibrate—your missteps for a better year, this year.

Bonus Money Challenge: Consider Doing Good Together

If you are fortunate enough to have money, we encourage you to find ways to “share the wealth”. Give to others. This isn’t as selfless as it sounds: whether as an individual or a couple, giving back has some real benefits for the giver. As closely as you should track your progress toward your financial goals, there’s nothing wrong with setting aside a little time and money for helping others.

Consider: Who can you help this year?

How can you share the monetary resources you have? A little or a lot. Who needs your help?

After a rough year financially. When you can only donate a little, isn’t it better to wait until next year when maybe, you can give a lot?

Not really.

Include charitable giving in your couple's bucket list.

We would challenge you to find some portion of your finances to give to a worthy cause, this year. Your final New Year, New Money You Challenge is to choose a charity and donate to help their good work. Does this mean you have to write some crazy, big check? No. Although, we’re sure they would accept it. Just give generously and from your heart.

Imagine someone in need, opening your financial gift as if they discovered it wrapped with a big bow and note just for them. Explain to your children how this gift, and the sacrifice you make in giving it, will help others in need.

You are diligent in taking steps to improve your money and your relationships. And now that effort will extend beyond the walls of your home.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to have goals, maybe especially as a couple. Money challenges, such as saving more, investing in yourselves, and using technology to keep track of your finances can all help to achieve these. Most importantly, though, New Year’s resolutions for couples can help to build a stronger relationship. Knowing that you are both actively working towards a particular future together is a great motivator. Next time when you’re thinking about an uncomfortable financial decision, keeping your couple’s bucket list in mind may help you to make the right choice.

Taylor & Megan Kovar

The Money Couple

Taylor & Megan Kovar posing at the Fredonia Hotel in Nacogdoches Texas



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