PORTSMOUTH, Va. (8/12/14)--Whether a romantic couple wants to admit or not, financial situations are an inherent part of the relationship equation.
Viewers of a recent episode of The Hampton Roads Show, which is broadcast on WAVY-TV in northeastern North Carolina and Virginia, received a little advice on how couples can solve that money equation from BayPort CU's Vice President of Finance Lewis Smith, who appeared as a guest.
Lewis, who was celebrating his 26th anniversary with his wife the day of the show, said couples can tackle their mutual financial situations with a tool called "CPR," or communicate, plan and review.
"The first thing is to communicate," said Lewis, whose credit union is based out of Newport News, Va., and has $1.4 billion in assets.
"When you get in a relationship with somebody, you love everything about them, (but) 'Wait a minute, you've got a $10,000 credit card bill?'" Lewis said as an example. "A lot of times that doesn't come out until you're combining households, so that's something you have to look for. Be able to communicate up front before you even get started."
Next, it's time for couples to begin carving out a plan.
"So now we've discussed it and we realize we've got debt we've got to deal with," Lewis said. "One of the things you can do is come up with a spending plan."
That plan can include decisions about how much to put away into savings, how much to put into a 401(K) and even whether the couple would like to open a joint checking account, Lewis said.
Lewis added that this should be an ongoing conversation.
Finally, after the plan has been in practice for a period of time, it's important for the couple to sit down and review how well the plan is working, and then be willing to make any necessary adjustments.
"The important thing to remember is that you're on the same team, that you're sitting side by side and having the discussion, not opposite the table as an adversary," Lewis said. "If you do that hopefully you're on the road to (financial stability)."