Planning for the future as a couple

How one couple navigated financial challenges and created shared goals for the future.

Planning for the future as a couple can be challenging at times, especially when it comes to personal finances.

See how one couple, Abby and Mark, navigated a move to a new city and financial difficulties to grow closer and develop a plan for their future.

A different kind of audition

Abby and Mark met as theater majors when they were cast in the same show. 

But soon after they began dating, Mark went to England to study abroad. And over the next five years, they spent half of that time managing a long-distance relationship. 

“If we could beat that, then we could make it through anything,” Mark says.

The two were eventually engaged, but finances and physical distance slowed their plans for a wedding.

“We decided to postpone the wedding and move to the same place instead,” Abby explains. 

Finding an apartment and jobs in a new city

Abby and Mark decided to move to Philadelphia. Though the city was new to them both, it offered theater opportunities and a chance for a fresh start.

“It was really exciting to be living together for the first time,” Abby says. “But every tiny little bit we had saved went into moving here.” 

In addition to spending all their savings, Abby and Mark also opened credit cards to pay for some of their necessities. It started to add up, and they both nearly maxed out their cards.

Abby was able to find a job, but Mark had a more difficult time. And as Mark looked for work, he worried about paying his bills, not hurting his credit score and keeping their new apartment. 

Eventually, Mark found a job at a coffee shop. And today, he and Abby both work part time and perform. 

With Abby and Mark both earning income, they were able to keep up with their bills. But they struggled to save for future goals—such as their wedding—as their extra money was going to paying off debt. 

Paying down debt while saving for the future

Abby and Mark struggled to balance bills with their desire to save for the future. 

“As far as our wedding plans go, we don’t really know a solid date, because we aren’t really saving a tremendous amount of money each month,” Mark says.

Working toward shared goals was even harder since neither Abby nor Mark had a good idea of how much money the other was earning or saving. 

As a possible solution, Mark suggested they merge bank accounts to pool resources and simplify things.

“It’s our money,” Mark says, “and when we start thinking about it like that, I feel like we’re going to be a lot better off.”

But Abby was hesitant. She prided herself on being financially independent. Plus, she worried about contributing her fair share. The more the couple talked about it, however, the more comfortable she became. 

It also started a bigger conversation about planning and budgeting

Combining finances and setting shared goals

Talking through all their options and working together helped Abby and Mark put a plan in place that they both felt good about.

They decided to tackle the debt from their move and give themselves two to three years to save for their wedding. 

“If we start putting a number on it—how much we’re going to save, how much we’re going to budget—that’s going to be the best way to go,” Abby says. “I think if we keep it going, we can start saving for things even past our wedding, eventually starting a family and going down that whole journey.”

With greater financial transparency and a stronger financial footing, Abby and Mark have bright hopes for their future.

Says Mark: “I love everything we have planned for the future together.”

Committing to Combining Finances

Deciding whether to combine finances with your partner can be a challenge, but you’ve got options.

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