Don’t Let Finances Wreck Your Relationship

By Cortney Meng

Anybody in a relationship knows that love and money will invariably intersect. Relationships are partnerships, and managing finances simply comes with the territory. But the results of a recent survey conducted by SunTrust Bank revealed that finances are the primary culprit for many couples’ relationship stress. According to the survey, 35 percent of respondents cited financial management as the biggest cause of friction with their partner—ten percent higher than second place finisher, annoying habits.

The issue is much bigger than figuring out whether or not to split a restaurant bill. Financial management underlies most of the big decisions that couples will make together, from marriage, having children, purchasing a home, to taking a vacation or planning for retirement. Without developing a stress-free financial planning strategy, couples may end up overwhelmed, stressed out and never attain the goals they set for themselves.

In order to make sure that you and your partner don’t let finances become a bone of contention in your relationship, consider adopting some of these practices for managing your money together.

Set your budget around shared financial goals. If only one partner in a relationship is concerned about reaching a financial benchmark, your finances are likely to become a stressor. To make sure you and your partner are saving in synch, set a series of short, medium and long-term goals which you both aspire to achieve. That way, you’ll be able to stay on track and budget accordingly to reach the carrot dangling in front of you.

Leave room in your budget for separate spending too. Nearly half of respondents to SunTrust’s survey reported that they had different spending habits than their partners. Disproportionate spending is a breeding ground for resentment, so be sure when you’re planning your monthly budget to allocate an equal amount for each partner to use as they see fit, no questions asked. That way, an individual inclined to save more will have that chance, while someone inclined to spend more won’t need to ask permission. And because there’s a set cap on personal spending, the couples’ finances won’t get out of control.

Seek the services of a financial planner. Managing finances within the context of a relationship can be stressful because it is difficult to take the emotions out of a purely mathematical process. In such cases, consider consulting with a financial planner. You’ll receive an objective third-party opinion from an individual that can give you a clear path to meet your goals, as well as investing strategies that will be best suited for your lifestyle needs and wants.

Stop by any office of The Milford Bank to learn about the products you need to achieve your goals. You can also check out more information on our Learning Center here.

Calculating Your Net Worth: Five Common Questions

by Mark Attanasio

Even if you never actually see your paycheck and it is automatically transferred to your bank account each week, you may still know how much you’re making—maybe even down to the penny. Most people are fully aware of their income. But when it comes to net worth, the story is entirely different.

This is problematic because, unlike your income, net worth encompasses all your assets and debts. Calculating your net worth can provide you with a true measure of your financial well being, as well as providing you the information you need to improve your fiscal standing.

To help you figure out what you need to know about net worth, here are some of the questions others are asking too.

What, exactly, is net worth?

There is a simple formula that easily defines net worth. Add up all your assets—income, savings, investments and property. Then subtract all your existing debts. The total is your net worth.

When will I need to know my net worth?

While you won’t need to keep track of your net worth on a day to day basis, there are critical moments when it’s a good idea to have a firm grasp of your true value. You may want to understand the long-term trends for your net worth (how quickly you’re making or losing value) when planning your retirement or your estate. You may need it when looking to secure a mortgage or apply for student loans on behalf of your children.

I can’t touch my retirement accounts for 30 years. Do they count?

Your liquid assets are only one part of the net worth equation. Even if you don’t receive a distribution from your 401(k) or IRA accounts now, they’re still considered a part of your net worth.

Do I have the same net worth as my spouse?

Depending on how you and your spouse manage your household finances, your net worth may be identical or it could be drastically different. If you’re both listed as co-owners of your home, share a credit card or car, those assets will be attributed to both of you. If you both purchased vehicles separately, only the vehicle to your name will be considered for your calculation. However, if you add your partner’s net worth to yours, you’ll know your household net worth, which itself is important to track.

How do you account for outstanding car loans and mortgage payments?

When incorporating existing loans into your net worth calculation, you cannot truly consider houses or vehicles as assets until they’ve been paid for in full. So if you took out a $100,000 mortgage and have paid off $99,000, your home is still considered a $1,000 liability. But once you’ve made your last payment your home becomes a $100,000 asset.

Now that you have a better grasp on your net worth, stop by any office of The Milford Bank to see how you can continue to improve your financial standing today. You can also learn more at our online Learning Center or check out more financial calculators here.

Wealth Management Lessons from the Billionaires’ Club

By Karuna Kasbawala

When Forbes put out its latest list of the 500 wealthiest people around the world, the individuals selected had a collective net worth of $4.7 trillion. While you may not be in a position to ask for their advice on where to bring your private jet for maintenance, there is plenty for the average person to learn about wealth management from the people who do it better than anyone else.

Below are the five individuals that topped Forbes’ list, as well as a wealth management lesson you can apply in your own life.

Bill Gates: Gates is an annual contender for the richest person in the world. But his path to success wasn’t always clear. After enrolling in Harvard in 1973, he dropped out of school two years later to start a company you’ve probably heard of before—Microsoft. While earning a college degree can have a tremendous impact on your earning potential, don’t make the mistake of thinking it is the only way you can become successful.

Carlos Slim Helu: While lesser known than Bill Gates, Carlos Helu’s net worth is nearly identical. How has he done so well? The key was starting early. At 12 he was investing in bonds, stock and learning how to do book-keeping and read financial sheets from his father. If you have young children, don’t shy away from teaching them the importance of wealth management. Click here for additional resources to getting your kids educated about banking today.

Warren Buffett: Buffett owes much of his fortune to his ownership of Berkshire Hathaway. Much of the corporation’s work revolves around real estate, but Buffett himself is not a customer. He still lives in the home in Omaha, Nebraska that he purchased 60 years ago for just $31,500. Take a look at your own life—are there more cost-effective and practical ways to handle your assets?

Amancio Ortega: As the founder and chairman of Inditex—a famous fashion company in Europe—Ortega knows that when it comes to accumulating wealth, every step you take is important. As a young teenager in Spain, Ortega started working as a shop hand for a shirt maker in his town. He perfected his craft for years before finally launching his own line of bathrobes and opening his own business. Amancio Ortega’s success proves that all work has value. Even if you’re at the bottom of the ladder now, the hard work you put in can pay dividends down the road.

Larry Ellison: Larry Ellison is a testament to the notion that giving up hope should never be an option. Even though he is a successful Silicon Valley magnate today, Ellison was not exposed to computer sciences early in his life like other high-earning tech innovators. In fact, he was only introduced to computer design during his second attempt at higher education.

You don’t need billions of dollars to have a high quality of life. But if you’re like most, having a little extra money in your savings account wouldn’t hurt either. The wealthiest people in the world all had to earn their first dollar at one point, just like everybody else. It is their discipline, hard work and humility that helped them keep the momentum moving forward. Find more ways to manage your wealth at our online Learning Center by clicking here.

Six Things You May Not Know About Labor Day

by Pat White

With Labor Day coming up on September 5—the first Monday of the month—many of us will be taking advantage of the impending three day weekend. Whether you’re using the chance to take one last weekend getaway to the beach before the end of summer, hosting a backyard party with your friends and family, or heading out to the mall to take advantage of Labor Day sales, we all have one thing in common—we’re grateful to have a little extra time for ourselves.

However you choose to spend your Labor Day, be sure to take a few moments to remember the meaning behind the holiday. We wouldn’t have the wages, benefits or time off that we enjoy today without the activism of our ancestors.

Here are five things you may not know about Labor Day to better educate you on the origins of the holiday.

  1. The idea for Labor Day is believed to have begun in Canada in 1872—22 years before it became a national holiday in the United States! In a show of solidarity for striking workers, 1,500 citizens from Hamilton, Ontario demonstrated in the streets. Their aim? A nine hour work day.
  2. Even though Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894, it was first celebrated in New York City by the Central Labor Union in 1882. Over the following 12 years, 23 states marked their own celebration before the Federal government opted to make it a universally recognized holiday.
  3. Congress voted unanimously to make Labor Day a national holiday in 1894, just six days after the conclusion of the Pullman Strike. During the strike, 125,000 railroad workers walked off the job to protest wage cuts without a corresponding decrease in rent and utility costs in their company-owned housing. During the strike 30 workers were killed, 57 were wounded and property damage exceeded $80 million.
  4. The average wage for a laborer during the 1890’s was 15 cents per hour. A skilled worker, such as a carpenter, would still expect to bring home an average of only 32 cents per hour.
  5. President Cleveland, though he supported the establishment of the Labor Day holiday, was fearful that empowering workers would give rise to strikes, riots and strengthen socialist and anarchist movements.
  6. The first minimum wage law was passed in New Zealand the same year that Labor Day was established as a national holiday.

Ultimately, we should not celebrate Labor Day without forgetting the activism and difficult conditions that workers endured in our recent past. Because those individuals were willing to stand up and fight for their rights, we now enjoy the fruits of rising wages, shorter work hours and better benefits.

All offices of The Milford Bank offices will be closed in observance of Memorial Day. Be sure to download our mobile application though, and you’ll be able to conduct your banking conveniently without having to stop at one of our locations. You can download the application here.