5 mistakes couples make with their money

RALEIGH, North Carolina -- Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and experts said one way to make that love last a little longer is by being honest and smart with your finances.

Alex Sutherland, president and investment advisor with LifePlan Group, said there are five big mistakes couples are making when it comes to money.

Financial infidelity

Roughly 29 million Americans admit they are keeping financial secrets from their partners, like a secret credit card or bank account.

Sutherland said the best thing to do is avoid secrets because they are financial infidelity, which can put a big strain on your relationship.

He said each person should be honest about debts and their financial situation.

"I'm not saying you can't have a separate account for your own purchases or for buying gifts," Sutherland explained. "The key is making sure your partner is aware of it."

No emergency fund

Sutherland said about 55 million Americans do not have emergency savings, which can be used for situations like car or home repairs.

Nearly one-third of baby boomers claim they have no money saved, which is a dangerous position to be in so close to retirement.

"I recommend my clients have three to six months worth of expenses saved in a separate account that can be accessed in case of an emergency," Sutherland said.

Ignoring debt

More than half of couples enter marriage with debt, Sutherland said. Once they are married, they disagree on whose responsibility that debt is.

He suggests working as a team to help pay down debt.

"I recommend starting with your lowest balance. Devote as much as you can to that debt, while still making minimum payments on all your other debts. Once that is paid off, move to your next smallest debt."

Neglecting to talk about retirement goals

No matter what your age is, experts said you should be talking and thinking about retirement.

Sutherland said couples should be asking each other what their dream retirement looks like and then set a shared goal and create a track to achieve.

No Social Security strategy

Married couples have more options than a single person when it comes to Social Security benefits -- there are over 500 different claiming strategies.

"Couples have the advantage of staggering when they claim Social Security," experts with LifePlan Group said. "Taking it at different ages has many benefits, but will be different for everyone. Make sure you speak to a professional who can help guide you."
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