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by Jodi Baldwin, vice president of operations, High Country Bank

It’s the season of love, but before partners take the next step in their relationship, they should shape their financial plan. Experts say couples taking the next step should recognize that it’s not only a partnership of hearts, but also a partnership of finances.

“It’s no secret that people can become blinded by love, but if you stick to a plan, your financial situation doesn’t have to be impaired,” says Jodi Baldwin, vice president of operations at High Country Bank.

An important component of any relationship is a solid financial footing. Suggestions to achieve financial intimacy:

  • Be mine, or yours? Will you and your partner or partner-to-be keep finances separated or combine them? Consider individual money styles, having one joint savings account and then separate accounts that you can use how you’d like. Making these financial decisions together will help you find a system that works for you.
  • Love’s Cost. Partners that tackle money problems together, and take mutual responsibility for solving them, will inevitably find that their overall relationships are better for it, so calculate your monthly costs and discuss how bills will be paid. Both may contribute to the bill payment, but who will physically write the check to pay the bills, monitor the investments and take care of the taxes. Consider setting a date every month to review and discuss finances.
    Sharing credit. It’s important that partners are aware of the other’s credit situation. Being in a relationship with a person with bad credit will not drag down your stellar record. However, your other half’s credit will be factored in when applying for joint financing. Knowing ahead of time will help you to plan more strategically.
  • Cupid’s Arrow. Partners should develop a plan to shoot down existing debt, starting with the balances that carry the highest interest rates. Whether or not the pair works as a team or alone, debt must be tackled. Think twice before every purchase and ask yourself if it’s worth not putting that money in your savings. You’ll be able to eliminating frivolous spending this way while keeping your priorities top of mind.
  • Sweet Savings. Saving in a partnership fosters teamwork and is essential in times of financial hardship. Decide how much you want to save together and do it automatically from your paychecks. It’s important to be realistic when budgeting your monthly savings goal. Try using your bank’s online banking website or other free online tools that segment your spending in different categories.

Baldwin is the vice president of operations at High Country Bank. She has been with High Country Bank for 14 1/2 years. High Country Bank is the only locally owned and operated community bank serving the Arkansas Valley for more than 130 years. A member of FDIC, with locations in Buena Vista, Salida and Canon City, it proudly engages the community through its donation program, education and community action.