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Investing for Two

Whether you're an investment junkie or a timid novice, investing needs to be part of your relationship. So what makes investing so complicated for couples? Let's see ...

  • One partner is more interested in the topic than the other.
  • One partner is investing more money than the other.
  • One partner doesn't like the delayed gratification that investing requires.
  • One partner is skipping work to day trade your home equity loan.

Rest assured, there are ways to satisfy the risk-taker and worrywart in your relationship. And, yes, it involves talking.

First, couples should set investing goals. That may sound like humdrum homework, but it's really just a formal way of saying that you two lovebirds need to sit down for a grown-up conversation about what you want to do with your money in the future. So don't skip this step.

Investing simply means putting your savings to work for you, so start with your long-term goals. Around The Motley Fool, we define long-term as, at the very least, five years. A decade or longer is even better. What major expenses do you predict down the road? Perhaps you're investing for your child's college tuition. Or maybe you'd actually like to retire when you're ready to stop working.

Your goals should have time frames associated with them. From a purely logical standpoint, the more time you have until your goal, the more risk it makes sense to take on. You should also consider some ground rules, including an agreed-to dollar amount for the investment account and an assessment of each partner's risk level.

Next, consider how you're going to invest. Are you comfortable putting your money to work in the stock market? Is your sweetie? Would he rather play it safe in a money market account earning 5% interest? Can you see the fight coming?

What if investing partners have substantially different investing styles and levels of risk tolerance? It's time to learn the art of compromise. Before you can reap the deep and lasting benefits of investing as a couple, you must settle on a level of risk you can tolerate as a couple. This may mean being less aggressive than the more investment-savvy partner might like. It might also mean being more aggressive than the more risk-averse partner might like. When you decide to invest as a couple, you're giving up your my-way-or-the-highway rights.

More advice about money for two:

Dayana Yochim is the author of The Motley Fool's Guide to Couples & Cash and a semi-pro bridesmaid. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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