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Why Hiring a Financial Adviser Could Be Good for Your Marriage

A few years ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled, How Couples Can Resolve Their Biggest Fights Over Money.  The article points out, as most couples are aware, that money is one of the biggest sources of marital conflict.  According to the primary expert in the article, financial psychologist Dr. Brad Klontz, in many marriages, one spouse tends to be more of a saver and one tends to be a spender.  He explains that these predispositions are often rooted in fears and emotional baggage related to money that date back to childhood.  While uncovering and listening to these fears is obviously central to diffusing the conflict, Dr. Klontz also advocates the pragmatic approach of setting savings goals and seeking compromise on how to achieve them.

This is where a financial advisor can help.  The process of developing a financial plan encourages couples to discuss and outline their financial goals.  This includes determining the timing and amount needed for short-term goals, such as new cars, vacations, and home renovations, as well as long-term goals, such as retirement, college funding, a house purchase, etc.  The financial plan provides an opportunity for couples to discuss the alternatives and to establish and prioritize their goals together.  For example, one couple we know recently decided that their primary goal was to buy a boat in retirement because they love spending time together on the water, and they were willing to downsize their home and delay retirement by a year to reach that goal.

The experience of working with a financial adviser can also help bridge the gap in relationships in which one person is generally in charge of (and comfortable with) the family finances and the other is not.  Working on a financial plan and building a relationship with an adviser together can empower the less involved spouse and help him or her feel comfortable about the future if something happens to the more involved spouse. 

The financial plan process also provides direction on the necessary steps to reaching financial goals, which can help mitigate tension between the spending spouse and the saving spouse.  Once a couple has outlined their goals, we advise how much they need to save (and through what vehicles) in order to get there.  If a couple is meeting their savings targets, then the “saver” can feel free to enjoy spending any extra cash flow.  If the couple is not meeting their savings targets, then the “spender” can see that further restraint is required to meet their goals.  In either case, having an objective third party involved might lessen the tension, since both spouses can feel free to throw their financial advisor under the proverbial bus: “Honey, the plan says that it’s okay/not okay to spend this much in light of the goals that we set together!”

Furthermore, having an adviser manage investments and/or provide guidance on financial decisions can lessen stress when spouses are dealing with other difficult situations that might put a strain on their marriage, such as job loss, physical or mental health issues for themselves or their children, etc. Knowing that their financial life is on the right track allows them to focus their attention elsewhere and hopefully have more time and energy to face whatever challenges and crises may come along.

While single individuals may not experience the same type of tension with a spouse, the primary benefits of having an advisor develop (or update) a financial plan still apply.  It forces them to think through and prioritize their financial goals, and then they are able to enjoy spending any extra cash flow guilt-free when they know that they are saving enough to achieve their goals.  Additionally, working with an adviser may increase their comfort in managing their finances, since we’re happy to explain any financial recommendations in more detail and/or give an overview on any financial topic when clients are interested.  Advisers can also serve as a sounding board for financial decisions when there aren’t other household members to fill that role.

If you think that starting or updating a financial plan would be beneficial for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


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