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Talking to your spouse about money can be extremely difficult for a lot of couples. We all grow up with different financial habits – good and bad – which we bring into a marriage. This can be a source of stress and discord between spouses, particularly if one person is a “frugal saver” and the other person is a “carefree spender”. Getting agreement over how to spend your monthly budget can be challenging enough, so how do you agree on a long-term financial plan together?
As financial planners, our team at Cedar House works with a lot of married couples to help them work together towards a shared set of goals. Below, we share some of our insights from these experiences. We hope you find this content useful. If you’d like to find out more or discuss your own financial plan with us, please contact our team for more information or to access personalised financial advice:
020 8366 4400 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Get your values out in the open
There is an old saying: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. In short, how we use and approach money says a lot about what we value most in life. You and your spouse will likely share at least some values (it is very hard to sustain a marriage without this). Yet you are both still individuals with your own hopes, dreams and aspirations within that union. Assuming you can both communicate in a healthy way and want to work together, consider finding time to sit and unpack those values together.
How does your spouse see money? Do they see it as a means of helping to secure an uncertain future (e.g. by saving lots), or as a means to enjoy the here-and-now (e.g. by spending lots on luxuries)? Do both of you think money is important, and if so – why? Understanding one another’s attitudes to money can help you appreciate the other person’s needs and uncover unhealthy viewpoints/habits which need addressing, rather than just making demonising assumptions about one another (which leads to conflict).
Talk about your ideal future
Where do you both see yourselves in 5, 10 or 20 years’ time? What does retirement look like for the two of you? Perhaps you both have similar visions – or completely different ideas. Assuming you both wish to share a long-term future, it is important to understand each other’s hopes and dreams so you can work towards them together. Whatever your goals, you will need a plan to help get you there. You are unlikely to simply drift towards achieving them without any effort. Two key questions to ask about your goals are: “How much do we need to afford them?” and “are we on track to achieve this?” For instance, if you both want to retire at 55 and travel the world together (post COVID-19!), then how much will you both need to save to make that vision a reality? Is your current saving and investment strategy putting you on course to achieve it?
Get a third, expert opinion
One of the most valuable things a financial adviser/planner can offer couples is an objective, expert opinion on your financial affairs, plans and dreams. Just as a marriage counsellor can offer impartial observations about relationship issues and pose targeted questions to help you work out problems together, a financial planner can survey your income and wealth to pose a set of queries and suggestions which help you find practical, long-term financial solutions.
Sometimes, it takes a third person to break an impasse faced by two married people who are otherwise entrenched in their views. Suppose that one of you is convinced that you are saving enough for retirement, and the other person is not. Unless you are both financial experts, this is likely to be a protracted and difficult disagreement to resolve. A financial planner, however, can look over your current financial position and trajectory towards your retirement goal – including pension savings and contributions. He/she can then make practical recommendations to help you both see a clearer picture of the pension landscape, and charge a better course through it.
Of course, a financial planner cannot resolve deep-seated relationship issues in a marriage. If you or your spouse is determined not to budget or to craft a financial plan, there is not much a financial planner can do to dislodge this. However, he or she can be a great source of insight, wisdom and advice on important financial questions that require a lot of technical knowledge and industry-specific information. If you are thinking about retiring abroad one day, for instance, a financial planner can help you work through the tax and pension planning issues that need to be addressed to achieve this. If you wish to retire early at age 55 – mortgage-free – then a financial planner can help you determine whether this goal is a realistic one and, if so, outline a plan to move you towards accomplishing it.
Interested in discussing your financial plan with an experienced financial adviser? Get in touch today to discuss your financial plan with a member of our team here at Cedar House via a free, no-commitment consultation:
020 8366 4400 or email@example.com