It's Never too Late to Make a Change
for the Better
Updated: May 24, 2021
Allen and Lisa came to grips with the spending—and have never been happier
Many couples, no matter how close, are not on the same page when it comes to money.
Couples that lack open communication about spending, saving and post-working goals can have a very difficult time maintaining a successful relationship.
The challenge: help a couple determine what was missing from their plan, what needed to be eliminated, and what needed to be rearranged.
Over time, a couple learned how short-term sacrifices could pay off big time in the long-run—both financially and emotionally.
Allen and Lisa always had boundless love for one another. But when it came to talking about their finances, the silence was deafening. They were on completely different pages when they first came to see us. Lisa had no idea how much they were spending each month—or what they were purchasing. Allen was very generous and well-intentioned. Unfortunately, his prolific spending brought them to a point where they wouldn’t have had enough money to pay their taxes, had the not received bonuses from their jobs.
Financial roulette is not a game you ever want to play, especially when you’re in your peak earning years before retirement.
Lisa was 60 and Allen was 65 when the couple first came to us. They desperately wanted to stop working and devote their time to their family and hobbies. Unfortunately, their financial situation did not make retirement an immediate possibility and they had no context about the lifestyle they could hope to afford in retirement.
When we first met Allen and Lisa, the financial strain they were under was taking its toll on their relationship. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common occurrence. That’s why we’re committed to being a personal life coach for our clients, not just a financial advisor.
We help our clients open up about their relationships with money and the future they wish to have. Helping them identify obstacles that might be impeding their progress toward those goals is the first step in our wealth management process.
As we got to know Allen and Lisa, it became clear that they were better aligned than they thought they were about their financial objectives. Our task to help them figure out what was missing from their plan, what needed to be eliminated, and what needed to be rearranged.
Allen and Lisa were fortunate that they both had high earning capacity from their careers. The challenge was to address the poor investment decisions they had made and to create a narrative that would help them change their spending habits--individually and together.
At its heart, financial planning is about understanding the tradeoffs related to your decisions. In Allen and Lisa’s case, it was about making some uncomfortable changes to their spending habits in order to be financially comfortable in retirement. They didn’t have much choice.
We presented the couple with several scenarios showing how they managed their finances today would impact them in retirement. We made several recommendations about changing their spending habits and showed them how much happier and confident they could be if they stuck to those changes.
Next, we shifted our focus to investments. The couple’s assets were scattered, and though diversification is paramount to a well-structured portfolio, you don’t want a random, disorganized array of assets. It needs to be cohesive and aligned with your goals.
So, we helped Allen and Lisa understand the benefits of a structured, globally diversified portfolio and we provided them with a personalized strategy for managing their investments. We also demonstrated the benefits of working with a fiduciary to create an investment plan based on their personal financial goals. It didn’t take long for Allen and Lisa to start feeling more confident about their financial situation.
For Allen and Lisa, the key to making their plan work was establishing goals, making a realistic plan around those goals, and sticking to the plan. Without the couple’s willingness to get their spending under control, the plan would not have worked. Further, they would never have been able to reinvent their relationship with each other--and with money.
The couple set a target retirement date for ten years in the future. However, their commitment to reining in their spending, combined with several positive surprises in their careers, enabled them to retire only six years after we put their plan in motion.
Now that Allen and Lisa have transitioned from the accumulation/savings phase of their lives to the distribution phase, our discussions revolve around what they can afford to spend each year and where that money will come from.
If you and your partner don’t feel like you’re on the same page financially, you’re not alone. Many people just don’t like talking about money. Just know that being open with each other about your history with money and your relationship with money is a great place to start.
The only way to gain the confidence to reach your goals is to start an honest discussion with each other about what can get you there and what might be standing in your way.
We take great pride in helping clients have these conversations and even greater pride in charting the course for them to meet their goals.
If you or someone close to you has concerns about their retirement readiness relationship with money, please don’t hesitate to reach out.