Money: One BIG Glitch

10941404_sBefore we got married last month, we worked out the main details of our new marriage. We revisited our values, took stock of our net worth, crafted a long-term view of the next ten+ years, and then focused on the specifics of our next Five Year Marriage.

The only think we didn’t do was figure out the money part.

It wasn’t that we hadn’t tried. We talked to our accountant first then saw a financial planner. If fact, we’ve seen a series of financial planners over the past ten years. We even hired one Ameriprise financial planner – but only for a brief period (during which time our IRAs stayed flat and she made money).

Earlier this year we talked to a financial planner, one who came with a referral, lots of credentials and copies of magazine articles in which she was featured. When we met I wanted to be sure she knew we wanted a financial planner not an investment counselor. I explained, “every planner we’ve talked to had “credentials” but, affiliated  or independent, not one of them created an actual financial plan. Instead, they each told us they would take our retirement accounts and invest them for us in stocks. That’s not a financial plan. So, if we’re paying you $1500 to figure out a financial plan, don’t give us an investment or savings plan.” I was neither nice nor mean, but extremely clear. She said she understood and wouldn’t do that with us. She would create an actual plan.

A while later we met with her again. She slide across the table a 500+ page tome.  Based on our goals, each section outlined different strategies with possible outcomes. Oddly enough, every single plan boiled down to nothing more than reconfiguring our IRAs and moving our savings into the stock market, where she would manage our stock portfolio. No real estate, no precious metals, no anything except the stock market.

Joseph and I were ticked off. I was a bit more – infuriated was more like how felt. I’m not sure what part of our meeting she thought didn’t violate my instructions. She did exactly what I asked her NOT to do, and with no valid explanation.  We left her office with $1500 less money and more furious than either of us could express. Not only did she lose all credibility, she lost a customer.

So, we’re back to square one with our finances. You might be in the same position. Whatever you do, don’t give up.

Here are three things I know for sure:

  1. Money is one of the top two reasons why couples break up. What you don’t know can hurt you. What some financial planner wants to do with your money may have more to do with the new car or the new kitchen in his/her future than your future life.
  2. No one is ever going to care about or take as good a care of your money or your future as you will; they won’t have to live your future, you will.
  3. You can only make a financial plan when you know the end game; maybe you don’t know the 50 year end-game but that’s one of the good things about the Five Year Marriage: you only have to know the Five Year end game.

 

So, as you put your Five Year Marriage plan together, figure out where you want to be at the end of five years. Do you want to be able to sell your house, buy a place at the beach, get an RV and travel the country? Maybe over the next five years you’ll be paying off school loans, saving for children’s tuitions or still paying child support or some other obligation from a previous marriage. Maybe the best you’ll be able to do is fund your IRAs or create an emergency or cushion fund. Whatever it is, know where you want to be at the end of five years. Then, WRITE IT DOWN, create a budget that will help you get there and revisit that goal and budget twice a year.

As you are making your Five Year plan, here are a some places you can look for some help:

Suze Orman’s Financial Advice for Couples
Smart Couples Finish Rich
Dave Ramsey’sBudget Forms
Dave Ramsey’s Advice to Newlyweds

NOTE: When you are making your five year plan, be sure to include how you will divide your assets if you decide not to continue your marriage at the end of five years.