February has almost passed and it has been eventful to say the least. We have learned that Punxsutawney Phil wasn’t joking when he said six more weeks of winter, that the Super Bowl underdog looked like a heavy favorite, and that the Skeleton still looks like a horribly dangerous Winter Olympic sport!
But February remains a month most noted for Valentine’s Day. There are countless ways to say, “I Love You” and some of them involve money and gifts. But the topic of money is probably not one of the sweet nothings that lovers whisper into each other’s ears on Valentine’s Day.
From my perspective, as a CFP® professional, money is often the cause of friction in relationships. I talk daily with my clients about their goals and aspirations and how to best save their money. I also discuss what they hope to avoid. Sure enough, many couples have different ideas on how to get to where they want to go, and fear different obstacles along the way.
So as you reflect on your Valentine’s Day of 2014, perhaps you can take the time to rethink the role of money and love, and consider how the two can be partners, rather than cause friction. Here are five financial ways to say, “I love you”:
• Make another date, but promise each other to focus your talk on money. I see a lot of truth to the science of “opposites attract”. It’s common to see a saver and a spender together, or a money vigilante with a money avoider. I know that many people find watching paint dry infinitely more fascinating than personal finance. But if that’s you, suppress the fear of boredom and let your special someone fill you in on what’s going on financially with the two of you. Time and capital are horrible things to waste.
• Understand that separate accounts can mean different things to different people. I’ve personally found that my wife likes to have some money of her own as an expression of independence and autonomy. Others may see separate accounts as a sign of secrecy and distrust. It’s important to get these different perceptions out on the table rather than avoiding the discussion altogether or keeping separate accounts a secret.
• It’s important to protect what’s important to you. Talk about what you would want to see happen in the event something happens to you. It doesn’t matter your age, discuss protecting each other and your family. This means getting adequate life, disability, medical, and long-term care insurance. It also means making special estate plans to ensure you are not setting up a situation where your spouse and your children will be at odds in the settlement of your estate. Thinking ahead and planning for these contingencies is a powerful way to show that you care.
• It’s common for one person in a relationship to “handle the finances.” If this is you, take the time to create a “what you need to know list” that your significant other can have in case of an emergency. I liken this to leaving the baby-sitter a list of instructions/contact numbers when you are able to sneak away from the kids for an evening. Keep that mindset and compile a list of all of your important accounts, numbers and passwords and find a safe place to keep it.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask a CFP® professional to help facilitate the conversation. Allow him or her to objectivity hear about your goals and concerns so that they can help suggest what is best for you as a couple. It’s amazing what an impartial third party can do to clarify your issues, set common goals that you can pursue together, and find solutions that can work for you both.
Here’s hoping that you had a very Happy Valentine’s Day. This year, don’t stop with the usual candy and flowers. Put your money where your heart is and go down my list together. It can be one of the best ways to say, “I love you.” And if getting some objective advice with your finances will show your love, feel free to give me a call and I’ll do my best to help bring you and all your finances together.
Benjamin N. Haas, CFP®, CRPC®, US Wealth Management. 158 West Main Street, Kutztown. Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.