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The Therapist’s on Call: Thoughtful Financial Planning for Couples
• Taylor Kovar • February 14, 2023
Financial planning for couples can get messy. What I’ve learned over more than a decade in the industry is that getting partners on the same page when it comes to money is sometimes easier said than done. That’s why in my financial planning practice, I leverage the skills of a marriage and family therapist. This unconventional approach has been a game changer.
Dealing with Different Money Personalities
It was one couple in particular that led me down this path. The husband had a very successful business. The wife was a stay-at-home parent and wasn’t involved in the day-to-day business decisions.
In addition to their differing responsibilities, they also had differing money personalities (there are actually five of them!), with the husband being a spender/risk taker and the wife a saver/security seeker. In particular, the husband wanted to take on more risk to build wealth and meet their financial goals.
One day, we were having a client review meeting in the office and it became clear that the wife was experiencing anxiety about money. We’re having this conversation, and suddenly we have tears going around the room.
Now, I’ve read a bunch of books and I’ve been to many seminars, but I’m not a licensed therapist. Thankfully, I was able to get the couple to have a productive talk about their financial plan and help them find peace of mind. However, that day was a wake-up call about handling couples’ communication issues. I was fortunate to already know a marriage and family therapist here in Lufkin, Texas, where the Kovar Wealth Management home base is. He became an essential resource, and the rest is history.
A Referral for Marriage Maintenance
If you’re thinking you’d like to try incorporating a couples therapist into your client review meetings, the CFP Board has some great resources that can guide your approach to vetting service providers. The basic gist is to let your own personal experience working with a therapist and your research on their credentials guide you.
Databases at Psychology Today and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy are two places to start in finding one. It’s a lot of legwork, but in my experience, it has the potential to impact your clients’ lives in a significant way.
One of our standing annual recommendations is that every couple talks to a marriage therapist. We view it as maintenance. There’s nothing wrong with my car when I get my oil changed, but I get it changed so nothing goes wrong.
When you have a trusted provider to send your clients to, it makes that recommendation easier to carry out. We make it a point to help clients stay focused on the things in their lives that make them truly wealthy.
3 Tips from The Money Couple
Out of this emphasis on learning about behavioral finance and financial psychology, a new, separate business came to life. In 2020, my wife Megan and I became The Money Couple, offering couples financial workshops, a money and marriage podcast, assessments, and card decks that help uncover deeply held values and build better spending habits.
The Money Couple business complements my financial planning practice and helps us live up to our mission to focus on “return on life.” Basically, if you’re miserable and your relationships are broken but you have a lot of money, that’s not success. Our work tackles important issues such as financial infidelity, raising financially literate children, and being intentional about the legacy you are creating through your choices.
As we celebrate romance and love this month, we’re sharing the following three tips for couples to help them find peace in their relationship. Hopefully, these can help you guide individuals with their own unique money values to unite behind a shared vision for their financial future.
1. Schedule Regular Date Nights
Follow the money, and you’ll discover what you value. If you’re not investing in your marriage by dedicating some time and resources to allow you to grow together, things can fall apart. My wife and I have young kids at home, but we still try to have a date night every week so we’re practicing what we preach.
2. Don’t Let Comparison Be the Thief of Joy
It’s easy to look at what other people are doing or buying and to let it steal your joy. If you’re feeling “less than,” stop focusing on everyone’s social media highlight reel and go after your own dreams. We all need to take a break from social media from time to time.
3. Keep Those Lines of Communication Open
I played shortstop on a baseball team growing up, and if that taught me anything it’s that communication is the key to winning. As the advisor, having a planning platform that shows a couple’s complete financial picture goes a long way in starting conversations that clarify goals and shine a spotlight on values.
As financial planners, we play a vital role in the lives of our clients so I encourage you to find other ways that you can bring value to them. For us, that is helping them keep the bigger picture in mind. Financial returns are great, but an unhappy home can wreck a financial plan faster than any recession!
If you want to implement the 5 Money Personalities assessment in your practice or are interested in other tools you can offer your clients, feel free to reach out to me.
DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.
The views and opinions expressed by this blog post guest are solely those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of eMoney Advisor, LLC. eMoney Advisor is not responsible for the content, views or opinions presented by our guest, nor may eMoney Advisor be held liable for any actions taken by you based on the content, views or opinions of the guest.
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