"The Boomer” is a column written for adults nearing retirement age and those already in their “golden years.” It will also promote reader interaction by posting e-mail responses and answering reader questions. E-mail your questions or topic ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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My wife and I will celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary at the end of this week. We’ve been through a lot together, and our marriage has grown stronger over the nearly four decades of being together--through good times and bad.
It’s not always easy—a marriage isn’t always full of the joy and smiles that dominate the wedding day. There will be hardships that test limits and hectic schedules that takeaway time from each other.
Studies show that for most couples, finances are the root cause of marital problems. As wedding season continues to heat up, many young couples might be turning to the boomers in their lives to learn their secrets to a healthy marriage. So instead of boomers getting the crystal bowl on a couple’s registry, or simply writing a check to help decorate a new home, a more helpful gift might be one of financial guidance.
Certified financial planner Kimberly Foss, and founder of Empyrion Wealth Management, suggests boomers gift sessions with a certified financial planner to help new couples sort through their finances, merge accounts if necessary and set up budgets and long-term savings plans.
"So many young people don't have good financial habits before they get married, let alone developing one after marriage. The use of credit cards, no inadequate saving or emergency fund, and attitudes about handling money are listed among the greatest obstacles to overcome in the newly creates marital union," says Foss. "In fact, money causes more arguments between couples than any other family problem and is a major cause of divorce today."
For boomers being approached by couples getting ready to walk down the aisle, here are some pointers that will help them get started on the right financial note.
No.1: Money can be a major cause of conflicts, learn how to talk about it.
Talking about money can be uncomfortable for some couples, but they should schedule regular meetings to discuss the budget and identify potential big-ticket items that might be coming along—this way there are no surprises. Foss adds that giving couples the chance to talk finances with an expert can preempt any problems.
“For young couples sometimes financial differences can becomes financial distress…and can even lead to breakup if left unchecked,” she says. “Just because your money beliefs don't fit immediately, doesn't mean you can't both work on it together, find some middle ground and move forward to your happily ever after.”
No.2 Be willing to comprise.
The wife likes the bedroom hot, he likes it cold. Compromise is a big part of marriage, especially when it comes to managing the finances. Foss advises couples have frank conversations about money and how the budget should be spent. It’s also important to discuss and identify what each individual is willing to give up for the greater good.
No.3 Get on the same note.
Couples should ask the other about their financial expectations, lifelong goals and career dreams to start planning and saving accordingly.
“Ask each other ‘what are your top 10 goals to accomplish over the next three, five, 10, 20, 40 years? Compare both of your top 10 lists and prioritize what is important collectively,” advises Foss.
Gifting a Planner
Foss advises boomers looking to gift a financial planner do their homework and find an expert close to the couple. "Finding the perfect match is critical to their success, and your advisor may not have the same expertise for the needs of a young couple. It is recommended to have a few options of "advisors" for the young couple to interview for the right fit. Go to www.cfp.net or www.fpanet.org for a list of qualified advisors in your area."