According to a Harris Interactive poll, about 36 percent of all couples aged 55–64 argue about money. That’s the highest percentage in any age group and significant because people in that age bracket are either retired early or thinking about the day that they may stop working.
Most life and financial transitions are difficult and stress producing, but nothing is a stronger prediction of divorce than financial disagreements, according to university researchers. If you are one of the couples involved in heated money conversations, try some of these ideas to reduce or eliminate the tension.
First, discover the source of the tension.
Is it about differences in spending habits, how much financial help to give to children or aging parents, investment styles, or is it simply about uncertainty? Uncertainty over whether you can afford to retire, spend as much as you’d like to or travel as much as you had hoped are frequent subliminal stress causes.
Get it all on the table and let the numbers do the talking. You may find that your partner’s desire to spend like every day is Saturday is OK because your savings and retirement income is adequate to get you to the finish line. On the other hand, a good forecast of future earning and spending may reveal that you need to work longer, spend less or plan on leaving nothing to your children.
No conclusion is bad and few are irreversible. You simply need to know and then develop the proper course of corrective action.
Families frequently split the financial duties of the household such as paying bills, investing and dealing with the financial professionals. This frequently leaves at least one spouse in the dark with respect to some critical elements of the family’s personal financial picture.
There are two ways to get your spouse out of the dark, anxious place of not knowing. First is to hire a professional to lay everything out for you. The other is the do-it-yourself method, switching roles for at least a brief period. If you’ve never reviewed the investment statements or paid the bills for the household, doing either for at least a brief period may shed some light on the source of your consternation.
Blended families with children from previous marriages may complicate these money battles. Support for a child, now or upon the passing of either spouse can be a topic that is often avoided. Nothing may be worse than a surprise in the estate to either the children or the new spouse.
What would be worse: disinheriting your children because your simple will leaves everything to your new spouse, or disinheriting your new spouse because your old will sends everything to your adult child?
Good planning now can eliminate past, present and future battles about money whether you are dead or alive.
John P. Napolitano CFP, CPA is CEO of U. S. Wealth Management in Braintree, Mass. Visit JohnPNapolitano on LinkedIn or uswealthnapolitano.com. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. John Napolitano is a registered principal with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through US Financial Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. US Financial Advisors and US Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial. He can be reached at 781-849-9200.