Financial intimacy changes as we age and I want to do it with dignity and grace! In our early years, Mark and I became financially intimate through sharing our financial history. We combined (over time) some of our financial accounts. We had to discuss blended family financial issues and put spending plans together. We fought over money and we worked our way through disagreements. We made time to review our financial situation and decide how to handle tough stuff that came our way. We can unwittingly settle into the status quo unless you intentionally cultivate financial intimacy in your fall season of life.
4 ways to increase financial intimacy as you age:
1. Build on the “wins” of your earlier years. Share stories and lessons learned throughout your time together. We can learn so much from the tough seasons of life if you choose to be a victor instead of a victim. Look at your financial assets and be grateful for what you have built over time. You still have a future – plan for it! As you look at the life lessons and accomplishments of your summer season of life, build on them as you look at the opportunities that lie ahead.
2. Share your hopes as well as fears around this season and discuss the financial implications.Start with talking about what you each envision your days looking like. When you create a vision, you will be more intentional about putting the financial pieces in place to bring it to fruition. Your hopes may include philanthropic pursuits, volunteer opportunities, travel, or time with family. You may each have different bucket lists, but find the shared core values that have served you well up to this point.
Sharing the fears can be more challenging. My husband recently had knee surgery. After a particular full day of client meetings, many of which involved emotional elements of financial decision making, I came home to a husband in the doldrum of recovery. It hit me – I assist, advise and advocate for a lot of people! Who is going to take care of me? I felt a wave of fear wash over me. Later in the week, when Mark and I had some time, I shared my thoughts and feelings around this “fear”. We unpacked that fear and faith cannot coexist. We discussed the faith we have in someone greater than ourselves. We discussed the faith in the character assets cultivated over our lives. We unpacked the faith we had in the financial tools we have put in place and the wisdom we will tap into to use them prudently. I brought my fear into the light, talked about it and felt much closer to Mark afterward. Your fears may include how to create a new identity as you transition away from a career or leave the social networks of your work world. We had many discussions around that as Mark looked into “rewiring”. Find a time to sit down, pour a glass of wine, or open a pint of ice cream and talk.
3. Review titling of accounts and beneficiary designations. Time has passed, and life situations change. We may not know the remaining number of days, but they are waning. Pull out your paperwork and review how you want your assets titled. Do you live in a common-law or community property state? Have you relocated or do you want to? In community property states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) everything you have acquired during a marriage is deemed legally owned by both partners.
All other states are common-law which means that assets and debt acquired during marriage are yours alone – unless you have them titled jointly. You also want to review your beneficiary designations on contractual documents such as life insurance policies, annuities, IRA’s and retirement plans. Mark and I now have four adult children, some with spouses. We also became grandparents last fall. With beneficiary designations, you probably want your primary beneficiary to be your spouse. But what about contingent beneficiaries? Do you want to designate children per stirpes or per capita? These are the discussions that may be hard to start, and should involve your professional advisors. Intimacy grows as you push through the process and build your confidence and competence of shared values and vision.
4. Share your passwords. Talk about trust! From Social Media passwords to log in information for retirement accounts and banking information, this is another way to watch out for each other as you embrace this encore season of life. Make sure you know where to find each other’s important documents. Put contractual items (life insurance, annuity, real estate contracts) in a fire safe box along with updated lists of passwords and on-line account information and location.
Creatively, inquisitively and non-judgmentally explore this season of life that is unfolding! If you need a financial advocate, find one. As you examine what it means to become or remain financially intimate, your relationships will bloom. Your conversations will be richer (or at least less stressful), you will enjoy and understand your financial decisions as a reflection of your values, and you will have additional peace of mind that someone is watching out for you. Financial intimacy will probably play out in other areas of your life too! I will leave that up to your imagination.
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