How to Find a Financial Advisor for Marriage

Smart couples realize that engaging a financial advisor as soon as they have a “ring and a date” can be one of their best investments in a happy ever after.

A 2013 survey of 191 certified divorce financial analyst professionals noted that 22% of married couples end up in divorce court due to money issues. While the survey found basic incompatibility and infidelity are leading causes of divorce, often money miscues are in the background of these marital headwinds.

Whether you are getting married for the first time or trying again, there are four compelling reasons to hire a financial advisor as a new couple:

— Understand your relationship to money.

— Establish a budget.

— Save for goals.

— Plan for risks.

— Say ‘I do’ to a solid financial future.

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Understand Your Relationship to Money

Every person has a unique belief about money, often influenced by past experience, what their parents or significant adults taught them or mistakes they have already made. Most couples will talk about the kind of life they envision for themselves, but fail to address this baggage they bring into the relationship.

Suddenly, when two people try to combine their money into a joint account, they realize they may have incompatible views about savings, spending on major purchases, debt and even how money is allocated.

One topic that is becoming a bigger part of these conversations is the balance of power income may represent. Historically, men outearned women, and it was not unusual for the woman to be a stay-at-home parent. Today, both men and women may be the major breadwinner in a family unit and either may be the primary child caregiver. Additionally, older marrying couples may find that aging parents are in the mix. Even here, traditional roles have blurred, but expectations may not have been clarified.

Money itself is usually not the reason that people end up divorcing, but rather the arguments around issues involving money. These arguments can bring considerable stress to a relationship, especially when a couple doesn’t have a dispassionate sounding board with a knowledgeable money counselor.

A financial advisor can help each person articulate their personal money needs and wishes while finding a common ground between both parties. By discussing these key issues prior to the wedding, each person can feel assured they have a vital say in their future together.

Establish a Budget

It is not unusual for first-time couples to marry at a time in their life when their incomes are rapidly changing. Each person may have a different level of financial literacy and may bring varying levels of both savings and debt to the relationship. Mature couples may have obligations to children from prior relationships that they need to address.

A financial advisor can provide cash-flow guidance as to the safe amount the couple can spend on their housing, utilities, pleasure activities and planned major purchases. They can also help create a debt-reduction plan to pay down credit cards and other loans so that funds can go toward the future together.

The overarching question for most couples is whether to combine their finances. Couples may choose to combine all or part of their budgets, and the advisor can help them understand the pros and cons of each scenario. Additionally, an astute advisor can introduce other key members of a team, such as a certified public accountant, to help them understand the impact marriage will have on their taxes.

Save for Goals

The first major purchase for a newly engaged couple is often the wedding itself. According to The Knot, the average wedding in 2021 ran $34,000, including the ring. An entire wedding loan industry has arisen, where couples can borrow the majority of the expenses with three- to five-year repayment periods, but often at substantially higher interest rates, even with exceptional credit scores. While this can give couples seeking Instagram-worthy weddings the cash to do so, this path can easily set them back in all their long-term goals, such as buying a home, having children and even starting a business.

A financial advisor can be a sounding board to discuss the pros and cons of taking on substantial debt early in the marriage. They can also model different approaches to achieve priority goals and show how different trade-offs may enable the couple to have the wedding of their dreams without breaking their budget.

Plan for Risks

When a couple engages a financial planner for the first time, the advisor will ask a series of questions to evaluate the couple’s risk profiles, both individually and as a pair. This will help the advisor create investment portfolios that match the couple’s risk tolerance. This is especially important since couples do not always mirror each other.

Another source of stress is when one partner invests in a manner that makes their spouse uncomfortable. The advisor can provide guidance to offset different risks or suggest more mutually agreeable alternatives.

Additionally, through the advisor’s network of fellow advisors, they can ensure that the couple has met their life and disability insurance needs; maximized their employer’s benefits; established wills, trusts and guardianships for minor children; and covered the potential for economic downturns, layoffs and other untoward surprises with an emergency fund. Through these key discussions, a couple may determine that a prenuptial agreement is an important addition to their planning — irrespective of whether this is a first or subsequent marriage — and the advisor can introduce them to an appropriate attorney to establish these documents.

Say ‘I Do’ to a Solid Financial Future

A wedding is a happy event, and one that can truly last a lifetime with the right partner. Sound financial planning can help all couples get started with confidence and can often stop arguments before they even start. Most importantly, a strong financial plan that is regularly updated to meet changing goals can truly bind two together in marriage in an impactful way.

Feeling safe and protected in difficult times can be especially comforting to a couple and give them the mental space to keep moving forward as a team. For “two to become one,” they need to build trust. Working with a financial advisor helps a couple learn to communicate with each other on their most important topics. Being vulnerable to ask for professional, expert knowledge also adds a layer of mutual respect that can carry them through the rocky parts of the path that will come in any relationship.

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How to Find a Financial Advisor for Marriage originally appeared on usnews.com

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