In my years of being a financial advisor, it never ceases to amaze me that in each couple there are such different priorities, ideas and responsibilities.  The old adage “opposites attract” might also be true when it comes to finances. One spouse is the spender and one is the saver.  One is aggressive and one is conservative (both of which can be to a fault if you aren’t careful).  To that end, it seems that most couples have similar “major” goals when it comes to finances including retirement, education funding for kids, and savings.  The methods by which they meet these goals can vary drastically.  No matter the differences in ideas, there are always some consistent themes which typically include the desire to be financially independent at a certain age and have the ability to do what they want when they want.  The “what” in that statement might vary between spouses, but both have some kind of goal for the future.  Hence the importance of a solid plan to build upon over time.  I believe many advisors focus too much on the numbers and rates of return to miss the most important details on emotions and priorities for money. The truth is at the core some of us do not want the money, we want what the money will allow us to accomplish. I tell clients all the time that it doesn’t matter whether you want to retire to a small farm in the middle of nowhere or travel the world every month (or both) in retirement. All of these goals require a plan.  The idea of going through a financial plan seems daunting.  There are so many areas to discuss, data to gather, and accounts to open. But without a solid plan very little of your goals have the likelihood of coming true.  If you aim at nothing, you will probably get nothing.

Another area of importance I see consistently is one spouse being the overseer of finances.  They know every detail of every account and where the $3.50 was spent yesterday on their debit card.  The other spouse typically would not know if there was $100 or $100,000 in the checking account.  This type of arrangement can be healthy for the most part assuming the “payer” of the bills is around forever.  I try to encourage my clients to allow the spouse that isn’t interested in the finances to at least watch the process of paying bills and logging into accounts just in case the spouse that pays the bills isn’t around one day.  I have found in most clients, and even my own personal life, that one spouse might not even know the login information for their bank account.  This can cause serious issues if one spouse were not there one day.  The fact that one spouse pays the bills is actually a good strategy most of the time.

Most of financial planning is all about moderation.  I am highly skeptical when someone offers a client the “ONE” thing that will satisfy all their financial planning and needs.  No matter if you have $100 or $1 million+, the best answer is typically to diversify your holdings.  This type of diversification is not only in investment sectors but in access to the money, taxes, and purpose of the funds.  You very rarely want to put all your eggs in one basket.  I believe in being truly diversified by setting up retirement assets, non-retirement assets, cash, real estate, non-correlated assets, etc.  The funding of these can vary throughout your life but you always want to have some combination of all in most plans.  Most financial advisors get lumped into the category of “investment and insurance’ advisors but there are so many more areas of true planning.  These include estate planning, tax management, budgeting, debt management, etc.  A true plan will be customized to your specific needs, goals and priorities.  At Continuum Planning Partners, we strive to create customized, specific plans for our clients not just for the present but monitored for the future as well.

Brad Burcham is a registered representative of and offers Securities, Investment Advisory and Financial Planning Services through MML Investors Services, LLC, Member SIPC, 12 Cadillac Drive, Suite 440, Brentwood, TN 37027 (615) 309-6300. Continuum Planning Partners is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC, or its affiliated companies. CRN201803-200171

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Brad Burcham, Financial Planner

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