Screw Love. Are you financially compatible in your relationship? Important Money Topics to Discuss Before Marriage

Screw Love. Are you financially compatible in your relationship? Important Money Topics to Discuss Before Marriage

If you’re planning to jump the broom, it goes without saying that you love each other.

 

Well… unless it’s an indecent proposal or you guys have an arrangement.

“No judgment from me – Do you!”

 

As a lover of romance and any solid Rom-Com, I am not discounting the importance of love in relationships and marriage.

 

Hot, steamy, undying, can’t-nobody-tell-me-nothing love, can be fun, exhilarating and just downright sexy.

 

However, love itself won’t solve or prevent all problems, particularly when it comes to money and relationships.

 

Let’s keep it real, fighting about money sucks.

Before you go deeper as a couple , grab this FREE guide to help your money make more sense and stay on track to reach your financial goals.

 

Sometimes your plans, expectations, and behaviors with money are misaligned with your partner’s plans, expectations and behaviors.

 

Hence, the shouting matches over finances.

 

If you are already married or damn-near-married, there are ways to stop fighting over money.

 

Occasionally, those fights are necessary because your approach and habits are SO different from your partners.

 

Sometimes, the relationship can’t be salvaged because of those differences.

 

Even I have a few relationship deal killers of my own:

–        Stealing money from my purse or bank account

–        Getting credit in my name for use without my permission

–        Not paying any bills

 

All those offenses require little conversation, just the packing of his damn clothes and stepping to the left…to the left.

 

What are some of your hard line, “I ain’t playing with you” financial boundaries?

 

Maybe you already know the answers to some fundamental, but important questions like:

 

-Is your bae/boo/ future spouse a spender or saver?

 

-Does your partner have deep-rooted issues with money?

 

-Can you trust your significant other to handle all YOUR money, if needed?

 

-Are they controlling when it comes to money and how you spend it or do they plan to hand their paycheck over to you?

 

Hopefully, this post helps you go a bit deeper into you and your partner’s financial life or even consider what your hard “clothes packing” financial boundaries are.

 

The questions/topics below are designed to prompt you to have deeper, more thorough conversations with your partner about money and the role it will play in your relationship.

 

It’ll definitely serve its purpose if it saves you and your partner from future money fights!

 

The topics below can help you discover how aligned your financial philosophies are.

 

So, what do you need to do next?

 

Review the categories and determine what questions you’ve already covered in your relationship.

 

You will also be able to determine what categories you want to delve into with your mate.

 

I know, I know…you may not want to bring some of these things up.

 

Believe me, I understand that money conversations can be emotional and uncomfortable.

 

But let’s be honest, break-ups over money are worse – much more emotional and frustrating.

 

Ignorance is not bliss.

 

Sometimes it’s simply expensive.

 

Love and logic don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

 

Think about the role money has played in your past relationships or even the relationships of people you know. (We both know some ugly stories about people and their money fights)

 

It’s important to note that you are NOT recreating the Spanish Inquisition. The goal is not to prove who’s right or wrong. The goal is not to be hard-nosed and inflexible.

 

You should be using the topics below as a brainstorming tool to first, help you recognize if you are aware of your own position on these topics and second, determine if you and your partner are well aligned when it comes to money in a marriage.

 

There will be/should be areas where you are willing to compromise. However, it’s absolutely okay if & when you have areas that you don’t see eye-to-eye that you are less willing or unwilling to compromise on.

 

It is safe to have financial boundaries.

 

Real talk moment again – You may already be seeing red flags which is not uncommon in relationships, but what do they REALLY mean?  How much will they impact you in the future?  Are they deal killers that you are just trying to ignore?

 

Are you afraid to discuss certain topics because the hard truth may be that you just are not financially compatible and want to delay the impending breakup?  (See my ignorance comment above).

 

How many of your past breakups should have happened before they actually did?

 

We’ve already settled that you love each other. Now, are you willing to do the work to determine if you and your partner are financially compatible before you make a lifelong loving commitment?

 

Friendly reminder: Make note of the areas where you are unsure of your own position and take the time to consider it before your conversation or be upfront with your partner that you’re still trying to figure it out.

 

Money Management

Separate or Joint finances

    • You have various options to consider but the primary options are typically:
      • 1 primary joint checking account where both paychecks are deposited.
      • 1 primary joint checking or savings account where a set amount is transferred from each of you.
      • Joint everything.
      • Separate everything.
    • Ask your partner which option they prefer and what their experiences have been with the different options listed above.

Established emergency fund

    • How much money is important to have saved based on expenses, income, and level of job security. Here are a few areas to cover:
      • When was the last time you & your partner were unemployed and for how long?
      • When was your partner’s last promotion?
      • If your partner has been in the same role for a number of years, there are a number of things to consider:
        • (1) If they have maintained certifications or continuing education credits to keep their skills up-to-date.
        • (2) If they are at the top of their payscale
        • (3) The marketability of their skillset outside of their current employer (4) If below average performance is an issue in their current role (thus threatening their job stability)
      • How much are their monthly expenses?
      • How easy is it for others to get a job in their field?
      • How many sources of income do they have?
      • How much access to credit or other income sources do they have?

Bankruptcy

    • What are their general sentiments around bankruptcy?
      • Has it ever been filed? How many times? How long before it’s cleared?
    • What kind of bankruptcy did they file in the past? (Chapter 7 or 13)
    • Would they want to file bankruptcy again, if needed?

Credit/Debt Health

    • What is your partner’s Credit Score?
    • How many credit cards do they have? Do they available credit on the cards?
    • Do other people have access to their credit lines?
    • Are they a joint signer or co-borrower for someone else’s debt?
    • How does your partner feel about debt? (“striving to be debt free” versus “everyone dies with debt”)
    • Do they have collections or past due student loans?
    • Have they ever had a foreclosure or short sale and the circumstances around it?

Taxes

    • When was their most recent year of tax filing?
    •  Would they prefer to file Joint or Separate returns?
    • Do they understand how child support or back taxes can impact tax filings as a married couple?
    • Would they be offended if you filed for injured spouse relief? (injured spouse relief may allow you to obtain a tax refund (or a portion of the refund) when you partner’s tax liabilities would otherwise offset the refund)
    • Do they typically owe or receive refunds?
    • How much in do they owe in back taxes?

 

Living Arrangements

Cohabitation

    • How do you and your partner feel about living together before marriage?
    • Is your partner willing to move into your place or are there expectations to get a “new place” together?
    • Who should handle the management of bills and how will housework be divided?
    • How do they see expenses being divided (who pays what?) Do they believe in traditional domestic gender roles or are they open to anything?
    • Are they open to the idea of hiring help? (lawn service, housekeeper or cleaner, handyman, etc)
    • Would they be willing to sign a cohabitation agreement?
    • Who should pay for the furniture and moving expenses?

Renting versus Own

    • How does your partner feel about owning property?
    • How many properties has your partner owned in the past?
    • How many properties does your partner currently own?
    • Is your partner comfortable with only one name being on the lease?
    • Has your partner had past evictions?
    • Would they prefer a longer or shorter mortgage (15 years versus 20 or 30 years)?
    • Have they ever had a foreclosure or short sale and the circumstances around it (yes, it’s a repeat from above because it’s important)

Family Support

    • Is your partner supportive or opposed to parents or other family members moving in?
    • Is your partner supportive or opposed to financially supporting parents or other family members?
    • How much is a reasonable amount of family support?

Children

Child Support

    • How much is being paid in child support per month?
    • Is your partner current or in arrears with child support?
    • Are child support payments court ordered or an informal arrangement?
    • When was the last time your child support amount was reviewed?
    • Will your custody and/or support agreement be affected if we move in together?
    • Are they willing to opt out of receiving child support after you marry? (not recommending this, btw, but you/they might want to know)

Financial Support for Adult Children

    • What age is too old for an adult child to live at home?
    • How much is financial support reasonable to provide to an adult child?
    • Should adult children pay bills while living at home?
    • What is a reasonable amount of money for an adult child to contribute?

Allowance

    • What’s a good age to provide allowance?
    • What items should a child be made to pay for with their own money, if any?
    • How much is a reasonable amount of allowance to provide to a pre-teen versus a teenager?

 

Children’s Education

    • Do they have a college fund or savings establish for your kids (or plans to establish one in the future)
    • How does your partner feel about paying tuition for elementary or secondary school?
    • How does your partner feel about paying for college?
    • Do they want their kids to take out student loans?
    • Have they already co-signed for student loans?
    • Would your partner prefer they stay on campus or live at home during college?
    • Would they rather the child go to an in-state or out-of-state college?
    • Are they aware of the difference in cost for (Instate versus Out-of-state)?
    • Are they open to take out parent loans for their college tuition?
    • Do they expect you to help fund tuition of children born prior to your relationship?

Protection

  • Do they believe in prenups, postnups, or cohabitation agreements?
  • Do they have or support paying for the following insurance:
    • Life Insurance
    • Health Insurance
    • Auto Insurance
    • Property Insurance
    • Renters Insurance
    • Disability Insurance
    • Long-term care insurance
    • Critical Illness Insurance

Travel

  • Does your partner enjoy traveling?
  • Do they prefer 1 or 2 big trips or a handful of small trips annually?
  • What should the financial split be (50/50, alternating, depends on who picks, etc)
  • Do they prefer to travel in small groups or larger groups?
  • What’s the most amount of money they have ever spent on a trip?

Career Planning

  • How long do they plan to be in their current position or with their current company?
  • What are their career aspirations?
  • When was the last time a promotion was awarded?
    • This question can lead to other questions such as:
    • Is the role at risk of elimination or lay off?
    • Have they peaked in their career?
    • Is this the last role before retirement?
    • Or is there minimal career progression with their current employer or role?
  • Are they at the bottom, mid-point or top of the pay scale for their current role?
  • Do they have plans to continue their education to grow in their career?

 

Retirement Expectations

  • What do they think about Social Security and how dependent are they or plan to be on Social Security income?
  • Do they make regular contributions to an employer retirement plan?
  • Do they make contributions to other retirement accounts?
  • Have they taken early withdrawals from 401k, IRA, or other plans?
  • Do they have any loans against their 401K?
  • Do they own any stock of their employer (direct equity or Employee Share Purchase Plan)?

 

Investments

  • Are they interested in investing in the stock market?
  • Have they ever lost money in the stock market or another major investment?
  • How would they describe their risk tolerance? (risk averse, risk taker or somewhere in between)
  • Do they have an interest or experience in real estate investing?
  • Have they ever invested in the business of a family or friend?
  • Do they prefer to manage their own investments or have someone do it for them?

 

Whew! That was a lot!

 

Hopefully, you read a few of those questions and thought “Do I?”, “Will I?” or “Damn, that’s a good question.”

 

If so, this post has served you well! Don’t stop here – keep going!

Action Steps

  • Make a list of the topics you would like to cover with your partner. Share this post with your partner so that they can do the same.
  • Commit to a time and date to discuss some of the topics above (and more, if needed).
  • Take your time with the topics, it can be overwhelming for you and your partner to tackle in one sitting.  Tackle topics bit by bit.
  • Think about using a safe word when conversations get to heated.
  • If you are already married and have been fighting over money, check out this post for a few tips to reduce them.
  • If you are looking for more tips, rules and ACTION STEPS to manage your own financial life, grab this FREE guide to help your money make more sense and stay on track to reach your financial goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the founder & primary personal financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners avoid common financial mistakes during a divorce or after a recent uncoupling. She is keenly focused on helping women confidently maintain their financial security with proven strategies for living with a budget, managing debt, and improving their credit score. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE 2019 Ultimate Resource Guide HERE.  

 

How to Make Money Conversations Less Awkward

How to Make Money Conversations Less Awkward

Stop whatcha doin’, cuz I’m about to ruin…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(If you know the song, I bet you couldn’t help finishing that line)   

I actually only want to ruin your belief that money conversations are awkward or hard.

That’s it. Simple, right?

I know that discussions about money can be uncomfortable and as humans we naturally fight any discomfort.

Just think about the last time you were in an elevator.

When you entered, maybe there was one person already there. You walked to the opposite wall of the elevator.

Maybe you exchange verbal pleasantries, maybe not.

 

For the next 10-20 seconds, you plan to ride in silence, avoid making eye contact and stare at the elevator buttons as if they’re the most fascinating you’ve ever seen.

 

Then you realize there’s a foul odor (I mean F-O-U-L) and you’re trying to figure out if it’s really possible for a smell like that to be coming from this unknown human nearby.

 

Ding! Time to get off (Thank God)!

 

Maybe you say goodbye as you hurry off at your floor ( likely not because you were holding your breath until the coast is clear!)

Those few seconds of awkwardness don’t stop you from riding elevators because they are a necessity for you to get things done efficiently.

Guess what! So are your money conversations (wink, wink)

While it might not be worth your time to address the awkwardness in elevators, it’s a worthwhile effort to make your money conversations less awkward with your family and friends.

Money conversations can cover numerous topics and therefore spur a ton of emotions.

If you want your family to be open with you about their financial goals and concerns then you first, have to be open with them.

 

Give a little, get a little…

While my previous blog post focused on marriage and how to keep money fights to a minimum, this post shows you ways to jumpstart the conversation with your family and friends about your intentions around your financial goals.

If you want to help make your money conversations less awkward, then it’s important to start with transparency.

 

Use transparency to knock discomfort the hell out of your way.

 

Just be sure that your tone matches your intentions. For example, starting a conversation off with “we need to talk” is probably not the best idea.

 

Romantic Relationships

In case you need a little more help talking to the love of your life, I thought we could start here.

When there have been financial mistakes in a relationship they need to be acknowledged before you can move on.

First, accept responsibility for your mistakes, then make sure you show empathy for your partner’s mistakes.

This helps your discussions start in a neutral position and can help your partner accept the impending change.

A script similar to the one below can be used as a starting point to get your partner to understand your perspective.

Parental Relationships

Your money conversations do have to be like elevator rides. You don’t have to get on and off at the same floors every day. Visit different topics depending on the areas of your life that require the most attention.

 

This is particularly important when it comes to having money conversations with your parents or your children.

 

It is common to hit roadblocks when talking about finances with your family as some topics are inherently more uncomfortable than others.

 

When you are the breadwinner and you live pretty comfortably sometimes your children (adult and minor children) behave as if money falls off trees or like your paycheck is THEIR paycheck.

At times, your parents might be guilty of this too.

If this is the case, it may be time for a change.

 

That message of change may be hard for you to deliver and harder for your loved ones to hear.

 

The scripts below may be a helpful way to inform the family that a changing is coming!

 

Platonic Relationships

Are you the friend that can’t say “No”?

Do you have plans to save money but feel bad turning down a night of tequila and tacos with your best friends?

Do you genuinely just want to go because you love life and you love having a good time (plus you love tacos and tequila)?

When you don’t have the discipline to say NO, you need to empower your inner circle to hold you accountable. Give them permission to speak up when you might be falling off track of reaching your financial goals.

Talk to them about the support you need and allow them to be a part of your progress.

Using a script similar to the one below can help you get support and make saying NO much less awkward.

 

Craft your jump start script based on your own personal relationship dynamics and communicate with patience and genuineness.

Shifting your relationship with money takes time and requires patience with yourself. Getting your family on board requires, even more, patience and understanding.

 

The next time you get on the elevator, speak up and acknowledge everyone who’s on. It may feel pretty weird but you’re really just pushing past some discomfort. It’s merely a lab test and they’re the test dummies.

 

Some may respond to you and some may not, but you did your part by kicking off a conversation.

 

Over the years, I’ve had learned some pretty interesting things about strangers while on an elevator.

 

Imagine what your family can learn about you and how easy your family money conversations could be if you set the stage properly.

If you’re looking to take your financial life to the next level grab the 12 Modern Rules & Action Steps for Building Your Financial Dreams and Making Your Dollars Make More Sense. 

 

 

 

 

Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the founder & primary personal financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners avoid common financial mistakes during a divorce or after a recent uncoupling. She is keenly focused on helping women confidently maintain their financial security with proven strategies for living with a budget, managing debt, and improving their credit score. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE 2019 Ultimate Resource Guide HERE.  

 

Tips to Keep Money Fights Out of Your Marriage

Tips to Keep Money Fights Out of Your Marriage

Dearly beloved…for richer, for poorer…

 

 

 

Money is so serious that it’s in your marriage vows!

Whether you’ve jumped the broom or are preparing to do so, this post is to help you keep money fights out of your marriage.

Money isn’t a topic that generally comes up during the “getting-to-know-you” phase and if it does, we don’t usually spend a lot of time diving deep into it.

While I’m all about both partners preparing for the best marriage possible I have a slight bias towards women having a good pulse on their own finances because of a few key statistics:

  • According to the Center for Disease Control, women live about five years longer than men;
  • The Census Bureau reports women’s earnings are currently about 78% of men’s and women have a higher propensity to live in poverty over the age of 65 compared to men;
  • Women are known to save and invest less money over time when compared to men.

With statistics like that, I know it’s critically important for women to spend time making sure our financial affairs are in order before we get into a relationship and definitely before a marriage.

Let’s get right down to business with tip #1!

#1 Patience
Yep! Patience!

If you’re frustrated just from reading the word there’s a possibility that you don’t have enough of it (just saying).

We all know that being in a relationship requires an incredible amount of compromise and patience. Matters of the heart and matters related to money are quite similar in that way.

Have you ever tried saving for a new house, a new car, funding college AND saving for retirement all at once.

It’s like taking advanced calculus and advanced organic chemistry in the same semester!

Difficult!

It’s difficult to save for multiple big ticket items while trying to maximizing retirement and investment opportunities.

You might need to delay the purchase or rework your retirement plan all together.

A lack of patience is a sure-fire way to keep the fights going in a marriage.

#2 Discuss your individual financial principles and philosophies early & often
Self-awareness is imperative to emotional intelligence and can actually help you select the right partner.

When you’re in a relationship it’s equally important to understand your partner’s decision-making process and abilities.

A high level of emotional intelligence in a relationship allows you to be aware of your partner’s emotional health and personality while managing your reactions to their emotional energy.

It can also help keep fights in your marriage to a minimum and help you understand your partner’s financial principles and philosophies.

Learn your partner’s money route – find out how their life experiences shaped their relationship with money.

Start simple by:

Asking how they feel about money
What their earliest memories of money are
Understanding their debt situation and financial goals

Listen to my interview on the Legendary Marriage Podcast as we explore this topic more.

 

According to a 2013 Pew Research Center study, 4 out of 10 marriages are second marriages.

In second marriages, the same items are still important but there’s added complexity.

You also need to roll up your sleeves to understand your partner’s perspective on preserving, sharing and protecting the assets they already have.

Let’s be honest.  Just because they had money when you met them, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get it. 

On top of that, it’s important to know your own perspective (see my self-awareness comment above)!

If your new union will be blessed with bonus children, do you understand what plans are in place for the children’s protection and care? Do you know if it’s more important to your partner to teach wealth building principles to your children versus living for the moment?

In the thick of love, money & marriage…

Cake topper figurines of a married couple sitting on a cake.

#3 Understand that a marriage is both transactional and relational
Maybe the comments above about preserving and protecting assets gave you the hebbie jebbies. After all, it’s not the most romantic topic.

Hold on to your creeped out hats, folks!

As you know, marriages and some businesses are referred to as partnerships.

I’ve witnessed enough business partnerships go south because of high emotions or crazy ass behavior. I’m sure you’ve witnessed a marriage or two dissolve for similar reasons.

Transactional relationships are about an individual’s self-interests and what works best for them.

Relational relationships are about long term acceptance and choosing mutually beneficial options.

So why does that matter to you?

There will be times when decisions feel more transactional than relational. It may feel as if your partner is acting a bit more selfish than selfless (remember that time you wanted to stick a fork in his eye).

The same may be said about you. I promise that those times are often related to money.

The same Pew Research Center survey mentioned above indicates that when considering marriage financial stability ranks last!

We all know that we place a muuuuuch higher reliance on emotional aspects when deciding to get married and I am not suggesting to ignore those emotions.

However, I am suggesting to be aware when emotions, traditions or the fear of losing love, prevents us from talking about less sexy, but important, topics such as finances and financial goals.

Money is already emotional and when you add the complexities of a marriage, it brings a literal sense to the phrase emotional roller coaster.

When someone decides to start a business partnership, they are concerned about the viability of the business, the opportunity to make money and generally make a difference in their families, communities or the world.

They are concerned about both the transactional and relational aspects.

Those same considerations apply for marriage.

#4 it’s okay to break the rules
There are so many rules and traditions when it comes to marriage that is often hard to keep up.

It’s also difficult to break traditions because it makes us uncomfortable.

Heck, it even makes our family’s uncomfortable.

While it’s harder for us to adapt to change, usually it’s necessary.

Here are two examples related to marriage and money.

1.You don’t have to have joint accounts
(Gasp!)

If you have different financial philosophies than your partner it may make sense to start out your marriage with separate accounts.

If you have joint accounts today and you find yourselves butting heads over money, try splitting accounts.

Some marriages have success with keeping accounts separate forever but having one or two joint accounts for household and familial responsibilities. On the other hand, some join their finances after they get a good footing in the marriage. Having joint accounts just because that’s “what married couples do” is not a good enough reason.

Regardless of the action you choose, it’s always important to make sure that each individual feels that they have some amount of financial autonomy.

2. Discussing money is not taboo
How many times have you heard it’s not polite to talk about money? Maybe you’ve been shut down when you ask questions because “it’s not the right time.”

Of course, I talk about money for a living so my comfort level is higher than most, but it’s important for you to:
– have planned family financial discussions
– assemble your personal financial team

The days of “your _____________ (insert mother/father) handles all the finances and I don’t know anything” statements should be over.

I encourage you to be a part of purchasing decisions for big ticket items as well as smaller ticket items.

I know money can be sensitive and emotionally overwhelming at times to discuss, however, I encourage you to be FIIRM and not avoid the conversations.

While marriage may be bliss, financial ignorance is truly not.

Many may say “for richer, for poorer” but I can’t think of anyone truly interested in the poorer part.

Grab your Couple’s Financial Checklist to discover the items covered in this blog post as well as some extra details to help you and your partner stay on track to keep money fights out of your marriage.

 

 

Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the founder & primary personal financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners avoid common financial mistakes during a divorce or after a recent uncoupling. She is keenly focused on helping women confidently maintain their financial security with proven strategies for living with a budget, managing debt, and improving their credit score. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE 2019 Ultimate Resource Guide HERE.  

 

FIIRM Fireside Chat w/ Monica Harris: Money Questions to Consider Before Remarrying

FIIRM Fireside Chat w/ Monica Harris: Money Questions to Consider Before Remarrying

FIIRM Fireside chats are expert interviews that allow you to get a different perspective from my network of powerful, smart and amazing people. After watching the video or reading the transcript of our brief discussion, I hope you have at least one light bulb moment. It would be even better if you decided to take FIIRM action in your life based on something you found helpful.

Monica Harris is a licensed insurance agent and financial services professional. We have known each other for over 20 years and she drops great knowledge nuggets in this chat.

 

 

[Video Transcript]

The FIIRM Approach Fireside Chat with Nikki Tucker and Monica Harris

 

Nikki: Hello! This is Nikki Tucker, the managing director and founder of The FIIRM Approach. Tonight, we are having a lovely fireside chat, talking about a couple of different things. The main thing is a recent blog article that I wrote, titled “What if She Gets Your Money.” Tonight, we are talking about beneficiaries and beneficiaries gone wrong, particularly for one segment of the population. We will figure out where the conversation goes, because I will not be alone. I have the pleasure and privilege of speaking with my resident expert, Monica Harris, and she is going to give you her perspective and insight because she is an expert! I want to welcome Monica Harris to the fireside chat tonight. Monica, I will give you the opportunity so you can tell the audience about who you are, what you do, and why they should listen to you.

 

Monica: Hi, everyone! I am Monica Harris. I am the chief advisor with Efficient Estates Financial Services. Nikki, thank you so much for having me this evening. In terms of why you should listen to me, I have a little bit of experience in this space. I’ve served in the financial services industry for about 18 years. My experiences range from retail banking, cash management, investing in stocks, investing in small businesses, to designing real estate transactions. I’ve done just a little bit of everything (outside of commercial) in financial services that there is to do. Most recently, I entered the insurance industry in 2006. Since 2012, I have had a specialized niche of designing annuity and life insurance strategies. I have clients who have navigated this journey with me for nearly 10 years. My most notable success story came from a woman who prematurely and improperly withdrew money from her employer provided defer compensation plan. It almost cost her well over $40,000. We were able to advise her accountant on how to completely eliminate that disaster. So, we know a little something about this stuff.

 

Nikki: Wow, well that’s awesome. I think you know more than a little, and that’s definitely why you are a part of the chat tonight. I am going to just give a quick and dirty rundown of the blog post for those that haven’t have an opportunity to see it. Then, we’ll dive in because you and I obviously know about it already. Again, the blog post is titled, “What if She Gets Your Money.” Essentially, there are situations that happen, maybe more often than I would hope for – I’m sure Monica would attest and agree to it than she would hope for – where sometimes you make a lot of decisions about your financial affairs. You are trying to get everything in order. You feel like you have. Then, there’s one thing, one stone that you left unturned, and things don’t go the way you intended them to. In this particular blog post, I was discussing the situation where there was a married couple. It was a second marriage, and one of the life insurance policies had the beneficiary listed as the ex-wife. A tragic accident occurred, and so on and so forth. My question for you, Monica, is if you were reading this story, if you had a client with a situation like this, what type of conversation would you have upfront with Vicki?

 

Monica: Up front, meaning, before she entered the marriage?

 

Nikki: Yes, before she entered the marriage.

We’re trying to influence our lovely friends and family to be proactive and not reactive.

 

Before she gets hitched for the second time, and is madly in love and blinded by love.

 

Monica: Right, and I know so much about that one. Like right as I was reading the blog, I was like “Oh my gosh, did she just name Monica, Vicki?”

 

I am first going to ask her about her daughter’s well-being, her daughter’s father and his influence, and whether or not he is in the picture. The reason that I want to know that is because I want her to consider positioning her assets that she already has and that she’s bringing into the marriage, at least considering, whether or not she wants those assets to remain attached to her daughter. Because once she’s married, depending on what state she is in (the majority of states I believe), once you are married, if something happens to you, even with some beneficiary arrangement, your spouse is kind of entitled to making decisions at the very least.

 

In advance of getting married, with a child from a previous relationship, I would first ask, “Are you comfortable with, are your affairs solidified for your child’s inheritance?” If your child, Tara, is a minor, you realize if something happens to you while she is still a minor, that depending on how you have your affairs documented, an estate could be set up for her with her legal guardian having control over that estate.

Are you comfortable with your ex (or whoever that person would be) managing her financial affairs?

 

Number One: Are things situated? Do you want things to remain exclusively for her, as opposed to getting tied up in the marital property?

Number Two: If you are going to try to segregate your pre-marital assets from the marriage, are you comfortable with the possibility of predeceasing your daughter while she’s a minor, and whomever her legal guardian is, ending up being the executor of that estate and ultimately having control over how it is dispersed? I just want to get her thinking about things like that.

Number Three: Do you have any additional assets that you’d like to acquire for your minor child or your pre-marital estate before you get married? If she is in a financial position to do so, there might be some things you want to talk to an estate planning attorney about, or an accountant about, in terms of how do I acquire those assets before the big day? How do they have to be documented? Is it meaningful?

 

Are there some things you want that he can’t touch? If so, let’s start working on a timeline to acquire those things and to acquire them efficiently.

 

Those are just some main things that I could think of, immediately. Ultimately, though, me not being an estate planning attorney, and depending on how she would have answered those questions, I would want to bring one in. Let’s get with an estate planning attorney because I am not going to be able to tell her how those documents need to be, how those assets need to be titled, and so forth and so on.

 

I would be curious to know what type of conversations her and Chris, the fiance, have had about their financial compatibility. What habits of his has she observed? What are her likes, her dislikes? Can she handle it? Because that is very important, especially when you come into a marriage with something. Does he come with any baggage, financial illiteracy, etc? I don’t want to go too far because I don’t know how much of the blog you are going to talk about, but there are some other things in there, too.

 

Nikki: I’ll make sure I give you an opportunity to touch on those, even if I don’t. I think you hit on a few key things and it is important for us to have a real conversation and to be transparent. I think your last point or I KNOW your last point is really valid about having a conversation – a real conversation – with the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with. Whether it’s your first marriage, second marriage, third marriage, that doesn’t really matter. From conversations I have had either with girlfriends or with clients, there’s a hesitation around wanting to talk about these items. They seem sensitive, or like you might end up in a fight and you might end up not walking down the aisle. You are not going to risk that! But that’s just my perspective on why people are apprehensive to have those real tough financial conversations. Do you have any experience or insight into why people may or may not be comfortable doing it? And why they should get over that?

 

Monica: I think you nailed the first one. It’s like what have I to fear? You know, that fear of the unknown. Am I really gonna kick this off and possibly not get my big day or something?

 

I was going to say I’ve been recently married, but it’s been five years. That’s still new, though. Coming into my second marriage and a blended family, I was completely disinterested in the big day. I was more so interested in the financial papers. That’s not normal! I think most people are so caught up… No, most people I think just don’t regularly nurture their financial situations as individuals, as single people. To even think about it as a factor, prior to getting married, unless they are dealing with a marriage counselor that has that as a component in their program, they are probably not even thinking about it.

 

Some of these possibilities are not at the forefront. They aren’t even IN their minds let alone at the forefront of their minds. But most often, I believe that as you stated in the blog, your day to day life takes over. I am really rare. I’m the person who is actually going to schedule time on my calendar to do my total financial picture. I need to see what it looks like 2 to 3 times a month.  

 

That’s not common. Who has time for that? Referring back to the blog post, she already has a child. I am sure the child has commitments and extracurricular activities. She’s younger, and she’s planning a wedding. Who has time to think about, “Hmm, oh I wonder who the beneficiary is on his 401k, and I’m going to have to update my…” Really? That’s just you and me.

 

Nikki: No, we are definitely on an island all by ourselves. I think that we are both committed to bringing other women (women in particular, but other people) onto that island because it is so important to be there. You don’t have to be obsessive, the way you and I are, where we are checking our financial picture on a daily to weekly basis just cause that’s my thing.

 

At the same time, you can’t completely push it to the side because you may end up in a situation where what you thought was coming to you, in the event that something tragic and unexpected happens, is not coming to you because you did not take the time to take care of your business.

 

That’s the bottom line, and it’s a hard truth for some people. Like you said, they are busy with life. They don’t want to hear about it, even for those that have done some work on the estate planning side. Just because you have a will, doesn’t mean you get to ignore your beneficiary information. In most situations, what you put down on those forms trumps what is in your will. Most people don’t know that. Most people are not going to care until it matters, and when it matters it is going to be too late.

 

I don’t want to keep you. I know we said we would keep the Fireside Chats relatively quick, making sure people are getting enough information where they walk away with a little something. The last thing that I would ask, maybe has two parts. One – Is there anything that stuck out to you in the blog that you want to make sure you touch on before I let you go? Two – Any quick tips or pointers as far as things that women should really be mindful of and making sure they pay attention to, whether they are doing it on their own, or whether they are working with professionals like us? What should people be doing?

 

Monica: Immediately following viewing this video, everyone should take a look at their beneficiary arrangements. You’ve talked about wills, so hopefully, everyone is very clear on the fact that that is literally just a list of everything that you have and who you would like to have it. Take a look at your beneficiary arrangements. Make sure they are current. I think that life events are very important if there is a recent job change, a death in the family, a new baby, a marriage, an adoption, or even if someone, some extended relative passed on with assets. There’s a lot of opportunity in all of that stuff. It can either result in positive opportunities for building wealth, or disasters. Take an assessment, and build into your calendars. If you’re not building into your calendars, it might not happen, right? It might not happen religiously, but if you put it in there as a recurring event, monthly or quarterly, at some point I think that you will adopt it.

 

Nikki: I need you to repeat that one more time because most people will ignore that. Say it again just to make sure that they get it.

 

Monica: Sit down. Look at your calendar, and see what really is most important. If your calendar looks like mine, where it’s color-coded and there’s no white space ever, I still find things where it’s like, “If I’m prioritizing, I can move that back. I’ve got to do this.” I’ve got to do this because we don’t get to make an appointment for life events (most of them). Designating time into your schedule (even if it’s not until the end of March), at least get it on the calendar to review what you have in your bank account, on your life insurance, on your retirement plan, and in terms of your home, your property. That’s a whole other ball game!

 

Participate in all of the educational forums that we’re going to be hosting. Make it not too stiff, where we will have an attorney there and when you are going to these events, don’t just show up! Designate some time in your calendar before the event to write down your questions. Make sure you ask them because most attorneys charge to just sit down and answer those preliminary questions. When you go to these workshops and these webinars, you get to ask questions for free! Jot down your questions, bring them with you, and ask them. That’s what I would encourage people to do. Just recognizing that when you decide to make these huge life changes, and when you don’t decide to. Some of the life events that I neglected to mention, where even when you get laid off or you switch jobs, that is a time to sit down. When it happens, you can’t sit down right away, right? But when you know that something has happened or you know it’s going to happen, you go straight to your calendar. Build in that time!

 

Nikki: Those are really great summary points, and I’m going to repeat them one more time. I don’t think that we can beat our friends and our family, and even those that we don’t know that end up seeing this video, enough about those points. If I’m summarizing incorrectly, you can beat me up about it, just let me know like, “Nikki, you missed a point!” Ultimately, we need people to be proactive and be committed to it. You can be committed to getting your financial affairs in order, specifically reviewing your beneficiary information at this point, by putting it on your calendar. You figure out the frequency that works for you, and what makes sense. Maybe you miss a day or two because life gets in the way, but you keep it as a recurring event on your calendar so that you eventually will get to it. You’ll stop canceling on yourself.

 

Two, if there’s an opportunity to get information, whether it’s live, in person, or even online and stuff like this, be prepared. Ask questions, especially because you have access to free expert advice. Take advantage of the situation. There are things that may come out of those events that are helpful. One, attend them, especially if they have wine or food, and two, don’t just show up and be silent. Be present at the event. Be present, and again, proactive in your own life. It definitely can’t hurt. I can’t see a situation where you walk away pissed because you’ve asked a question.

 

Thank you for the awesome chat Monica! I really appreciate your input and your expertise.

 

Has this post inspired you to make sure that all your financial ducks are in a row? Take another step in the right direction and dive right in! See what other female breadwinners are using to manage their money, save more, earn more and save time. Grab your free copy of the FIIRM Ultimate Financial Resource Guide today.  

 

Monica can be found providing value in her Facebook Group Money Chats. You can find out more about her and her company Efficient Estates, here

 

 

 

 

Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the founder & primary personal financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners avoid common financial mistakes during a divorce or after a recent uncoupling. She is keenly focused on helping women confidently maintain their financial security with proven strategies for living with a budget, managing debt, and improving their credit score. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE 2019 Ultimate Resource Guide HERE.  

 

What if SHE Gets Your Money

What if SHE Gets Your Money

Note:  Some contents of this post may be considered sensitive 

Chris and Vicki were married for 8 years. They both had been married before, so they dated for a couple years before tying the knot. They wanted to be sure the second time around.

 

While they never had any kids together, Chris was an amazing step-father to Vicki’s daughter, Tara.

Tara was an 8th-grade honor-roll student. She wasn’t boy crazy yet because Vicki and Chris kept her involved in dance and theater.

Chris was a 49-year-old alpha male. He was protective of his family and a great provider. He was appreciative & respectful of the contributions that Vicki made to help them achieve their goals together. Their marriage was a real partnership.

One day around noon, while each of them were working, Chris and Vicki chatted on the phone about their upcoming vacation.

The discussion was mainly about the destination. Should they visit the west coast to spend time with Vicki’s extended family or go someplace tropical to be beach bums for a week?

Chris needed to complete a work project before leaving for the day. He told Vicki they would finish the discussion that night. “Love you,” she whispered into the phone. She almost always held her breath as she waited for his consistent response. “Love you back,” Chris replied.

Evening came, but the vacation conversation never continued. Chris was killed in a car accident on his way home from work.

Vicki and Tara were devastated. Chris had been a major part of their lives. Now out of nowhere, he was gone. Vicki knew that life would be different.

Chris was the person that made her feel better when she had a bad day at work.

He was the one she shared her innermost fears and dreams with.

Chris was also the one that attended to most of the financial responsibilities. He handled most of the bill paying and kept an eye on their retirement and savings accounts. Vicki found slight solace in knowing that Chris had made sure they would be well taken care of financially.

That was until she discovered that one of his older life insurance policies had never been updated.

Chris had life insurance policies through his employer and outside of work. There was one policy he converted after he left a previous employer a few years back.

He had been paying on the policy for years. When he converted the policy he was still single.

He intended to update the beneficiary information but was busy with something else when it arrived and eventually he forgot to complete.
Now the $100,000 check wouldn’t be sent to Vicki to deposit into her account. It would be sent to his ex-wife.

Her first thought upon discovering the news was “You’ve gotta be freaking kidding me!”

Chris and his ex-wife didn’t have children together. Vicki wasn’t her biggest fan and Chris wasn’t either.

He would never have wanted the money to go to his ex. Vicki was confident of this based on conversations she had with Chris over the years.

The divorce decree did not stipulate that his ex-wife needed to remain a beneficiary on the policy.

Vicki figured it was an oversight on Chris’s part, but unfortunately, there was little she could do. [They didn’t live in a community property state].

Losing Chris was a huge loss for their family.

The stress of funeral planning and navigating life without him was an overwhelming feeling. Dealing with the life insurance surprise added to the stress of it all.

Ultimately, there was enough money from the other policies to cover living expenses and pay off a few bills, but an extra $100,000 would have provided more breathing room.

This situation is not uncommon. 

But it you put aside the emotional aspect of this story for a moment, you can see the practical side.

Today you’re the love of his life.

There may have been a life before you.

There may have been a wife before you.

What about his mother? Maybe you love her. Maybe you…could do without her. 🙂

But before YOU came along, she may have been the top priority in your mate’s life.

What if your mother-in-law got life insurance money that was supposed to go to you?

What if it wasn’t a life insurance policy but a bank account?

What if her name was still on an old bank account with a $2,500 balance?

Legally, as joint owner of the account, she has the discretion to do whatever she wants with the money.

Your mother in law could be the nicest woman on the planet today. Most people are nice until there’s a money situation.

Fighting over money can seem petty. $2,500 in the grand scheme of things…petty. $100,000…now that’s a different story in my world.

Here’s something else to consider.

Women in the United States typically outlive men by an average of 5 years.

What does that mean for you? Whether it’s an accident or natural causes, there is a high probability that you will outlive your husband.

You need to be as prepared as possible for this.

Life is busy! Important items get put off all the time.

Everyone makes mistakes. Some are little Tinkerbell mistakes, while others are worthy of multiple curse words and tears.

It doesn’t matter if your family has millions or $250 in the bank.

We see stories on the news quite often about people that didn’t update their estate plans or critical life documents.

Think about the tragic deaths of Whitney Houston and Bobbi Kristina. While it wasn’t a life insurance mishap, there were estate documents that were out of date. Maybe the assets ended up exactly as intended, maybe not.

I’m sure you can think of someone you know personally that was affected by an unexpected event that resulted in financial misunderstandings or difficulties.

When you’re discussing the situation with a friend, you sympathize. You might even think, “I really need to get my stuff in order so that doesn’t happen to us.”

Then dance lessons, sports practices, family gatherings and vacations get in the way. Again and again.

While, this is not uncommon it may cost you more money and time than you planned to fix mistakes.

Plus, you guessed it – It is avoidable.

Disclaimer Notice: As a friendly reminder, I am not an attorney nor insurance advisor. I don’t even get to play one on TV. Therefore, the information within this article and website is provided for informational purposes only. Please consult with the proper legal or financial professional before taking action. Deciding to take a stab at things without proper consultation is at your own risk, beautiful.

It might be worth your time to schedule an in-depth conversation with your significant other. It’s important to make sure you are both on the same page about your finances and particularly your beneficiary information.

Think about the situation from a different perspective.

Can you confidently say that you’ve crossed all your “T’s” and dotted your “I’s” of your personal financial information?

What if YOU were the one with outdated account information?

Take a moment, think about bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, etc.

You work really hard to take care of your family. It’s important to you to make sure that happens the way you intended even if you’re not there to boss them around.

Sure, there are laws in some states that can protect against some of this chaos. Do you really want to split your money with the lawyers?

Do you really want to rely on changing legislation to protect you?

I’m not sure what your number is.

Maybe your number is $2,500. Maybe it’s $100,000.

But you know, there’s an amount that would make you go batsh*t crazy if it went to another woman.

You have the power to avoid the pain and frustration of this situation.

I didn’t write this post to make you feel guilty. I didn’t write this post to make light of a tragic situation.

I wrote this post to acknowledge the uncomfortableness of this topic and how it leads to no action.

I wrote this post to acknowledge the comfort with procrastination and how that can lead to disaster.

It might be uncomfortable to have the conversation but it’s definitely worth it to make sure your everyone’s intentions are known and respected. It’s about much more than money.

 

 

 

Nikki Tucker

Nikki Tucker

Founder & Managing Director

 

Nikki is a 16-year financial services professional and the founder & primary personal financial strategist for The FIIRM Approach. She helps female breadwinners avoid common financial mistakes during a divorce or after a recent uncoupling. She is keenly focused on helping women confidently maintain their financial security with proven strategies for living with a budget, managing debt, and improving their credit score. TAKE ACTION & LEARN about the tools that can help make your new money life easier. Grab your FREE 2019 Ultimate Resource Guide HERE.  

 

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