Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day for romance and re-connection. For many couples, however, this time of year could be marked by disagreements about money. Nearly half of all married couples argue about financial issues.1
With the new year just starting and tax season right around the corner, many people use this time to evaluate their spending, earnings and financial performance over the previous year. That analysis could reopen sore spots about money management.
The performance of the financial markets over the past few months could also be a source for disagreement among couples, especially those who have differing investment styles. After starting strong for the first three quarters of the year, the S&P 500 finished with an epic meltdown in the fourth quarter. The index ended the year down 7 percent, the first time in history it’s finished the year negative after being positive for the first three quarters.2
Do you and your spouse disagree about investing styles? Does one of you take a more aggressive stance while the other prefers to play it safe? Below are a few helpful tips on how you and your spouse can meet in the middle and get past your investment-related disagreements:
Draft an investment policy statement.
Many couples disagree about their investment approach because they’ve never developed a formal investment strategy. They generally know they want to save for retirement, but they’ve never discussed their specific objectives or tactics. An investment policy statement does just that.
Your investment policy statement is a written document that states your goals, acceptable risks and the steps you will take to reach your objectives. It outlines which types of investments are appropriate for your strategy and which are not. You can use your investment policy statement as a guide for making future decisions.
The process of developing the investment policy statement could be beneficial for many couples. You’re forced to share your differing opinions and compromise to reach a strategy. Those conversations could help you work out differences and find areas where you agree, which could diffuse future arguments.
Develop a retirement income plan.
Often, arguments are fueled by uncertainty about the future. You’re unsure of when you’ll be able to retire or how much more you need to save, so that heightens your anxiety and sharpens disagreements. You may be able to avoid arguments by eliminating the uncertainty.
Work with your financial professional to develop a retirement income plan. You can project your future retirement income from sources such as Social Security, an employer pension and even your own savings. You can also build a retirement budget to estimate your spending. These two projections should give you an idea of how close you are to reaching your goals, how much more you need to save and how much risk you should take to achieve growth.
Don’t avoid the conversation.
Have you and your spouse agreed to disagree about your differing investment styles? Do you avoid the conversation? Or do you go it alone with your individual accounts so you don’t have to discuss issues that may lead to disagreement?
While you may not want to disagree or argue, it’s also not helpful to avoid the conversation. If you each have differing styles and don’t have a cohesive plan, you could be missing out on opportunity.
For example, assume your spouse is aggressive with his or her investment style and takes on a substantial amount of risk. Perhaps you’re conservative and choose assets that offer little return potential but also have little chance of loss. You may feel that the “go it alone” approach works because you each invest according to your comfort level and you avoid arguments.
By avoiding the conversation, however, you may be missing out on opportunities to meet in the middle and achieve better performance. For example, you could find an allocation that has growth potential and reduced risk. You could use tools such as annuities that offer growth without downside exposure. The only way to find these opportunities is to discuss your differing approaches and look for middle ground.
Work with a professional.
Finally, you may find it helpful to bring in a third party, like a financial professional. They can give objective, impartial feedback and also provide information and analysis that may change your approach. They can also help you develop a retirement strategy and an investment policy statement to guide your decision-making.
Ready to overcome your investment disagreements with your spouse? Let’s talk about it. Contact us today at Grand Canyon Planning Associates. We can help you analyze your needs and implement a plan. Let’s connect soon and start the conversation.