The Power of Two

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The Power of Two

I work with clients of all shapes and sizes, but I think my most gratifying work comes from working with couples. I am currently working with couples in various stages of their relationships, dating, newly engaged, almost married, newlyweds and long time marrieds/coupled; and it’s amazing for me to watch the team dynamic shift over the course of becoming financially fit.

Typically when I start working with a couple, one half (I like to think the better half) decides that they need a little extra help with their finances. Even if it seems as though they don’t need help, something motivates that person to seek me out. At first, I usually only talk to this half of the couple as he or she questions me about how I can help them and the person they are with live a better life.

This person usually goes back and tells the other that they have to work with me and because the other person wants to keep their loved one happy, they concede and sit through a meeting with me. I don’t always win over the hesitant partner right away, but I love when I see that person start to realize that maybe asking for help isn’t a bad thing and that financial fitness could actually make sense.

Common Goals is Step One

Through lots of questions and dialogue, I love watching my clients work together to start to visualize and formulate common goals and directions. It is really like watching the beginning of a movie you know you’re going to love, and I truly feel blessed to have a front row seat for the show.

After the first two meetings where goals are defined and plans are made, my couples are set off on their own to see if they can pull it together themselves and get going on the path to financial fitness. When we regroup in three months, about half achieve their goals and the other half usually fail miserably. The ones who are on goal, sit in front of me with this feeling of victory and pride in their ability to work together, and I am proud of them in return. The ones who fail, sit in front of me dejected and forlorn that they couldn’t figure it out. I never stress about the failures, though, because the beautiful thing about financial fitness is that despite setbacks, it’s always achievable.

Setbacks will Happen

I recently met with one of my first time fail couples for their second quarter meeting, and it had to be one of my all-time favorite meetings. Three months prior, this couple found out from me that they failed miserably and rather than sit there and mope, they put together the plan for how they would get back on track. They set some pretty strict goals that even they didn’t know they could achieve, but I knew that if they worked together, the power of two would lead them to success.

Sure enough, when we recently met, their plans not only worked, but they had more than made up for that bad quarter. I told them that I couldn’t be more proud, but nothing was better for me than seeing the pride they felt over what they accomplished. Everybody’s path to financial fitness is different; some people need success right away while others need to fail to learn how to proceed successfully. No matter what the path, though, it’s always easier when you have someone with you who is of the same mindset. It’s why the initial goal setting and continuous goal setting is so important to me as a financial planner. When my clients have shared and common goals, they work together to achieve them; and the more passionate they are about the goals, the more they accomplish.

Working Together Makes a Difference

On Friday’s podcast, I am talking with Elle Martinez from Couple Money about some best practices couples can apply to their relationship to ease money stresses. Money and financial choices play a big part in a couple’s failure but it doesn’t have to be that way. I see couples with all different backgrounds and money philosophies come together to achieve amazing things. It’s important to let money unify you and your partner rather than create challenges.

I am thrilled for the success of my couples and to the ones getting started; I’m excited that they both decided to take the journey to financial fitness together. Relationships are hard enough, but when you’re financially fit, it not only gives your balance sheet a break, but your home life a break as well.

Do you and your significant other have shared financial goals? Do you find it easier to achieve goals with someone else alongside you? If you are single, do you think that someone with a different financial mindset would be a turn off?
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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices.

Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I sure if your couple clients were already on the same page, they wouldn’t need much help. 🙂 My wife and I are much better as a team. We did not always share the same financial goals, or at the very least were working together on them. Once we combined our effort we saw an incredible improvement.

  2. I feel very lucky that we have always been on the same page. I think it helps that we were both poor for our early 20s. When we got together, we had nothing, so it was easier to create a joint system to manage our money.

  3. My boyfriend (and partner of 7 years!) and I don’t have a ton of shared financial goals. But we are interested in investing in our property. I think I’ve mentioned I’ve got a small ranch house on nearly an acre of land in a popular neighborhood in East Nashville. We’ve talked about adding additional dwellings, renovating the basement, etc. Having a shared vision to monetize our property definitely makes it easier!

  4. Absolutely – my soon to be husband & I have several financial goals! The biggest one right now is increasing our downpayment & emergency fund before buying a home. I think achieving goals with someone alongside of you is such a great thing. It allows us to hold each other accountable, support one another & celebrate successes along the way. For example: initially we thought we were going to buy a home this past year, and we went to go get pre-approved. We both knew what our credit scores were, but when we heard the mortgage lender state the scores out loud we just smiled & high five’d each other. 🙂 It’s goofy moments like that, that help us keep the momentum to reach our financial goals!

  5. It’s nice to see that maybe times have changed for the better and BOTH people are involved in the household’s finances. I do think it might be easier to be in a relationship where I could bounce ideas off someone and have someone be my cheerleader, so for now I’ll have to settle for a couple good friends who fit that role.

  6. I agree; it is so rewarding to see couples come together and master their finances as a unit. It always surprises me how many couples don’t have shared goals and find out through the process of setting them that they may have even been inadvertently sabotaging them beforehand. Chris and I have very similar money philosophies and have always been very open and honest with one another. It makes a huge difference in every aspect of our marriage. There is a good reason why money is often cited as the #1 cause of divorce.

  7. Before 2015, my husband and I didn’t have any financial goals–we were on the proverbial hamster wheel of work, promotions, work more. We didn’t see a need for goals since we already had everything one might acquire, including cars, house, stuff for the house, etc. Fortunately, we were able to agree on FI goals fairly quickly!

  8. I think my wife and I do share common goals, though they may be a bit ambiguous right now. For example, we for sure want to pay off our debt but are both open to refinancing strategies and would be okay if we had money in the bank but kept low-interest debt on our books. I think we also both want to make “as much money as possible” but we aren’t sure what that looks like or means. For me it’s meant each year making more money than the last (which has worked out well and sort of “gamified” my finances), and for her it’s meant going to grad school so she can qualify for jobs she wants to have and that, inevitably pay a lot more than an undergrad psych degree. I think we are okay with the ambiguity right now, but would love to have more solid/defined long-term goals in, say, 10 years.

  9. This is such a great post, and it must feel so rewarding when you finally see the turning point when couples ‘get it’ when it comes to having the same financial goals. B was definitely the more influential one to save, and though it took me some time to ‘get it,’ now that I have, money becomes somewhat of a non-issue since we’re both in the same mindset. It’s a great thing to not fight about it… though other things like housekeeping might be another thing. 😉

  10. Well, it’s easy to (mostly) have the same goals for now: Tim’s dental implants. But even now there are struggles with priorities. There are things he wishes I’d loosen up on. There are things I had to begrudge him (which is why I won’t loosen up on the rest).

    It’s a process, right?

  11. Being on the same page and MEANING IT is HUGE. My ex-husband and I looked like we were on the same page but when things got tricky it very quickly became apparent that we weren’t. Money isn’t the reason we’re not still married but it was a symptom of how incompatible our values were.

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