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Financial planner
Old 02-10-2015, 09:08 AM   #1
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Financial planner

After 35 years of marriage I'm sad to admit my wife and I are having marital problems.One issue has become money.I do the planning and after 8 yrs of retirement I think I'm doing at least an adequate job as our portfolio manager.At this point I don't want to be the one who determines how much a month we can safely spend and not wind up as dumpster divers if we are lucky or unlucky enough to live long lives. This really is the only reason I'm considering a planner.This way neither of us determines how much we can safely spend each month. I guess the fees are now 1-2% annually which is pretty outrageous in my mind but if this may help our marriage it might be worth it. Any thoughts out there on my situation and how I can find a good planner If I go that route?
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Old 02-10-2015, 09:15 AM   #2
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I'm guessing that part of the marital problems are her spending habits, and that she wants to buy nice things and you're the bad guy?

I'm sorry to say but I don't see a happy ending to this even with a financial planner. I was married to a guy who wanted the best of everything and didn't care how many credit cards he maxed out to pay for them. I guarantee he wouldn't have listened to a financial planner; he just didn't want to hear "you can't afford that". I did what I could to save from my own salary and keep our debts other than the mortgage separate, but in the end if we needed a new roof or the water heater died, I was the emergency fun because he'd spent every dime he made and then some. He just wasn't on the same page.

Do you think she would listen to a financial planner? Would a simpler solution such as "You Need a Budget" software be a better and cheaper first step?
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Old 02-10-2015, 09:15 AM   #3
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You want a fee only financial planner. Don't under any circumstances go with someone that charges a fixed percentage.

If you have a Vanguard account you can get a financial plan and part of this is a "safe" spending level. If you have over $1MM the planner is free. I'm not sure what the other account levels are charged.

You can get a fee only planner from other than Vanguard. You should be very specific with any planner what you are looking for but still give them a chance to make their comments in any area they see. It should be available for less than $2,000 unless you have major issues.
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Old 02-10-2015, 09:24 AM   #4
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This way neither of us determines how much we can safely spend each month. I guess the fees are now 1-2% annually which is pretty outrageous in my mind but if this may help our marriage it might be worth it. Any thoughts out there on my situation and how I can find a good planner If I go that route?
Having a qualified neutral third party recommend an affordable level of spending can be helpful, especially if there is disagreement and no way to resolve. I don't see why you need to do it yearly. Hire a fee only planner, pay for a one-time plan that includes a suggestion of sustainable spending. No need to repeat every year.
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Old 02-10-2015, 09:40 AM   #5
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Having a qualified neutral third party recommend an affordable level of spending can be helpful, especially of there is disagreement and no way to resolve. I don't see why you need to do it yearly. Hire a fee only planner, pay for a one-time plan that includes a suggestion of sustainable spending. No need to repeat every year.
+1 I did this shortly after I retired to confirm my planning assumptions. It cost me about $500. I haven't felt any need for a followup.
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Old 02-10-2015, 09:46 AM   #6
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Sounds to me like a marriage counselor would be more useful than a financial planner.
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Old 02-10-2015, 09:52 AM   #7
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Sounds to me like a marriage counselor would be more useful than a financial planner.
+1 However, his DW may be easier to convince to stick with a certain spending level if it comes from a "theoretical" expert.

The interesting thing is that statistically it is much more likely for her to be widowed and then left to get by on the remaining assets. I frequently point out to my DW what steps she should take after I'm gone. I think she's gotten the message although she is not a big spender.
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Old 02-10-2015, 10:10 AM   #8
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I agree with Michael. I'm assuming that the marital discord is from different views on how much you can safely spend.

One alternative would be to hire a fee-only planner to assess your situation and go over it with you and your wife and then the two of you decide on a spending level you can both be comfortable with. If you have assets at Vanguard they will do this for a reasonable fee or free depending on how much you have with them. You could then just do an update every three years or so unless something drastic happens.

Another alternative might be to sit down together with firecalc, QLP or the tool(s) of your choice and see what level of spending can be had while maintaining an agreed upon success rate (say 100% or 98% or 95%). If you go this way, I think it is important to make her part of the process, even if you are doing the inputting and she is just watching you do it so she understands.

Since women generally live longer than men, if you are being conservative you are protecting her from having to dumpster dive in her old age and she needs to understand that.
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Old 02-10-2015, 11:13 AM   #9
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I'll join the chorus about finding a fee-only planner to do a comprehensive plan for both of you. And I'd say that most folks that do these wind up being de-facto marriage counselor by extension. I agree that having a neutral third party will help the discussions and avoid making you the bad guy.
Good luck with this. Check out NAPFA to find a good person in your area, and really take the time to give them all the details you have...better input will equal a better report/outcome.
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Old 02-10-2015, 12:19 PM   #10
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Sometimes an outside party an be a help. DW felt more comfortable after remembering advice from her 403b advisor thief and my old FA, then she 'trusted' my financial determination that we had enough to retire. It also helps that I help manage her mom's account (keeping an eye on her FA) and was the investment officer for a fraternal group.
But deep down she bristled at my 'budgets', possibly resentment from a controlling father. Somehow we settled on a SPENDING PLAN and not a 'budget' and she felt better. One way to look at a budget is that it can identify discretionary/fun money. And another thing we did is to set aside a few $ each month for each of us as mad money to spend as we want without consulting each other. And I try to see that she always has some cash in her purse so it never looks empty.
People can have different ideas about money but the key thing IMHO is to at least take the 'power' issue out of the discussion. I manage our finances because WE think its a good idea, DW does does not like all things financial. But I am willing to let her manage and monthly present the spread sheet of our financial assets whether she wants to read it ornate. Fortunately the last 5 years have been pretty good.
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Old 02-10-2015, 02:56 PM   #11
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I'm sorry to say but I don't see a happy ending to this even with a financial planner. I was married to a guy who wanted the best of everything and didn't care how many credit cards he maxed out to pay for them. I guarantee he wouldn't have listened to a financial planner; he just didn't want to hear "you can't afford that".
I was once married to a woman very much like that - couldn't stand to see a dollar in the bank and thought the solution to every "I wanna..." was charge it or take out a loan. I suggested going to a FA for that reason too, but she refused to even discuss it. When I refused to take out a loan for a trip she bailed and we divorced.

It took a while but I eventually realized what a dumbass I was for staying in it so long.
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Old 02-10-2015, 03:19 PM   #12
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I suggested going to a FA for that reason too, but she refused to even discuss it.
Yeah, only the OP knows how his wife would react, but if she's like my Ex, if the FA said, "the two of you can spend at most $X per year", my Ex would have spent 80% of X on things for himself, leaving me with the remaining 20% to pay my own expenses and boring stuff like the mortgage and the utilities. Oh, and when he'd gone through "his" 80% he'd start with the credit cards.

If the OP's wife would listen to a financial planner about spending and just wants some money that she can spend without asking her husband first, that may be a solution.
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Old 02-10-2015, 05:06 PM   #13
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Marriage counselor!! The original poster said it's not just the money.

Regarding FP, I attempted to try 2. A friend that has a small business recommended his FP. He had me send him my spreadsheets, he put all the information into his forms and sent it back to me to verify. There were a lot of mistakes considering he was just transposing numbers and why should I have to verify his work. That cost me $800. and no information. After hearing about NAPFA, I tried an FP in my area. Explained I didn't have a lot of different accounts. Only wanted him to look at what I had, give suggestions and answer some questions that I'd submit in writing. Got an email back quoting $2000. to $10,000. So much for an hourly rate.
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Old 02-13-2015, 05:33 AM   #14
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Sounds to me like a marriage counselor would be more useful than a financial planner.
We are going to a counselor in a few days. I'm just think that a third party telling us how much we can spend safely and setting up a budget are part of a solution.
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Old 02-13-2015, 06:12 AM   #15
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I didn't pay much attention to this article when I saw the headline earlier this week, but I gave it a look after seeing this thread.

"Money" didn't make the list, so there is no reason to panic.

I'm a marriage counselor. Here's how I can tell a couple is heading for divorce. - Vox

#5 could be part of what happens when money is a source of friction. It's also an area where an outsider's stamp on a couple's financial plan could be mutually beneficial. Harmony in a relationship is much more likely if the numbers on the budget page are "OUR plan".

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5) They've lost the ability to see things from the other's perspective

Ask someone if he or she understands how a partner feels on an issue that divides them, and odds are the answer will be, "Of course." But when someone is totally convinced of the rightness of his or her position, no matter what the other person thinks, "of course" is lip service.
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Old 02-13-2015, 08:37 AM   #16
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We are going to a counselor in a few days. I'm just think that a third party telling us how much we can spend safely and setting up a budget are part of a solution.
My ex-wife was a spender and as part of the "solution" we discussed her spending with her a counselor. The counselor's reply was, "well you seem to have the money, why not let her enjoy it?" I suspect the counselor will be working for a long time, too.
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