Concord, MA (MMD Newswire) February 6, 2009 — A Financial Plan as a Valentine’s Day Gift?

I have been hearing from my clients, friends and community that women want a greater degree of financial autonomy. The women I know are happily married, most are mothers and all are tremendous givers. A friend recently sent me an email that has been circulating the Internet that compares women to the faceless builders of the huge cathedrals. When a carver was asked why he would spend so much time on the details of a bird on a column located so high up in the church that it was difficult to see and appreciate the detail, the carver said, «Because God sees.» This is a beautiful sentiment. Yet, even the most enlightened women are painfully reminded of the lack of validation for much of this work day in and day out. Besides, nurturing, planning for everyone else, and keeping things clean and stocked are appreciated but not very stimulating.

Many capable women who have put their energies into their families and private lives at the expense of their careers are adrift when it comes to their financial identities. Many started out with no shortage of ambition, often making more money than their husbands, but when the babies arrived the dynamic changed. What a life of good fortune to be able to raise your own children primarily on one salary. Now, the kids are out of the nest, or soon to be, and the women are dependent on the couple’s savings and investments and the husband’s career opportunities. Many mothers are happily back in school, planning for a new chapter of work yet worried that their own tuition will be at the cost of saving for their children’s college or retirement. Some are working at jobs for a fraction of what they are worth due to the «flexibility» discount. Still others have turned over the retirement planning to their husbands.

Out of the most uncertain times comes opportunity. This a wonderful time for independent, forward thinking couples to become an economic team once more. As we know a team benefits most when all the teammates contribute. For those couples whose knowledge of the family finances is out of balance, avoiding the next bubble is more romantic than another bauble. Including and sharing is a very romantic way to say I love you. Having control in the investments and big spending decisions is a turn on. Working faithfully year after year to build careers and then having to remind their families to watch the spending is not.

I would posit that couples wondering where the excitement has gone simply might need to shake it up. As dry as this seems, working through the financial planning process can be better for a long marriage than a series of dance lessons (although that can work wonders too!). What better way to express your love, caring and appreciation for each other than to work together to ensure a shared, secure future, risk, rewards and all. The process requires spending time together and talking. Both partners get to describe their fantasy future. Having vivid and desirable shared goals makes restraint a game worth playing. So for this Valentine’s Day, book an appointment with a financial planner and watch the sparks fly!

Peggy McGillin is a Financial Planner and Registered Investment Advisor in Concord, MA. Her firm is Journey Financial Planners. She can be reached at peggy@journeyfinancialplanners.com or 978 369-2911.

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