In elementary school, we learned that opposites attract, and it was fun to see that principle in action while playing with magnets in science class. We often experience the same level of joy when we meet someone who is different from us. The further from our end of the spectrum a person is, the more interesting we find them. What we don't anticipate is the challenges we will face in our approach to finance. Everyone has their own views and tendencies when it comes to money, some innate and some learned. For couples to succeed in this field, understanding each other is paramount, and the discipline of behavioral finance is key.
What is behavioral finance? Investopedia defines behavioral finance as “a field of study focused on how psychological influences influence market outcomes.” But it's more than that. Have you ever wondered why some people are aggressive investors while others are conservative? Or why one is a spender and the other a saver? Behaviors are innate and come from experiences with money from childhood.
The way we make financial decisions, our spending habits, and even our goal motivations can change from crowd following (imitating the financial behavior of the majority) to familiarity bias (such as investing in what we know). ) and other automatic behavioral biases. This does not mean that we always act the same way. In fact, education, experience, environment, and various situations cause us to behave differently than we are “hard-wired,” but our natural aspects never disappear.
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The important thing is to understand it. That way, we can work from our strengths and remain aware of our blind spots. Gaining insight into your significant other's partner is equally important to building a happy and healthy partnership.
How perspectives and priorities differ
As a wealth manager, I serve many couples who come to the table with completely different perspectives on money. Financial perspectives and priorities vary. Here are just a few.
Human relationships and information. Relationship-oriented people want to focus on a balanced life, keep conversations easy-going, and maintain flexibility, while others have a strong need for details, logic, structure, and rules. This difference can be seen in their overall approach to financial planning.
Although this is not always the case, people who value relationships tend to focus on the present rather than the future and pay less attention to, for example, how current spending affects long-term plans. You may. Conversely, someone who focuses on details and structure may get lost in the analysis and have difficulty moving forward with investment decisions.
The desire to delegate and the desire to control. The decision can be unilateral if one party wants to delegate everything to a third party, such as a financial advisor, and the other party wants to maintain control. Those who prefer to delegate to an advisor can delegate to a partner and withdraw from the financial planning process entirely.
It is always best for both individuals to be fully aware of their financial situation and have an equal say in decision-making. The surviving spouse may find that they lack the ability to fully understand the couple's financial situation, or worse, realize that they do not have enough assets to last them the rest of their lives. very often.
The desire to spend and the desire to budget. This is one of the most common causes of friction between couples, especially if there is a desire to spend money on lifestyle products as well. Lifestyle spending doesn't necessarily mean a lavish lifestyle, although it can be. But lifestyle spending decisions, even something as simple as buying a coffee on your daily commute, can quickly deplete your budget.
If it's important to one spouse and not to the other, you may feel like your needs don't matter. The same goes for everything from date nights to vacations to where you live.
Content and ambition. If one person has ambitious goals and the other leans towards complacency, this can be interpreted as a lack of interest in the future. Neither one is right and neither is wrong, but this becomes another form of financial conflict in a relationship, especially if one partner is bringing in much more money than the other. There is a possibility.
impulsive and planned. From a spending perspective, this simply means impulsive spending rather than following a set budget. From an investment perspective, making emotional decisions as the market declines is usually more likely to result in a loss of capital than staying the course.
Conservative vs. Aggressive. The issue of risk tolerance (how much risk an investor can tolerate) can be difficult to address when developing an investment strategy. Implementing a moderately aggressive portfolio is not enough. If that happens, neither party will receive good service. One will be worried about market volatility, and the other will be worried about missing out on growth.
It is best to start with agreed goals and decide on a strategy according to the plan. Also worth noting is the difference in risk tolerance and propensity to take chances. Occasionally, I come across clients who have a strong propensity to take risks but a low tolerance for living with loss, which further speaks to the need for self-awareness.
What you can do to manage differences
In the example above, and in virtually every interaction, communication is key. By understanding how each person was raised and their experiences with money, we can respect each other's differences and plan our finances collaboratively rather than against each other. You will be able to do it.
As Valentine's Day approaches, think about what you can do to strengthen your financial relationship with your partner. Start with self-awareness (get your free natural behavior profile here) and be ready to embrace your unique profile. Be open to feedback from your partner about your blind spots. Last but not least, consider working with a financial advisor who specializes in the field of behavioral finance.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice is provided through Merit Financial Group, LLC, an SEC registered investment advisor. Merit Financial Group, LLC and Merit Financial Advisors are separate entities from LPL Financial. The opinions expressed in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations to any particular person.
Kelly Gallimore is an investment advisor solely representing Merit Financial Advisors and is not affiliated with LPL Financial. The opinions and views expressed by Kelly Gallimore are his/her own and not those of LPL Financial. This information is not a substitute for individual legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.
This article was written by and represents the views of our contributing advisors and not of Kiplinger's editorial staff. To check your advisor's records, SEC or together finra.