When Financial Planning Works As Financial Therapy

Dec 08, 2022

When it comes to your financial life with your spouse, there are many moving pieces. By the time you hit your 40’s and 50’s, just managing the budget and setting aside a little money is not cutting it. Working with your partner on your shared finances and other responsibilities likely feels more like a chore than a delight. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. 


I see the financial planning process as part of financial therapy. Financial therapy helps us navigate the various thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and relationship dynamics we experience related to money. Financial planning gives us a defined structure for looking at your whole financial life and seeing how each of the different parts works together or against each other in your life. 


The Whole is Greater Than The Sum of The Parts


Being able to get your whole financial life together and in one place creates an opportunity for the two of you to see each of the different parts of your financial life and how they all come together. You can think about it like a well-made pizza. Each ingredient for the pizza comes together to make the tasty pizza you love. 


Yet we seldom slow down long enough to check on our financial pizza and ensure all ingredients are well placed and balanced and that the pizza is cooking to perfection. Yet this is the process of financial planning. 

When you see all your financial life pulled together in one place and check on each of the financial ingredients to make sure they are actually what you want them to be, you have a much better chance of having a financial pizza you enjoy. 


The great news is that you can continue to experiment with different flavor profiles until you find the financial pizza that suits the two of you best. Likely your taste preferences have changed over time, and so should your financial preferences. You have not done anything wrong if things have changed, it just means it’s time to update the ingredients on your financial pizza. 


Finding Balance Between Rigidity and Chaos

Financial planning as a form of financial therapy can help the two of you find the zone of financial balance that works well for the two of you. Financial balance is the zone of flourishing financially between financial rigidity and financial chaos. Our approach to money makes a difference. 


Some common examples of financial rigidity 

We will never be able to afford…

You always spend too much on…

He have to save more money for…


Some common examples of financial chaos

I have no idea what’s happening financially…

I wouldn’t know where to begin financially…

I don’t have any say in what happens…


When we take time to put together a financial plan, we can find the middle financial balance between financial rigidity and chaos. A comprehensive financial plan gives us a hub for knowing objectively what our finances look like. The goal being as a  couple to be get get on the financial scale and look in the financial mirror together. 


Some examples of financial flexibility

We can’t currently afford… as we have some retirement savings goals we are working on.

We value spending money on…we know it is higher than average, but it is important to us, and we are comfortable with the tradeoffs.

We don’t have to keep everything top of mind financially, we both know we can find current and accurate information when needed. 

We see our finances as a shared responsibility of knowledge and awareness.

We are focused on living the life we want now and the one we imagine we would like to have in the future. 


Creating A Shared Vision 

Financial planning is a commitment to your shared future together that will need money to support your vision. You work on and are open to continuing to work on your relationship health so that you can see a shared future together. 


When you accomplish life, family, or financial goals, you mutually support each other in identifying new goals you want to work on together. You make sure to slow down and celebrate the accomplishments you individually and collectively achieved. 


Being engaged in an ongoing financial planning process allows you the space and time to tend to your relationship and money. Thriving couples have a financial planning process in place to ensure they are working on their shared vision as a couple. 


I often work with couples where their vision for their finances is still heavily colored by what their parents taught them about money and yet no longer works for them as adults and perhaps never even actually worked for their parents. Learning to recognize whether you are living your own vision with your partner for your shared financial life or the one your parents cast for you is a critical step toward developing a healthy relationship with money. 


I like to reframe financial planning meetings as couples’ financial retreats, where couples spend time working on themselves, each other, their family, and their finances. It is, for some, a sacred experience, for others, it is a form of self-care, for others, it is about caring for the next generation.


Financial Planning as Financial Therapy


The intention of financial therapy is to help you and your partner to heal what hurts and has gone unaddressed within you and between the two of you about money. During financial therapy, many things may change, including you, your partner, your intimate relationship, what you do with your money, and how you decide what to do with your money. 


The financial planning process intentionally gives you a space to look at your current objective financial reality so that you can review, reflect and integrate what your financial life actually looks like now. Financial planning shows you how the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Using this information, you can identify where you have places of rigidity and chaos in your financial life that need to be addressed. Leading to your shared ability to create a vision for how you would like your life to look. 

If you are ready to know more about how this vision of financial planning can help you, schedule your free 30-minute discovery call here.

Wishing You Healthy Love & Money,

Ed Coambs



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