Merging Hearts, Merging Wallets – Mark Dutram
It’s romantic to move in together, at any age. Less romantic is merging your finances, especially if you are more financially established. A financial planner can help avoid bumps in the road when dealing with the delicate subject of how to move forward financially.
“Money never gets discussed until something bad happens,” said Mark Dutram, certified financial planner and wealth advisor with BayView Private Wealth in Destin, FL, and an Ambassador for StrongHer$. Inspired by the challenges faced by his divorced mom raising 5 children, Dutram’s practice has a special focus on women.
Facing the subject of finances is almost unavoidable, as a study by Ramsey Solutions found that 2/3 of all marriages start off in debt. Furthermore, the discussion can be a minefield, as money fights are the second leading cause of divorce, also according to the study.
How should new couples start merging their financial lives? And especially, how can women become more engaged in family financial management?
“It takes communication, planning, education and transparency,” said Dutram. “Start with a neutral party – a financial advisor who is objective and can help with the tough stuff.”
What your advisor does:
- Sets the stage for financial harmony. “Sometimes an advisor is a referee. You’re helping couples unify their goals and philosophies with regards to money and helping them understand each other’s biases and predispositions to their views on money,” Dutram said. “You can shine a light on people’s behaviors around spending, saving and planning.”
- Integrates the myriad aspects of the couple’s financial picture as they join their households. The advisor will look, for example, at tax implications of student loans or titling of deeds, accounts, or estate documents. He or she will also help the couple navigate estate planning, taxes, asset protection, investments, retirement planning, ongoing budgeting and forecasting and more.
- Brings the parties together to collaboratively create a budget and a financial plan. The advisor guides them through what can be a tedious but necessary task – and keeps the peace between them.
“Many people know what they need to do to manage their finances, but say, ‘I don’t have the time, interest, or capacity, to handle this. I need somebody walking beside me as an advocate to help me avoid any landmines or blind spots.’ That’s where we come in,” Dutram said.
Ramsey Solutions, “Money, Marriage and Communication”, April 28, 2021