Financial planning is one of those things my husband and I do about twice a year. And it’s not really planning as much as it is sitting down and taking our financial pulse. Back in Boston we had a financial planner we liked and he would come to the house about once a year to sort of “check in.” This meeting usually involved me sitting there, listening, while he and Mike talked about stocks, bonds, 529s, life insurance and the like. I filled the water glasses.
It’s not that I wasn’t interested, it’s just in the vain of equally shared parenting, finances fall on his side of the equation. I shop for groceries, he pays the bill. I shop for clothes, he complains about what I spend. This is just how it works.
But since coming to New York, we haven’t had a single meeting with our advisor. Or the lawyer who drew up our wills and health care proxies years back. It occurred to us that we should probably look for someone local. So this morning we had our first meeting and it felt a little, well, embarrassing. It’s not every day you put all your debts and savings and salary info on the table for strangers.
By the time we were done I told the woman, “I’m a size 6 and like to shop at Banana Republic and J Crew. Anything else you want to know?”
But going through this exercise proved to be very eye-opening. They asked us questions I haven’t really thought much about like: How do you feel about financing your kids’ college educations? Will you do it for them or will they take loans? What about your parents or other family members you may have to take care of? What kind of income do you want to have should one of you die young? What kinds of insurance do you have: long-term care, disability, life and how much?
We thought about a lot of this when our boys were babies, but much has changed for us since then. And the meeting today reminded me just how much.
So while it felt like a cross between a counseling session and a gynecological exam, I’m glad we went. Sitting with my husband and talking about our 5, 10, and 15-year goals was somewhat reassuring.
The good news: we’re on the same path and looking forward to a time when we are less busy, the kids are in college and we’re able to enjoy the next phase of life together. The reality: we’ve got a way to go to get there.