images-7The secret of getting ahead is getting started. ~ M. Twain

Odd title for today’s piece, isn’t it? And yet, somehow very appropriate. A few days ago, I sat in my office as a client was talking about her beau; he’s nice, employed full time and as far as she knows, doesn’t have an arrest record. All good! And yet, here she was, sitting on the fence about this relationship. What prompted this? Her realization that his lack of retirement planning was a problem. No IRA, no pension, no 403(b). Nothing.

Financial problems are a major source of stress in any marriage, or long term committed relationship, which this one would be considered. That isn’t to say that you need to have unlimited funds in order to take the stress away ~ indeed more money often leads to more problems! ~ but having a better handle not only on what your financial habits are as well as those of your partner, will go a long way toward smoothing out some rough edges in your relationship.

The belief systems we have about the money we earn or are given, how we use credit, manage debt and yes, plan for retirement, are areas of communication I’d urge you to open with your partner sooner rather than later. As we discussed a few months ago, inherited wealth is often lost very quickly. Credit is earned, not a given. And our paychecks, whatever form they come in, are because we earned them in pursuit of being able to live our lives.

Now, let’s circle back to my client and the boyfriend without a retirement plan. What makes this a problem? Well, a few things, to be frank. To start with she has a retirement plan and a pension so her capacity to take care of her housing, medical and putting food on her table are likely pretty stable. Should she need to attend to a medical issue or move she will be able to do so. Her fear? That his lack of planning means if something comes up for him that doesn’t outright kill him (yep, let’s be that blunt) he will have no means to get the assistance he could require…and where does that leave her? Surely not in a very comfortable position.

And before you start to give me feedback about Social Security and Disability Insurance let’s take a quick but real look at those options. Social Security is great to cover some modest expenses but unless someone started out as a millionaire and has been paying taxes all along it is unlikely to cover much more than very basic bills. Medicare is great if you’re the correct age and don’t need coverage beyond the basics. Disability? Great stuff if you qualify, can afford to live while you wait to see if your case will be considered and accepted. You don’t want to be the person who had to wait nearly 2 years for his case to be approved and in that time not only went far into debt but also went on public assistance all the while living with his elderly parents.

Circling back a second time can you see how a partner or potential partner might see your lack of such planning as less than appealing? Does that help you in terms of getting a bit more motivated to save your money, come up with a plan and contribute regularly to your retirement plan if you’ve got one? I hope so! Think you’re too young to be paying into your retirement? Please stop reading right now and Google “compounding interest” before telling me you’re too young! Convinced yet to save? I hope so!

Here’s to wishing you a happy, savings filled week!

~ Lisa