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Marriage, Money, and Alignment: As all of us who are married have learned, being on the “same page” is vital to long-lasting, flourishing marriages. There are few other places where this could be as powerfully lived out as in the area of our financial affairs. As I recently shared on the Marriage Therapy Radio podcast, we, as a team of advisors, are committed to protecting and promoting alignment where it matters most in marriages. If you have yet to give that a listen, click here and perhaps get a more fully formed telling of where we’re coming from on this idea of being better aligned.

We certainly see the same principle of alignment, or the lack thereof, in businesses that we get to know well over time. The consequences, both inside and outside marriage, are well documented when there is a lack of alignment. So, how do we even know if alignment is present in money? How do we even define alignment? And for today, how might we start a conversation on this front?

Here are a few questions to help you both diagnose where you are as well as get out of the blocks on this idea of being aligned:

How do I know if my spouse and I are aligned? 

  1. Do we make our decisions about important financial matters together?
  2. Do we as individuals understand what we really, truly value related to the use of money?
  3. Have we ever shared that list with one another?
  4. Are we aware of differences or outright areas of disagreement related to money?
  5. Are we willing to talk about it with one another OR with a trusted third party?

How could we become better aligned than we are today?

Take the needed time alone, apart from one another, to detail your financial values.

  1. When understood in their most simplistic form, what qualities do you each want to mark your ongoing relationship with your financial behaviors (i.e. giving, saving, spending, investing, etc.)?
  2. Set aside a time and place to share your thoughts on where you are in light of the above alignment questions.
  3. Share what you value with one another without needing to reconcile the differences between you.
  4. Consider getting a third party to work through this exercise with you.
  5. Document what you agree are the fundamental values and resulting applications you agree should serve as the foundation of HOW you relate to finances as a couple and perhaps as a family.
  6. Consider sharing the resulting framework with your children.
  7. Revisit this annually, edit and adjust as needed, and repeat as often as you might notice a drift away from what you believe to be true flourishing as a family.

Unsurprisingly, we’d be honored to serve in any capacity you think is needed. We’d also welcome anything you’ve discovered in this process, as we learn most of our best thinking here from you, our clients, and our friends.

Keeping an Eye on the Stock Market: This week stocks ended mostly lower. Consumer staples and real estate led the S&P 500 Index. First quarter earnings have been met with a mixed reaction from market participants. Communication services, the top performing sector year to date, was this week’s leading detractor. Energy, which has been a top performer for three weeks straight on firmer crude oil prices, lagged the S&P 500 Index amid this week’s pullback in West Texas Intermediate crude oil. Financials had a positive showing for the second straight week.

For All Those College Graduates: As we near the start of college graduation season, we predict the top question asked at all of those parties and family gatherings being, “So, what’s next?” or “Do you have a job?” It’s a weird time to enter the job market. The U.S. employment rate is at a 50-year low at the same time that waves of layoffs, hiring freezes and recession warnings continue. For those still on the job hunt, Indeed analyzed entry-level roles listed on its platform paying an average salary of more than $40,000 to identify those with the strongest demand.

Congratulations to the graduates and their parents! We hope you have success with finding a job.

Business Briefing 

  • Debt Ceiling Proposal: On Wednesday, House Republican leaders introduced their plan to raise the debt limit in exchange for federal spending cuts. The bill, called the Limit, Save, Grow Act, would keep discretionary spending levels in the next year at 2022 levels, and cap spending growth at 1 percent annually, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said. The GOP plan would raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion or until March 31, 2024, whichever comes first. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Home Prices Fell: The median U.S. home price fell 3.3 percent to $400,528 in March, the biggest annual decline since 2012, real-estate brokerage Redfin reported this week. The decline came as high mortgage rates, which have increased as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to fight high inflation, have forced many buyers out of the market. (Redfin)

Help with Medical Debt: If you happen to be among the millions of Americans carrying medical debt, this might be for you. NPR hosts a show called “Life Kit” and they recently published an episode with tips about handling and negotiating medical debt. It’s full of good tips and thoughts that we thought were worth passing along. Watch the full episode here.