Falling Apart vs Drifting Apart

by | Jun 1, 2023

I read a recent headline: Marriages don’t fall apart, they drift apart. I am not a marriage counselor but I serve as a money counselor so my brain immediately went to the fact that the same can be said of our money life. Our finances rarely fall apart overnight, it is usually a gradual drifting and often from a lack of proactive actions.

Tis the Season

Take this time of year, for example. It’s graduation season, wedding season, and travel season. Are graduates from high school armed with the tools they need to get started on the right financial footing? Only 17 of our states make personal finance a high school graduation requirement, which is why I wrote this important checklist for high schoolers.

Are newly married couples, no matter what their age, on the same page with their finances? Money is still one of the top reasons for divorce and one in four divorces are now in couples over the age of 50. Again, I felt compelled to write an essential financial checklist for before/after marriage.

AND did you know that May and June are the most popular months for drafting estate planning documents? The realization that summer travel may have some risks often motivates our brain to get that task completed!

Intentional Drifting

All of these statistics evolve over time, which is good news. That means a money mess can be prevented over time as well! We don’t have to learn and accomplish everything immediately. We can chip away at gradually moving money in the right direction. It’s a matter of being intentional and consistent with our drifting.

In my experience helping women over the past 20 years, I am a firm believer in the value of understanding where you are first, then assessing where you need to go, and finally realistically breaking down your “fix it” plan into small, doable next steps.

Where Are You?

So how do you start understanding where you are first? One of the most common estate planning mistakes is not having an “asset list.” I have the perfect asset list tool that helps you compile what you own and what you owe. That not only helps you understand where you are, but it also doubles as the helpful TO DO checklist if you end up in the hospital and someone needs to step in to help, or after you are gone to help your grieving family.

Where Do You Need to Go?

Next, the Financial Awareness Foundation has a wonderful “where am I now” starting point, to help you see where you need to go next called a “Financial Checkup Quiz.” A free personal survey where you answer Yes or No to 20 questions so you can quickly see which areas you may want to prioritize.

The Fix It Plan

Now for the part about breaking down the doable, small steps, into a realistic “fix it” plan. The best solution I have found is another free, downloadable, fillable pdf tool from the Financial Awareness Foundation called Financial Planning Calendar. It’s important you to check it out. You can use it over and over each year plus fill in the blanks to tailor your money life checklist to whatever you are working on in addition to the prefilled areas that correspond with that great 20-question survey.

Brain Science

Remember the brain science behind writing this stuff down. Our goal of enjoying less worry and more life when it comes to money (at least that’s my goal for you!), is 40% more likely if we write these things down. Physiologically, electrical signals flow through every cell in our body to our brain when we engage our mind in thinking about these goals (the imaginative right side of our brain) and then our body in writing them down (the literal left side of our brain).

The Travel Trick

And don’t forget this travel trick if you have any estate planning tasks. Put a trip on the calendar and your brain will magically prioritize getting those documents drafted, updated, reviewed, etc. before you leave. Hence the reason May and June are the most common months estate plan documents are drafted.

I challenge you to help your money life drift in the right direction. If not now, when!?! (At least write the date on your Financial Planning Calendar if not now)

What have you found helpful to get motivated to learn more or take action on money-related tasks? Any words of encouragement for each other on the challenges of destressing our money life? Let’s have a conversation!

Marie Burns is a Certified Financial Planner, Speaker, and Author of the bestselling Financial Checklist books. Find Marie on Facebook or contact her at [email protected]

This article was first published at 60 and Me – a community that helps women over 60 live happy, healthy and financially secure lives.