Financial couples counseling in L.A.?
January 14, 2008 8:55 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a financial (not debt/credit) counselor in Los Angeles area for a couple with different financial approaches/backgrounds.

So, my SO and I are settling down. We have a great relationship. we're on the same page about virtually all of the big issues - except for figuring out a compatible approach to finances.

Our main problem is not debt. We are each on track to pay down the last of our individual CC debt over the next year or so. Neither of us has any other debt (we rent our place and don't have car loans). We both have great credit.

One of us has a middle-class background, went to college (took out and eventually paid off their student loans), tends to be a saver, works a career-oriented day job with benefits/retirement plan, etc., and expects to set up a college savings plan for any future children.

One of us has a working-class background, did not go to college, tends to be a spender, and has only worked service jobs to support their creative/freelance endeavors (so income varies by month). Recently opned an IRA at the other's urging, but having a hard time funding it. Doesn't think a college savings account is necessary.

We would like to work through these issues sooner rather than later - i.e., before merging bank accounts and getting married, and certainly before a baby's on the way. (We're in our mid-late 30s, so that will likely happen sooner rather than later.)

Again, debt/credit isn't really the issue. Our main questions are about budgeting/saving (hard to do when one partner's income varies every month) and setting goals, given our different backgrounds, expectations, and need for financial security.

We would like to find a financial counselor who specializes in working with couples on issues like this - not so much a general couples counselor who might just recommend a book to read or tell us to communicate better (we communicate just fine - what we don't know is how to solve the problem practically). Any recommendations??
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Hmmmm... Those finance guys always seem to be selling something. Debt guys sell debt consolidation, mutual fund guys sell mutual funds, etc..

If you don't have any kind of college savings plan, your children will be at a serious disadvantage vs kids from similar backgrounds who have money to draw on. Keep in mind that the plan may end up paying for helicopter pilot training or something other than college. What it really is, it's a plan for being able to make sure your kids can afford to be trained to do what they love to do for a living.

I make video games. I couldn't do that if my parents hadn't helped me through college. I would still love games, but I would be a cab driver or something instead.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 9:09 PM on January 14, 2008

I apologize if I misinterpret, anonymous, but can we, the readers, assume that you are the one who went to college, has a definite or expected income, and wants to set up the savings account for the future kids that you and he/she make? I understand that posting anonymously makes it difficult to respond--I'm trying to circumvent a free-for-all in responses based upon education/class/gender.

(Personally, I am a mix of your scenario, divorced from the worst-case scenario, about to meld with another mixed-scenario individual who has his shit together. We are saving, planning, and, eventually investing/building our business for ourselves and our children.)
posted by bonobo at 9:31 PM on January 14, 2008

I had a meeting with my financial advisor today. We were talking about your exact situation - one person being a saver and one being a spender, and he told me that MOST of his clients are like that... he rarely comes across two spenders or two savers. (I am single, so he wasn't trying to convince me that he was an expert in my situation or anything.)

Point is - I'm not sure you need someone specialized in dealing with your situation, because it's not that unique. Financial advisors are going to advise you save/invest as much money as you reasonably can. That's their job. Either you are willing to do it, or you're not.
posted by clh at 9:57 PM on January 14, 2008

First of all, go you for realizing your different approaches to money and looking to head trouble off at the pass BEFORE you marry and have kids.

The way I see it you need a combination of financial planner and premarital counselor. If you belong to a church, some kind of pastoral counseling might be the right thing - many churches offer both premarital counseling and financial advise; you could get someone who could roll both into one.

Other than that, what you might want to do is visit a financial planner (together), and then find someone else who has a problem-solving, communication approach to premarital counseling.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:04 PM on January 14, 2008

clh: I see you're in the LA area. The OP might be interested in whichever financial adviser you spoke with.
posted by philomathoholic at 11:36 PM on January 14, 2008

There are money therapists out there. You might call the financial planners in the area to ask for recommendations. Or, like clh says, a regular old financial planner might do the trick.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:04 AM on January 15, 2008

My money guy.
posted by clh at 11:50 AM on January 15, 2008

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