We are thrilled to have Brea Hutchinson of Hutchinson Financial on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! this week. She is an incredibly experienced financial planner and a dear friend of ours, so it’s been really fun to work on this interview. In fact, Brea and Sara grew up together as kids! This is really a full circle moment for all of us. On this week’s episode, Brea is talking about building a financial plan before your wedding for your new life together. It’s not as fun as picking out flowers – or finding the perfect gown – but, it’s important for you, your soon-to-be-spouse and your life together. Let’s dive into her tips for financial planning for newly engaged couples!
My name is Bria Hutchinson and I own Hutchinson Financial. We’re located in West Warwick, Rhode Island, serving Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and many more states actually. I have clients that move everywhere and we follow them, helping them with their financial journey wherever they go – which I love. I can’t believe I’ve been in the business for 18 years, but it’s true. My background is in finance and I have a MBA. When I’m working, I help clients plan financially, establish financial goals, create a plan and be able to accomplish those goals and ultimately build wealth over the time of their life.
How important is it for you to be fully transparent about your money to your future spouse before marriage?
Honestly, I think it’s super important. People grow up differently and look at money differently, so it’s important to sit down and talk about how you each relate to money. When you sit down to talk about your backgrounds financially, take the time to discuss your financial goals, too. Discuss whether or not you want to own a house, have children – and possibly save for their education. It’s easy to get caught up in these things later on, but if you sit down and talk about it early, you can avoid so many future arguments because you never talked about your plans before. I’m not saying you should cancel your wedding if you haven’t discussed these things, but being able to be open and honest about them from the start can save a lot of heartache and frustration later.
Your financial conversations shouldn’t just be about the future, though. You also need to discuss your current financial obligations like debt and loans. The key is really just about being transparent with your soon-to-be-spouse about what’s going on, what your plan is, and how that will impact you both. Honestly, consider talking to a financial advisor before you say “I do” so that you can really start your marriage off on the right foot, financially speaking.
I also want to point out that this conversation doesn’t have to be negative. Learn what your partner’s strengths are when it comes to money and lean into those. Maybe one of you is great with budgeting and the other understands investments. Use that to your advantage!
Do you think newly married couples should co-mingle their finances? What are the pros and cons of both decisions?
So, this is a really personal decision. When I first started out 18 years ago, no one kept their finances separately. Nowadays, there’s a different trend where married couples are keeping their finances separate. I think there’s a lot of reasons for that – sometimes one is more in debt than the other, or they want to keep their income to themselves for a reason. It doesn’t really matter why because it’s a personal choice. Personally, I think planning is easier when your funds are co-mingled. Think about it: are you going to go to your spouse and say you owe me $20 for the rake I just bought since it’s for the house? What about when you have kids, how will you split expenses? I think it’s just easier to approach a household from one account.
But, the downside of that is that sometimes arguments creep up about how spending is going. So, what I recommend is that you manage your finances together and co-mingle the funds. Make sure to put both of your names on the accounts in case anything ever happened to either of you (it gets complicated otherwise!). You can also each have a savings or checking account where you place money each month that’s “yours” for fun things, or to save up individually. But that’s totally up to you!
It all just comes down to how you want to handle things. Just remember, keeping money separate can sound great but it may impact things down the road like retirement. What if you put away 10% of your money each month for retirement and have less disposable cash but your partner puts nothing into retirement and spends their cash? That will impact you both down the line when only one of you can retire. Things like that are important to discuss, and another reason a financial advisor can be helpful!
What are your key pieces of financial advice for newly engaged couples or newlyweds?
My biggest piece of advice is to be transparent: don’t hide anything when it comes to your finances. The second thing is to plan together for the future. Sit down (with an advisor or not) and plan for your future. It will be nice to have something to tackle together as a married couple. Finally, be deliberate with your planning. Set a time each month that you sit down and review everything together, so you know what’s going on. If you do have a planner, sometimes it’s nice to have a third party to help review your finances – they can help remind you that you’ve planned for these things and yes, you can take that trip. Or yes, you can buy that house.
How can couples find a financial planner that’s a good fit for them?
I have a couple of tips I can give you when looking for a financial advisor! First, it’s always great to get a referral. Talk to someone who has a financial planner and loves who they work with. Second, do a FINRA Broker Check (it’s on google!). You can put in the planner’s name and see how long the’ve been in business, where they’re registered, if they’ve had any complaints, and if their license is current. You also want to be sure whoever you’re working with has a Series Seven license – this means they can offer you the full range of financial investment options. Finally, check how long the planner has been in business. I’ve learned most of what I have on the job. It’s not to say you shouldn’t work with a new planner, but check that someone senior is overseeing their work!
What does a financial planner actually cost?
I’ll start by saying that we get paid two different ways. Financial advisors either charge a fee for our planning (a one time fee) or do something like advice planning, where you’re paid monthly and available for questions. The other way we’re paid is through the management of funds. That means if a client has an IRA, a 529 or something like that, we’re paid part of the internal fees that come with those funds.
Wrap Up Question!
What are some key points that couples should be asking financial planners when they are inquiring to make sure they are working with a professional company to insure that their financial future is well planned and mapped out for success?
Ask about fees. Find out what they charge for services upfront, and make sure you know exactly what they’re helping with.
Make sure they’re an independent advisor so they can really work with any company and find you the best opportunities.
Read about your potential advisor and find out about their background. Not just where they studied but their work history. Are they staying with one firm for awhile or moving around a lot?
Links Mentioned in the Episode
You can subscribe to this podcast from wherever you’re listening so you never miss an episode. And, we would so appreciate it if you left a fabulous review for our show on Apple podcast! Even better, share it with a friend. It’s a great way to show your support and let us know what you think. Thank you so much for listening!