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Getting Spouses to Open Up Is a Key Part of Financial Planning for Couples –


When couples first come to see Bruce Helmer of Wealth Enhancement Group in Minneapolis, he often hands them a deck of cards. Each card has a value written on it, such as family, spirituality, or adventure, and he asks each spouse to narrow down the 50-card deck to the 15 that mean the most to them. Eventually they must whittle down their choices to 10 and then five. At that point, they reveal their hands.

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The outcomes are often surprising to the pairs, who may never have known, for example, that a spouse had dreams of climbing Mount Everest or starting a nonprofit. It also points to one of the biggest challenges in financial planning: Getting couples to sit down and articulate what is most important to them.

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