Lily is the matriarch of her family. She’s happily in charge of the home and family matters, but she’s always been a bystander in the family finances. After all, Bill works at a large money management firm with a spreadsheet for everything and an opinion on most things. She wasn’t sure what she could add to any financial discussion, and, quite frankly, she found it boring and intimidating.
When Lily and Bill’s Prio advisor finally convinced them both to join us for a different kind of meeting, they were intrigued by the set of colorful cards on the table. We explained that this simple yet empowering exercise would help them understand how they feel about money and what really matters to them both as individuals and as a couple. Lily and Bill were each given a stack of cards to prioritize. After they looked the cards over and had some questioning laughs, they each sorted their cards on the table to compare. We asked Bill to explain his priorities: making sure their money would last, being prepared for surprises, caring for other family members and maintaining health and wellness. He surprised us by explaining how his childhood experience worrying about where his next meal would come from drove him to protect his family and focus on the numbers – he had to feel in control. Lily’s priorities started with spending time with people she loves. Her story was about living life to its fullest, as her mother died at a young age. While in the past she may have resented how much time Bill spent at work and on his computer, THEY came to realize he thought he was showing his love by being a good provider.
Now that we shifted the conversation towards a discussion about life’s priorities, Lily became an enthusiastic and vocal participant. The prioritization exercise had established a new vocabulary and a framework for the couple to communicate with each other as well as with their young adult children. “I care about what we’re invested in, but I care more about what we’re investing for,” Lily commented. “Finally, we’re speaking my language. Let’s put a plan in place!”