A great memory I have of my grandparents is that they loved to dance. I always looked forward to weddings because I would get to see them dancing and truly enjoying themselves. My grandpa was a graceful dancer and it was an honor to get to dance with him. He had a knack for making his dance partner look like a professional!
Our family celebrated my grandparents' milestone anniversaries. I recall a fish boil, at the home of my Uncle Bob and Aunt Ruth, which must have been my grandparents' 40th. There was another party at the "Four Forty West" restaurant in Manistee. The big one...their 50th Wedding Anniversary was at the Manistee Civic Club and we danced all night!
I love reading anniversary announcements; Silver (25 Years), Gold (50 Years), and Diamond (60 Years). Even if I don't know the couple, I get emotional. Twenty five, fifty, sixty years...that is a LONG time to be married to the same person. Invite your community to celebrate with you as they read your announcement; online or in the paper, it doesn't matter. Just make the announcement!
In less than 3 years my parents will be celebrating their 50th anniversary. They've been blessed with daughters who like to plan and we've already started. We suggested a party, a cruise, or renting a houseboat on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. Once the plan is decided we'll need a checklist. Below is a checklist for you and your spouse as you approach your next milestone.
5 Things To Do With Your Spouse Everytime You Celebrate A Milestone Anniversary
1. Reminisce About The Past
Take a walk down memory lane. Where did you meet?
I met my husband, Ryan, on May 8, 2010 at Jack's in Spring Lake.
What did you enjoy most about your wedding?
We were married at our home in front of our fireplace. I loved that!
How many years have you been married?
We just celebrated our 5th Anniversary with a trip to Mexico!
What are you most proud of in your marriage?
Staying married (LOL)! Seriously...I'm proud of our growth as a couple and what we've accomplished together.
We continue to create the life we want to live.
How has your love grown over the years?
The longer we are together, the more I realize how we balance each other.
We are yin and yang. I love him for being my counterpart.
2. Dream About Your Future
What’s ahead for you as a couple? Find out by scheduling a time to talk with each other. Like you tell the kids...."turn off the electronics"...Go on a date, go for a walk, sit at the beach. Do something together where you can talk and dream like you used to do. If you haven't engaged in much conversation or sharing of dreams, why wait? You could go on a vacation or try a new hobby or activity.
Speaking of dreams. It's never too late to have dreams. If you have a bucket list (you know...the list of all of the things you want to do before you "kick the bucket") share it with your spouse. Ask for his/her support in checking things off of your list. Do you have a shared bucket list? Why not create one? Isn't it fun and rewarding to work toward your shared goals as a couple?
Accomplishing goals requires planning and commitment; together you act with intention pertaining to your goal. You already know that, which is why you're celebrating your milestone anniversary. To what accomplishment will you make a toast 10 years from now?
3. Seek Wise Counsel
Pertaining to matters like your money, it is wise to educate yourself so that you are equipped to make informed decisions. Chances are you received counsel (formally or informally) before you tied-the-knot. During the course of your marriage, you've likely given advice to other couples. We can all benefit from the wisdom of someone who has the advantage of experience. There are a few areas of your life where you should rely upon the experience of a professional rather than a friend.
- Financial Planning
- Legal Planning
- Tax Planning
- Charitable Planning
A lot can happen in a year. Laws change, you change, your family can change...your financial, legal, and tax planning should be based on your current facts and goals.
Meeting with your financial planner should be done at a minimum, at least once a year; more frequently if your situation is complex. When was the last time you met with your planner? Does your financial plan reflect your most recent goals? If it's been several years since you've updated your plan, OR if you don't have a financial plan, now is the time.
Find out if you are on track to meet your goals. Coordinate with your tax and legal advisors in the planning process.
If you don't have a financial plan or if it's been several years, I recommend that you start with a review of your income and expenses prior to meeting with your financial planner. Your planner will need that information for your plan. You may as well get it together before your planning appointment.
You should expect your comprehensive financial plan to be based on your unique situation and goals. The planning process should provide guidance on actions you should take like, increasing your retirement savings, doing a Roth IRA conversion, getting additional life insurance, reducing risk in your investment portfolio, or retiring early, for example. It should also create awareness around circumstances that may be out of your control: inflation, increased taxes, or health events.
If you think that financial planning is a good idea for someone else, but not for you, you may be right. Suggested reading: 7 Reasons That Financial Planning Isn't Going To Work.
Regular review of your legal documents is just as important as meeting with your financial planner. I suggest that you pull out your estate plan annually on New Year's Day for a read-through. You'll have plenty of time...the parades don't last all day and the games don't start until the afternoon.
If it's been more than 3 years since you reviewed your estate plan with your estate planning attorney, OR if you don't have an estate plan, now is the time.
A simple will isn't enough. Make sure you get a Patient Advocate and Power of Attorney. Your attorney will advise you as to whether or not you need a trust.
If you have a child in college, legal planning is in order for them as much as it is for you.
By default most tax filing Americans put some thought into their tax situation each year on or before April 15th. I've yet to meet an individual who would like to pay more in taxes than he/she is required to pay. Therefore, in an effort to pay as little as possible, tax professionals are called upon for their expertise, most heavily from January through mid-April.
Circumstances surrounding your business(es), rental(s), inheritance, etc., may warrant more frequent planning conversations with your tax professional. Waiting until April 14th is not advised. Plan ahead.
Perhaps you would prefer to celebrate by making a charitable contribution to your church or favorite charity. Your gift will be highly appreciated by the receiving organization. You may even get a pew or building named after you!
If your gift is significant and you want to avoid drawing attention, make an anonymous gift (you'll still get the tax deduction if you plan correctly). Also, consult with your advisors so that the asset you give makes the most sense for your situation. It may be prudent to give shares of a security, land, or vehicle. Based on when you intend to give, you may want to establish a trust for giving during your lifetime, upon your passing, or a combination.
4. Hold A Family Meeting
Conflict during crisis can be reduced or avoided, by keeping everyone informed of your desires during your time of good health. I advise my clients to hold a family meeting after they've made any significant changes in their financial or estate plans.
A family meeting doesn't have to be long and drawn out if you plan ahead. Just be clear about your intentions and wishes. Give them an opportunity to ask questions and receive clarification while everyone is calm and level-headed.
Make sure your family knows the location of your important documents and items. They should know not only the the location, but also what those documents instruct them to do and who they'll need to contact. Your family will appreciate the thought you put into these matters.
You've been to plenty of weddings. Tens of thousands of dollars were spent on many of those weddings, yet the marriages didn't last. Divorce is rampant in the U.S. What kind of marriage and divorce statistics would we have if we celebrated milestone anniversaries in a bigger way than we do weddings? I propose that we start out with small wedding celebrations and every 10 years the celebration gets larger and more elaborate. Each decade of marriage should be celebrated. Just a thought to ponder...
Your legacy is so much more than the inheritance you leave your family; it is the celebrations and special memories of which you've been included. When you take the time to plan for your future or share a meaningful conversation with your family you're building your legacy. Dance with your grandchildren, reminisce and dream with your spouse, and celebrate your milestone anniversaries.
Congratulations and Cheers!
Melissa Myers, CFP®
Melissa is a goal driven wife, mother, business owner and CFP® professional. She would love to meet you and learn what your best financial decision has been as a married couple. She'll be accepting 10 new financial planning clients this year. Call or email Melissa at (231) 733-1166 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.