Women's Retirement Radio

Adam Kol, The Couples Financial Coach - Helping Couples Find Financial Peace of Mind - Episode 32

September 20, 2021 Russ Thornton Season 2 Episode 16
Women's Retirement Radio
Adam Kol, The Couples Financial Coach - Helping Couples Find Financial Peace of Mind - Episode 32
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Women's Retirement Radio, I'm joined by Adam Kol, The Couples Financial Coach.

Adam is known as The Couples Financial Coach. He helps couples go from financial overwhelm or fighting to peace of mind, clarity, & teamwork.

He's also a Certified Mediator as well as a former attorney, and he has his own podcast (linked below)

For more on Adam and his Couples Coaching Services, please check out these resources:

Get in touch and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

And thank you for listening.

Visit my website to learn more.

Disclosures

Russ Thornton:
Hey, everyone. It's Russ Thornton and welcome to another episode of Women's Retirement Radio. Today, I'm excited to be joined by Adam Kol, The Couples Financial Coach. So, Adam, welcome.

Adam Kol:
Thank you so much for having me here, Russ.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, why don't we start Adam by you just telling folks a little bit about yourself.

Adam Kol:
Sure. So, I am a couples financial coach, which means, I help couples who love each other and have often otherwise great relationships, make sure that the money stuff doesn't get in the way, both on the practical and tactical side of things but also very importantly on the emotional and relational side of things, because money is one of the top stressors and a top cause unfortunately of divorce, and I bring a background as a certified mediator, a former financial advisor and a former tax attorney and a coach and I really love getting to do this work. It makes a huge different in my clients' lives and that lights me up and it's an area that is really important but tragically underdiscussed. So, it's a privilege to be able to be one of the people moving these conversations forward and putting them into the lime light.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, well, I appreciate you sharing that and I think there's a lot of interesting parts to that, we can definitely dig into in our conversation today but you refer to yourself as a coach but then you mentioned your background as an advisor, a tax attorney, a mediator, a professional coach. So, can you give us ... can you paint like a picture of what an engagement looks like with you and your client? Is it something that happens over a series of sessions? Is it an ongoing thing or is it just really dependent on the situation that the clients find themselves in?

Adam Kol:
Great question. So, I'll explain my programs by sharing what I found is really important for couples to connect and get on the same page and really be achieving their financial goals together. There are basically four steps. First is you have to have trust and safety around talking about money. Second is you need to understand where are you at, financially right now. Third is you need to be aware of what are my top goals, values, priorities and what's it going to take to achieve them. Then lastly, you have to take all of that and turn it into a plan and then of course, turn that plan into real life, right, by executing it on a yearly, monthly, daily basis. So, I think that all four of those parts are essential and they all tie into each other.

Adam Kol:
There's not a strict order for those, right? That's just to get people a general sense of the umbrellas that I see as important to be able to get on the same page with your partner and get financial clarity, and have peace of mind around your money and be working as a team with your significant other. So, my programs all cover all of that. They're all three months long because I think all of that content is really important and the three months is enough time to dive deeply and also let life happen because that's essential, right? These things don't get shifted just by reading about them or writing down an activity or watching video. It's in the actual doing of life and having conversations and navigating of financial situations.

Adam Kol:
Depending on which program, if clients have a program that involves having private coaching then I bring to bear as much of all that background as I can. Certainly, the mediator skills play a lot because this is an uncomfortable topic for people and I help them understand what's motivating their actions, their habits, their points of view and help them understand the same thing about their partner and help them communicate in healthier more effective ways but certainly, while I don't do financial advising for my client, I'm not offering any investment advice and while I'm not doing legal work for my clients, I'm not creating a new legal documents for them or advising them on law, tax or otherwise, of course, I bring that background, that lens, the knowledge about that to my work.

Adam Kol:
That's of course, is a benefit to my clients because we all encounter those kinds of areas, right? Nobody escapes the tax man. They try but they get caught eventually typically. Of course communicating about money is a challenge for so many couples. So, it's all really important and of course, the financial advising piece, which you can appreciate, Russ of just understanding how all the different pieces fit together to make sure that a family secures today and tomorrow.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, I'm honestly fascinated by all the facets that, go into the work you do, Adam. I mean, it just seems like it's so on one hand deep, as far as like the different layers that I'm sure you get into with both people individually and then as a couple, and I'm not sure there's just one, but if you had to characterize the biggest challenge that you help people address or solve through your work, what would you say that biggest challenge is?

Adam Kol:
At a broad level, it's getting out of our own way, right? Everybody grows up receiving a series of messages and seeing how money is handled by their family and in their community, and then when we try to merge our lives with someone else, including our finances, in some way or entirely, it just exponentially increases the complexity for us as humans. So, all of our typical desires to win arguments and be right or avoid conflict or to pout and get defensive and sulk, when someone hurts our feelings, to not tell the truth about how we're feeling to try and hide our emotions and pretend that something is okay, when it's not. All of those very, very, very human actions and habits, they show up here around money.

Adam Kol:
My job is to help couples stop seeing each other as an obstacle, right? Stop seeing each other as someone to fix or break or change and rather, how can these two people come closer together through working on their finances? How can this actually strengthen their relationship by understanding each other more deeply, and seeing each other's point of view more clearly and then also, within that, there's such a beautiful part of this where you get to play to your strengths, because typically, there's one person who's, let's say, more of a spender and one person who's more of a saver. I'm not a huge fan of catch all terms, but just for simplicity's sake, right? They have something to teach each other.

Adam Kol:
The saver teaches discipline to the spender and the spender teaches adventure and fun to the saver and together it can be, pun intended, a happy marriage.

Russ Thornton:
You mentioned, acknowledging the messages are the stories that people develop around money. In my experience, those start at a very early age. I've heard them referred to as money stories and money scripts and things of that nature. So it sounds like you acknowledge that in your work, but do you really dig into the past, like from a therapeutic standpoint or modality, or is it really more just like, let's acknowledge that, but then kind of look at where we are today and move forward? I mean, I guess I'm wanting to understand like, is there an element of therapy or is it really just more coaching and making better decisions based on better communication going forward or a little bit of both?

Adam Kol:
Your question is spot on. So I am not a psychotherapist. I'm not a licensed psychotherapist or mental health counselor, or social worker or anything like that, but certainly, the work does get deep and clients crying, hugging, otherwise embracing, tissue boxes. They are frequent guests on our calls and I see those as a beautiful thing, because people get to open up in a way that they often don't or they get to go to a place that often doesn't feel safe to go to, around money related issues. So we do dive into all of that and it's funny you asked this question Russ. You have really good instincts because when most financial coaches talk about money story or money scripts, they are trying to work with someone to bring awareness, and then to work on healing those parts of their money story that don't serve them at this point in time, right?

Adam Kol:
Maybe that involves some affirmations or some journaling or any other kind of activity. There's value in all of that. There are pieces of that in my work, but what I think is the biggest value for couples and talking about their experiences with money, and how money and identity intersect for them, and just their general points of view about money. I think the biggest benefit is that they understand themselves better and they understand their partners better. Especially if you're a couple where even the most basic money conversation has been uncomfortable tense, a struggle or even led to a fight by sharing these answers like how did your parents handle money growing up or how did your family handle money growing up, there's not really anything to argue about because you're just sharing your experiences with your partner.

Adam Kol:
That alone, just having a couple of conversations about that, that don't end in anxiety, discomfort or fighting can make an unbelievable difference, right? It will lay those building blocks of that trust and safety I spoke about before. So that is when ... in my work, that is the most valuable thing that I see come out of the conversation around are money stories. That said, along the way, while people are working on their awareness around their money story and then, confronting all of the uncomfortable things around money for them, whether that's conversations or looking at their credit card statement, or calling up their student loan servicer, while they're doing those things along the way, they are inevitably healing parts of themselves, that were hurt, for lack of a better word.

Adam Kol:
Parts that needed healing around their relationship with money. So that happens too and also, I think there's a huge value for couples in particular, because it helps them start talking about money in a way that is safe and yet, at the same time encourages you and your partner to open up to each other and learn to connect more deeply.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, hearing you describe it in those terms, it almost seems like you're introducing a new ... a new language might be a bit much but basically a new, I guess, perspective or a new angle with which to discuss money and how different people see it differently, think about it differently, react to it or feel about it differently. So I suspect ... not to oversimplify, I suspect that just creating a healthy environment for better communication seems to be a big piece of this. Certainly not all of it, but I think just based on people's unique histories or how they grew up with money, as you mentioned, I'm sure that people that, as you said, love each other and have been together for perhaps many years might just kind of have their own different internal dialogue or language around money. I mean, Would you say that's fair or is that a little bit too simplified?

Adam Kol:
Well, I definitely think it's fair and look, no matter how wonderful a match you are for your partner, or even how similar you might be, you're never going to be exactly the same person with exactly the same experiences, right? So understanding your partner more deeply is, for all intents and purposes, always a good thing, right? Especially when we're talking about some of these core foundational things that form the way we think about life and the world around us, and money is 100% one of those things, right? I mean, if you think about it, Russ, most of us are working 40 plus hours a week to earn money, right? So there's 48 plus hours a week that we're doing something that is money related.

Adam Kol:
We're paying bills, throughout the month. We are buying things probably almost every day. If not every day, so how many ... How much of your time and how many separate instances throughout your day, throughout your week, month, year are you dealing with money? So many, right? It's a ton, hours upon hours. Therefore, it can make a huge difference if you understand your own relationship with money, if you understand your partner's relationship with money. Yeah, I mean, I think you did a really good job of summarizing it. It's basically ... if I were to summarize, I'd say your money story is the sum of all of your experiences and the messaging you received around money, but put through the filter of you, right? How your brain interpreted all of those things.

Adam Kol:
Of course, that forms a lot of your ideas around money, including how you connect with your partner or in some cases, avoid or argue with your partner when it comes to finances.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Again, just I'm fascinated by the work you do and that's why I was so excited to have you on the podcast. So I'm thankful that we're having this conversation. What's a favorite client success story that comes to mind for you that you could maybe tell us a little bit about?

Adam Kol:
My goodness. Well, I'll tell you one and a half.

Russ Thornton:
Perfect.

Adam Kol:
The half is a client who ... the wife was the primary one pushing the husband to be more thoughtful and intentional around spending and more disciplined and just one moment in our calls where she said, "Adam, you've been able, in a few weeks, to get him to do what I've been trying to get him to do for 20 years." At some point, she just had this smile on her face that ... and they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? This smile was everything and so, I couldn't help it. I went and took a screenshot. I told her after, I said, "Is that okay with you if I took a screenshot. I can get rid of it." She said, "No, it's fine." It's so wonderful to see, right, the impact that helping people navigate their finances like you and I do, how big a difference it can make for them.

Adam Kol:
As far as the ... one, to accompany the half, I remember a client who came to me with serious conflict around money. Actually, the majority of my clients have healthy to very healthy relationships, and money just happens to be an area where there's a challenge, but this couple was struggling. I remember asking the wife, so what's going to happen in one, three, five years, if things stay the same, and nothing changes? She's sitting next to her husband. We're actually on Zoom talking. For the first time ever out loud, she says, "Honestly, if nothing changes in a few years, when the kids are a little older, I'm probably going to walk out."

Russ Thornton:
Holy cow.

Adam Kol:
Yeah. That was actually on a consultation call. They weren't even fully clients yet. That was obviously a heavy moment. I checked in with her, I checked in with her husband, see how it felt for him to hear that. See how it felt for her to share that. Within weeks, it was just a whole new ballgame for them. At some point during their coaching program, the wife says to me, "Adam, I was talking to one of my girlfriends the other day and I referred to my husband as my best friend." It just came out and she's having called him that in years and that honestly is one of my absolute favorite moments ever in running this business. I mean, the same client used to get three, $400 a month in bank fees and credit card fees.

Adam Kol:
As soon as they started working with me, that went to zero, right? They paid off $26,000 of debt while we were working together, and there were a number of other wonderful concrete outcomes, including the wife, really restoring her sense of self and confidence and restarting her business. That to me, was just like the crowning moment to go from, "If nothing changes, I'm going to walk out," to, "He's my best friend again."

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, I mean, I'm all struck by the enormity of just that one example and story. I'm sure you have many more but I mean, not only did you ultimately save them money and debt service and bank and credit card fees, but I don't think it's an understatement to say it sounds like you saved their relationship, which is fantastic. I mean, what a great outcome.

Adam Kol:
Yeah, it was incredible to be a part of that. Of course, they gave 110% to the program as well, right? That's important. As you know, we could sit here and share activities or share thoughts, or give suggestions or recommendations or share research or data, right? Ultimately, whether you're working with an advisor or a coach, or none of the above, it's got to be on you and by you, I mean, everybody, myself, and the rest of the people listening, we have to get an action, we have to actually go live life, try out these things in our day to day lives and in our relationship and that's where the magic really happens.

Russ Thornton:
I couldn't agree more. I mean, clearly get out of it, what you put into it and I think your work is ... there's maybe no better example than the work you're doing with couples. So what surprised you most about your work with couples, Adam?

Adam Kol:
Honestly, it was something I alluded to before. I thought when I started, that my bread and butter was going to be people who were in deep conflict around money. It turns out that most of the people who have worked with me, they have a strong relationship and money is maybe the only aspect where they struggle or it's one of a small number. Now, when we get into things with money, oftentimes, it reveals some other underlying issues, like some fears or some challenges around trust, or thinking about maybe one person's anxieties or both people's anxieties. So that stuff will show up as well, right? Typically, it's that, the people who seem most drawn to this work are those who are like, "You know what, we're pretty solid but money, we just don't know where to start, or we're just overwhelmed, or we feel anxious about it, or there's a little bit of tension in the air, or maybe we fought about it, So now we just try our best not to talk about it."

Adam Kol:
They come to this moment of realization, where they're like, "You know what, something's got to give, something's got to change. I am no longer willing to put up with the status quo," and that moment is where everything has the potential to change if you step up and lean into it.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Yeah, fantastic, and you and I having this conversation, it's July of 2021 and the last 12 to 15 months have been I think a little crazy for everyone with the pandemic, and just all the challenges that that has introduced into people's lives, including people working from home, and maybe juggling childcare and things like that. Has that really changed the nature of your work noticeably in the last year or so or has it been kind of business as usual, but there's been more interest, less interest. I'm just curious how your work with couples has evolved or if it has evolved in light of the COVID pandemic?

Adam Kol:
Great question. Certainly right off the bat, there were really high unemployment levels. So that alone is going to bring up additional challenges for people who are trying to meet their financial goals, right? The easiest way to save more money is to make more money and keep your expenses the same, of course, is the implied part of that. So that alone was significant. Another thing is that for a lot of couples, if they were working from home now, where maybe they weren't before, they're spending a lot more time together, and while for some couples that might have strengthen their relationship, for a lot of couples, that's a really significant challenge to be with someone that much. So, there are little tensions there. Then, certainly ... my clients probably don't like this, but I kind of enjoy it, is more kids around, right?

Adam Kol:
Since kids aren't able to go to school or they were going to school remotely over Zoom and the like, that meant that I got to see a lot more kids who would pop in and wave to me on the phone calls. I certainly always enjoy that aspect. For my clients, it's about realizing that, "You know what, that steady job I had, maybe it's not as steady as I thought." I think it's spurred a lot of people to consider, is the line of work I'm in the line of work I want to be in? Is the kind of company I'm working for the kind of company I want to be working for in the future? Especially when they are working with me, and understanding more deeply, where are we at financially and how are we going to achieve the goals we have, it opens up these conversations about, "Hey, I really want to go back to school and get a master's degree or I'm thinking about shifting to a new job, or perhaps aptly for your audiences, do I want to retire sooner?"

Adam Kol:
Maybe I haven't thought about it completely, or how am I going to get to that place, because you know what, it's a tough environment and I realized during COVID, that life can be short and I don't want to spend it working if there's a way that I don't have to. So, people are exploring a lot of those questions. So, yeah, I'm sure there's a whole host of other differences, but those are what come to mind.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, that's been my experience, largely been my experience as well. I think a lot of people have ... despite all of the challenges and issues with COVID itself, some of the ramifications, whether that's work or income or family time, I think it's really been a catalyst for reevaluation for a lot of people to really think about what's important and how am I spending my time and who am I spending it with? I think despite all of the negatives associated with COVID, I mean, I would consider a lot of those ... I would consider the opportunity to pause and reflect, or to kind of ... go through some self examination as a positive in the midst of an otherwise, negative situations. So it's interesting that you shared that. In and of itself, I think that's actually pretty cool that people were doing more of that.

Russ Thornton:
I would love to see people do that, more of that on an ongoing basis. It's unfortunate it took a global pandemic to stir some people to action, but I guess that's where we are right now.

Adam Kol:
Right. I mean, the pandemic, on the one hand, it shattered the certainty we thought we had, including with regards to our jobs and finances. For some people, the immediate response was to become more worried and more anxious about their financial situation. I think after a while, some people started to level with it, like, "You know what, so if really nothing is certain, if we can't really control anything, then maybe we should just go and try and do something that lights us up and brings us that fulfillment, and sense of purpose, whether that is a job and education or retirement or volunteer activities." Just let the chips fall where they may because those chips are gonna fall anyway, right? Whether it's in the form of the 2008 recession or what follows, September 11th, in terms of the economy or COVID, in terms of health in the economy, right?

Adam Kol:
The chips are going to fall where they're going to fall. So I think people realize, like, "Hey, maybe I want to do what I can to enjoy the ride."

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, and at the end of the day, we only get one trip around the proverbial Ferris wheel. So I think it makes a lot of sense for people to apply that thinking maybe more often than generally that is done but yeah. In your work, Adam, what's a strategy or a piece of advice that while certainly not going to be appropriate for everyone listening, you found to be particularly effective in helping with communication, money issues within relationships?

Adam Kol:
Yeah, there's so many, but one that comes to mind is just the importance of listening and making an effort to understand your partner and this works for most people, for most couples. However, if there's a situation where there's manipulation and financial abuse going on, in that case, trying to understand ... spending energy, trying to understand your partner's point of view, is maybe not the best piece of advice and that's not something within the scope of my business. I don't work on cases where there's financial abuse going on, but if you're listening and you find yourself in a situation that you think might be that, first of all, I recommend doing a Google search for it. There's some wonderful data out there and what I learned when I Googled it was that financial abuse, co-occurs in 99% of domestic abuse situations, because money is such an important lever of control in our lives and in our relationships.

Adam Kol:
So if you're struggling with that, try and find some resources and do what you can. You can always reach out to me as well, I have some connections to folks who know a bit about navigating that space, or some of them have personally experienced it, and are now financial coaches, for example. Aside from being in that kind of volatile, unhealthy situation, listening, trying to understand your partner's point of view and not to try and figure out if you agree with them or disagree with them, or if they're wrong, or if they're right, or if it's a good idea or a bad idea. Just to understand them. I mean, that's really a magical thing and we forget that. It doesn't always have to be like some sort of athletic competition in terms of like, our conversation with our partner.

Adam Kol:
It doesn't have to feel like aggressive and move quickly and figure it out and get to the end of the race. It's just an infinite process of improving ourselves and becoming closer with our partners, hopefully. I think, if you are willing to listen to what they have to say, when it comes to money, ask them questions. Be curious about why they think the way they think and why they do the things they do. That will always lead to strengthening your connection. The better connection you have, when it comes to money, the easier you can ... the more easily you can talk about it. That's going to make it so much easier to actually talk about your financial goals. Make a plan, execute on that plan. Deal with things when the plan goes awry, right, including holding each other accountable, right?

Adam Kol:
Holding each other accountable is kind of hard to do, if the other person doesn't think you care about their point of view around money, right? So then they overspend, you try and address it with them, it's not likely to go well, but if you are really doing that listening curiously, it's going to create that beautiful foundation so that there is enough trust and safety to navigate things when obstacles come your way.

Russ Thornton:
I think you gave the example earlier in our conversation that maybe asking your partner about what money was like when they were growing up or in their family. I mean, is that a good place to start?

Adam Kol:
Absolutely. I think it's a fantastic place to start, because that is often the locus of so much of this. I mean, I know even for me personally, I grew up with my mother and my father. My father talked to me a lot about money related stuff from a pretty young age, but my grandfather actually had a really big influence on me. I remember when I was a kid, he said, "You know, I want to teach you about money so that you don't make the same missteps that I did when I was younger." So what that meant for me, it was two things at the same time. Number one, I learned to be really money conscious and responsible, quote, unquote, with my money, right? I also learned and picked up on some of this extreme caution, and that translates to anxiety around money.

Adam Kol:
So it's like, "Oh, my God," the narrative sounds something like, "I better not make a foolish decision with my money. Otherwise, I'm stupid and I'm bad," right? So this happens at a young age. These were conversations well before age 10, right? I still feel those reverberations today where my fiance is like, "Oh, I need this piece of tech equipment," and I'm like, "Oh, yeah, I'd like one too." I just sit there thinking about it and I haven't even opened Amazon and she's like, "Okay, I just ordered one, it'll be here in two days. What?" She's able to cut through and go straight to it and make it happen. For me, it's like ... my default is to sit there and think about it, analyze, look for 100 deals and only then move forward, right?

Adam Kol:
So it's not that it's a bad attribute. It's actually a wonderful attribute in certain ways, right? There are moments where following her lead, and being willing to lean more into that ... go for it, spontaneity kind of mode, can be a value, but the reason I bring that up is because it illustrates how those early conversations, how they influence me, right? A lot of my clients really had a level of awareness about if their family struggled with money. It's amazing how even young children, they somehow get it. I don't know if it's context clues or if their parents talk about it in front of them or both, but here they are like little kids, four, five, six, seven years old, and they're picking up on that money is a struggle. That affects them profoundly down the line, including when they're ... in their relationship or marriage.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, so interesting, so interesting. This is Women's Retirement Radio, so everything we talk about kind of revolves around retirement as it relates to women. I'm curious, Adam, when you think about the word retirement, what comes to mind for you personally?

Adam Kol:
For me, it's about freedom of time and energy. The ability to spend it, doing the things that most matter to me at that point in time, which God willing, we'll be spending time with my children and maybe grandchildren and the rest of my family and good friends. Of course, I have to add in, because my fiance would get on my case, if she listened and didn't hear me say this, of course spending time with her, but for the two of us eating delicious vegan food together, which is our number one favorite pastime.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, I'm glad you included the fiance so we don't want you to get in hot water.

Adam Kol:
You see, Russ, it wasn't including her part as much because she knows she's part of the family, when I say family, it was that we ... in retirement, we're going to eat and cook and order all the different vegan foods that the world has to offer.

Russ Thornton:
Beautiful, beautiful. Yeah, well, I appreciate you sharing that. There's seems to be a common thread among my guests. When they talk about retirement, it's not like, they don't seem to anchor to a certain financial goal or number. It's really just about having freedom choice optionality, feeling like you're more in control, and if they want to work, or if they want to volunteer, or if they want to cook and eat vegan food. I think it's just having the flexibility and the choice to be able to feel like they can do what they want to do, when they want to do it. So I think that's awesome.

Adam Kol:
Yeah.

Russ Thornton:
How would you say your work as a couple's financial coach, impacts women, as they plan for or transition into retirement? I'm guessing this would clearly be in the context of a woman in some form or relationship, what kind of impact do you think your work carries through, as they're may be thinking about retirement, whether that's five years away or 15 years away?

Adam Kol:
Absolutely. So, first, I want to share a couple of things that I noticed or that studies have borne out about women and money and then, I'll explain how it ties to my work. So the first one is the gender wage gap that still exists, it still pronounced that women are paid less for the same work. Even amongst women, this is even worse for Latino women, for black women, for indigenous and native women. So these challenges persist. Additionally, we live still in a society that has real embedded gender norms, right? So at least in a heterosexual partnership, we often default to the woman doing more of what I've heard called domestic and emotional labor, so domestic, like taking care of the house, taking care of the kids or pets, if they are there.

Adam Kol:
Emotional labor being ... like having to remember the birthdays and plan the parties and having the tough conversations with the kids or the parents. That kind of stuff and that kind of work is typically not compensated, at least in our society, and here in the US and in the West at large. So you have these two really important factors. Women earn less than men overall and earn less even for the same work and they also do a lot of other things more often than men do in heterosexual partnerships. Those things they don't get paid for, right? There's not an entry in the financial accounting spreadsheet for how much you clean the house or how many difficult conversations you had with your kid. So what that adds up to is what I would call a power dynamic.

Adam Kol:
When it comes to finances, on average, in a male and female relationship, there's a certain market advantage that the men have because of those things I was speaking about before. It can create a whole lot of different feelings, right? If you and your partner don't feel comfortable talking about money, don't have a shared ethos, when it comes to how you handle your finances, if you're not rowing in the same direction toward a certain set of goals, right? Even if some of those goals are more for one or the other of you, but you're still both like, okay, rooting yourself on and rooting your partner on for their goals, as well as your joint goals, right? If that's not happening, it can become a really treacherous space and time for women.

Adam Kol:
It's like, "Well, what do we do with our retirement accounts and our 401Ks? How are we going to divide expenses as we transition to retirement, right? What about if you want to purchase a home in cash as ... sometimes people in retirement like to do that if they have the means and how do we navigate that? What about if one of us has more cash set aside, because we either kept our money separate all these years or maybe we had some joint but some separate? The higher earner was able to set aside more, right? How do we navigate all of that and even, what are our expectations of each other in retirement, right? Just because we're not working a job anymore, doesn't mean that our children don't still have misadventures and needs for their parents and things where we want to run to their aid, right?

Adam Kol:
Whether it's a topic that we might think we know more about or for their children or whatever the case may be, right? So I think that if you have not established this level of communication, clarity, teamwork with your partner, as you trend towards retirement, the issues are going to be there at least as pronounced as they were before. The only thing is now, you may not be making any more income or at least earned income in retirement. Now from one point of view, you say, "Okay, well, maybe that's helpful because if there was a disparity in terms of how much we earned, well, that disparity is not going to widen anymore because we're both retired." On the other hand, if you're retired and living off a different amount of assets in part, because of a pay difference, for example, it can possibly in some ways, increase the tension and anxiety or resentment.

Adam Kol:
When you're retired, you're probably going to want to do more activities, take more trips, go on more cruises, have more experiences, all of which cost money, and if you two, don't have a good idea of how you're going to tackle those things to make sure that you're both enjoying them and included as much as possible, it can get awkward. So, I think this work affects people throughout the relationship and lifecycle. There are some particular nuances as you and your partner approach retirement.

Russ Thornton:
Well, yeah, there's so much to unpack there but yeah, yeah. Thanks for sharing that. I mean, in addition to the wage gap and potential power dynamics around gender norms, I mean, there's also the fact that statistically women live longer and which compound some of these issues. Add to that, the fact that a lot of women, either step into or kind of fall into a caregiver role as their parents' age or ... so yeah, it's just a-

Adam Kol:
Great points.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, it can just really turn into like a really, just kind of perfect storm of problems. So I think to your point, Adam, the sooner you can get on the same page with your partner, get to a place where you're both supportive and kind of both reading from the same sheet music. I think the better, because I think those potential problems just run the risk of compounding the more time that they go and check.

Adam Kol:
They absolutely do and there's so many aspects there, including around estate planning and maybe one partner wants to make sure they let's say insure against the need for long-term care and skilled nursing care, and the other person is willing to take their chances and then, if push comes to shove, try and do some quote, unquote Medicaid planning. If that's hanging over your head, that can really impact your quality of life, right? The only way to not have it hanging over your head, unless you're extremely wealthy is for you and your partner to connect and create a plan that honors each of your worries and fears and also the wants and goals you have.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Yeah. Adam, I feel like you and I could probably continue talking for another hour or two, but in the interest of your time and that of our listeners, let's start to wrap things up.

Adam Kol:
Sure.

Russ Thornton:
Just kind of on a personal note, how do you ... and you kind of already touched on some of this perhaps, but how do you most enjoy spending your time when you've got an hour or two all to yourself, assuming you ever do have an hour or two, all to yourself?

Adam Kol:
Yeah. Some of the simple things, watching a TV show that makes me think or makes me smile, going for a walk around the neighborhood. I am a first-time uncle. I have a one and a half year old nephew. So taking a peek at pictures and videos of him that always makes me feel full-hearted. So, I enjoyed that, and of course, who doesn't like a little nap or a meditation. That also is a pleasure.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, and I meant to ask earlier, have you and your fiance set a wedding date?

Adam Kol:
We have not yet. As of the moment of recording, it's all in the works.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah. Well, congratulations, nevertheless.

Adam Kol:
Thank you. Appreciate it.

Russ Thornton:
If there were ... we've covered a lot. I know our conversation is going to stick with me. I'll probably be thinking of this about our conversation for at least the rest of the day and maybe the rest of this week, but if there were one thing that our listeners could take away from our discussion today, what would you want that one thing to be?

Adam Kol:
While these money-related conversations have deep roots, keep it simple. Share your thoughts, give your partner space to share theirs and then work together to find a way forward that honors each of you and the relationship that you've built. At the core, that's what this is all about.

Russ Thornton:
All right, keep it simple. I don't know if there's better universal advice out there, but I think it certainly applies here, especially when it comes to communication and kind of trying to maybe bridge some of those communication gaps. So, yeah, thank you for that. I'm sure people are going to want to, maybe reach out or at least learn more about you. I know you've got a website and a blog and a podcast, so Adam, what's the best way that people can learn more about you or reach out or just dig deeper into the work that you're doing.

Adam Kol:
First of all, I mean, thanks for the opportunity to share about this and of course for the conversation, Russ and thank you to everybody who stuck around and listened. I appreciate that. It really means a lot. My website is couplesfinancialcoach.com and I have a really neat quiz on there, that'll take you two minutes called ... where you get to find your couple's money personality type, and that's at couplesfinancialcoach.com/quiz. Then, at couplesfinancialcoach.com/podcast, you will find all of my podcast episodes. The podcast is called ... which hopefully makes it simple to remember, The Couples Financial Coach Podcast. So it's on all the major platforms, including Apple and Spotify and all the listings, like I said, are up on my website as well, which is couplesfinancialcoach.com.

Russ Thornton:
Awesome. We'll be sure to share links to all those resources in the show notes, Adam, along with your LinkedIn profile, so people can reach out and learn more. So thank you again, this has been a lot of fun. I've really enjoyed our conversation and getting to know you and your work a little bit better and I'm glad we're able to share this conversation with our listeners, so thanks again.

Adam Kol:
Thank you for having me, Russ.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, and for everyone out there listening, thanks so much for joining us. This has been another episode of Women's Retirement Radio, and we look forward to joining you on our next episode.