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Local author's book aims to help couples avoid financial minefields

Local author's book aims to help couples avoid financial minefields
Financial planner Jeff Motske of Fountain Valley, who has written a book titled "The Couple's Guide to Financial Compatibility," stands in his office in Huntington Beach. (Don Leach, HB Independent)

A Huntington Beach financial planner is looking to help couples get their finances organized to save their relationships.

In late March, Jeff Motske, founder of Trilogy Financial Services, released his first book, "The Couple's Guide to Financial Compatibility," for partners who are dating, married or retired.

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Motske, 48, a resident of Fountain Valley, said differences over money are among the leading reasons for divorce. But many couples avoid talking about finances, he said. He hopes the book will encourage couples to discuss how to be more financially responsible.

"It's a catalyst to get them talking," he said.

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The book stems from a 34-question quiz that Motske developed about four years ago for his clients. It is intended to determine a couple's financial compatability based on their opinions on saving, carrying debt, paying for their children's college education and even how they would care for a parent.

"I'd always been asking these questions to clients in meetings, but I never formalized it," said Motske, a financial planner for about 25 years. "My clients thought it was great."

Though the book is meant as a tool that married couples can use to put themselves in a better financial situation, Motske said the advice it contains also can apply to people who are dating or engaged.

"Though you probably don't want to be asking someone about their credit report on the first date," he said with a laugh. "But it's going to give you an idea of maybe the type of person you want to have a relationship with."

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Besides his book, Motske has been giving people financial advice through his Saturday morning radio show on KEIB/1150 AM called "Declare Your Financial Independence," which he co-hosts with Huntington Beach resident Kimber Holdaway, a psychiatrist who specializes in family and marriage counseling.

"Money doesn't seem to be the reason why people come into therapy, but it does seem to be the reason why people get divorced," Holdaway said. "I think it's such a taboo topic that I don't think many people realize that a lot of what they're fighting about is their financial discord."

Holdaway, 47, said talking about finances occasionally and in a relaxed environment is a key to a healthy relationship.

"Unfortunately, most people get into a fight because there is a crisis in their relationship," she said. "Even I, being a communication expert, didn't know about the right things to talk about with my husband, then-fiancé, because I grew up in a home where we didn't talk about finances."

As she approaches her 20th wedding anniversary in September, Holdaway said she has been reading Motske's book and using his advice to build a stronger financial relationship with her husband.

"I'm a work in progress," she said. "I'm pretty good at communicating, and I've made my fair share of mistakes in the financial realm. But I'm proud to say that since I've become a part of the show and reading [Motske's] book, I've made a lot of personal changes in my own life, for the better."

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