How involved in your finances are you...really?

How much do you know about your finances? Does your spouse handle everything while you stick your head in the sand? Or, is it the opposite, where you handle everything and your spouse doesn’t know what's going on? Maybe both of you collaborate on the plan and details?

In my highly unscientific study of clients, this is about what I see:
Husband does it all: 50%
Wife does it all: 20%
Both work together: 30%

This estimate suggests one spouse has all the household finance knowledge in about 70% of cases. This isn’t good news. Why? Because in 99.9% of households, one spouse pre-deceases the other. If the one who knows the details goes first, the remaining spouse could be in for a huge challenge.

Some time ago, a couple came into my office and told me the husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He had a few years to live. This couple was in the first group—the husband handled everything. Even though this was horrible news, we took advantage of his remaining time and made sure she was up-to-date on their investment, bills, and income details. When he passed away, one thing she didn’t have to worry about was the financial side of the household.

Most of the time, unfortunately, the uninformed spouse doesn’t get the opportunity that this couple received. The surviving spouse may be dependent on a child or friend to help them understand.

So, how do you get more informed about your household finances? Ask questions. Get involved. Help pay bills. Attend meetings with your financial advisor. Ask questions of your financial advisor.

What if your spouse isn’t interested in your household finances? Get organized now! Call our office for a copy of our organizer brochure to guide you through listing all the information your spouse may need to deal with. Also, bring your spouse to meetings with your financial advisor and make sure your spouse is comfortable with your advisor.
I remember another couple where the husband handled most household financial duties. Unfortunately, he passed away leaving the duties to her. She didn’t attend many of the portfolio review meetings so didn’t feel as comfortable with us as her husband had. I watched her move all of their money into high-commission products sold to her by the son of a friend. It was an unfortunate situation.

I learned something from that second couple. Ever since then, I try hard to meet with both spouses. It is very important for both spouses to have a basic understanding of their accounts, planning processes, and reasoning behind the personal choices affecting savings. Call us today to make an appointment for you and your spouse, or to order our organizer to help put your finances in order.

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