Working together on your finances isn’t something that comes naturally to a lot of couples. If that sounds like you, here are a few tips from a professional.
It happens too often.
One spouse takes the lead on all things financial while the other is hands-off. That may seem like a good idea, but it can lead to trouble down the road.
If the financially savvy spouse should pass away, the survivor (usually the wife, but not always) is left in a stressful situation because he or she knows little to nothing about the family accounts or how to access those accounts. Possibly, the surviving spouse never even met the financial professional who handles their investments.
This is why we believe and promote finances to be a family affair. Both spouses don’t need to be experts in all things money, but they should have a grasp of their general financial situation and take part in any decisions that are made. This is especially true in retirement when income streams can be totally different than your working years.
If finances have been a one-person show in your household, here’s how to transform that into a family affair:
Create a plan
When it comes to financial goals – or probably any goal for that matter – you can’t just blindly throw darts at a wall and hope everything works out. You need a plan, whether you are saving money for retirement, a new house, a vacation or some other expense that doesn’t fit into the daily budget. Everyone who is affected by the plan should be involved.
Also, I recommend putting that plan in writing because once it’s in writing, it becomes a living thing, not some nebulous notion. Write down your goals, create a timeline for achieving them and develop a roadmap for how you will get there. And don’t be afraid to reach out to a financial advisory firm like Worthwhile Wealth Council if you need some extra help.
Schedule dedicated time to work on things together
Wealth-building doesn’t happen on its own. To make finances a priority, regularly set aside time to work on things together, so it’s clear that all parties are dedicated to your financial goals, and one person isn’t pulling all the weight while others are out of the loop.
Household finances come with plenty of working parts. Taxes. Monthly bills. Investments. Although it’s important that everyone is aware of the big picture, you should delegate responsibilities for individual tasks.
Perhaps one person feels more confident handling the taxes. Another person may want to take charge of investments because they love to follow the market. Once again, the key is that everyone is involved, even if an individual carries out the specific assignments.
Make sure both spouses meet with the financial adviser
This is one time when you don’t want to split the duties. Both spouses should attend meetings with the financial adviser. Even if one person has no interest, they still need to be there to understand what’s happening with the family’s money and to get to know the adviser. Why? Because that adviser is who you will call if something happens to your spouse and you encounter a problem with your finances.
Make it fun
Money matters can be drudgery and stress-inducing if you let them be. To ease the tension, inject fun into the process. For example, you can create a rewards system for when you reach certain milestones, such as when you manage to knock off another $1,000 off your credit card debt. Treat yourself to a date night, a spa day, a family picnic. That way, this potentially tedious chore becomes more palatable.
Making finances a family affair ensures that one spouse isn’t left in the dark when the other spouse dies. But that’s not all. Financial planning and related financial chores are less burdensome if more than one person is carrying the load.
Financial decisions also may prove wiser when two people provide input. And the odds that the financial plan will be a success and that the goals will be met are much higher if all parties have buy-in.
This commentary was originally posted by Penny Di Giovanna, CFP® March 13, 2022
Source: Building Wealth Should Be a Family Affair | Kiplinger
**Disclaimer: This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.