“But my spouse is more of a “numbers” person” It is a lousy reason to surrender your role in your financial future.” Brad Rhodes
Financial giant UBS Global Wealth Management did a study recently in which 54% of women surveyed admitted they let their spouse be the leader in the family finances. Some of the reasons given by these women included, “My husband is better with numbers,” and “I just don’t enjoy planning and investing.” Many husbands prefer to let their wives handle financial affairs for the same reasons.
These objections to working together to achieve your money goals may be genuine, and someone who hates math might feel happy to leave financial matters in their spouse’s hands. However, letting your spouse control everything related to money may not be a wise idea for either of you.
There are numerous reasons for making retirement and income planning a joint affair. No matter how challenging or tedious you find money matters, you must play a role in all significant financial life decisions if you are married. When you don’t, you risk making mistakes with your money from which you will never recover. Allowing another person to manage your wealth exclusively is, in most instances, a recipe for disaster.
Here are a few you might want to consider:
- Money decisions are some of the most important ones you will ever make, impacting your entire family. Solo planning threatens BOTH spouses’ financial independence. Making bad money choices can set you back years in achieving retirement and income goals. For this reason, you should explore and discuss your options together.
- Illness, accidents, or death can create chaos. If “John” is the only spouse who understands the household finances and doesn’t bother to tell “Jane” his secrets, you have the recipe for financial chaos should a crisis occur. Death, illness, or incapacitating injuries often occur without warning, creating a situation where the surviving spouse is ill-prepared to run the money side of things.
- Twice the brainpower equals better results. When only one spouse is actively engaged in a family’s finances, it’s challenging to achieve long-term results. This is especially true if one spouse has a more liberal attitude toward money and the other is intent on systematically saving it for the future. Discussing your money attitudes with a spouse can help you discover new ways to plan the future and avoid conflicts.
- Having a second set of eyeballs helps. Just because your significant other is interested in Wall Street and religiously watches financial programs on TV doesn’t mean they have achieved money mastery. Your husband or wife might get their thrills by exposing your savings to extremely high-risk and speculative investments. There is perhaps nothing so impactful to a couples’ lives as creating a sound retirement portfolio. For this reason, BOTH spouses must fully understand and accept what’s done with their money.
- It helps to have an accountability partner. Billionaire Warren Buffett credits both his first wife, Susie (who passed away in 2004), and his current wife Astrid with being cornerstones of his financial success. Buffett often tells his shareholders that accountability to a spouse who shares your values dramatically enhances your financial success and creates a happier life. You need your spouse to voice reason in a chaotic and volatile economic environment, holding you accountable.
Summing it all up: Even though it may feel fine now to let your spouse make unilateral money decisions, it could create negative situations in the future. Money is already the number one source of marital stress. However, attempting to avoid stress in conflict by not sharing decision-making will only compound that stress. Solid, sane financial planning is not a one-man or one-woman show. In the long run, your relationship and your wealth will benefit from sharing the load.