Money magazine had a good article this month about the perceptions of husbands and wives when it comes to money. You can read the article, Men Women + Money, in it’s entirety online. This article picks up on some of the basic misunderstandings between spouses and money.
The article points out that most men still make the majority of money for their households. Apparently the spouse that brings home the bacon, also invests it, so in the majority of circumstances the husband makes all of the investment decisions while the wife deals with the day to day expenses like buying groceries and keeping the children clothed. It suggests that women don’t discuss investments and retirement goals with their husbands because they lack the confidence to do so. Unless your husband is a financial advisor this makes no sense to me, why would a woman assume her husband knows anymore about these issues than she does? If she lacks confidence she should search for investment information on the internet, or even buy an “investing for dummies” book, I’m sure there is one out there.
When husbands were polled with questions regarding their wives concerns about saving for retirement, saving for emergencies, paying off debt, or having the right investments, the men consistently underrated their wives. For most of the responses 27 – 45% of the men believed their wives cared about the issues, but when polled 48 – 68% of the wives showed concern.
Even 68% seems like a low-ball number to me. Were some of the women polled wealthy housewives who sit around by the poolside all day? Why aren’t 100% of women concerned about retirement and saving for emergencies? Do women still have the 1950s belief that their husbands will support them and take care of their needs until the day they die? What amazes me most is that the majority of wives will outlive their husbands. Since women will live longer and need their money to stretch further, shouldn’t they be the ones handling the investments, researching the funds in their retirement accounts, and ensuring that they can live out their last years on earth without fear of running out of money? In defense of these women, the article does not give the percentage of men who care about these categories. Perhaps I am delusional in my belief that 100% of both sexes should care about their future well being.
The focus of the article in Money magazine is a good one. It attempts to point out why spouses fight about money. But I think it fails to get to the root of the problem, which is that husbands and wives need to sit down together to discuss their financial goals. For any woman out there that is afraid to talk to her husband, or has not thought of the importance of making large monetary decisions, I suggest reading “The Family CFO.” It is an easy read that will help you recognize the importance of setting goals and working towards them. After all, your husband could divorce you or he could die. You will need to be able to sustain your household without him, and by working towards goals together now, you can be assured that you will be taken care of in the future.
And isn’t that something we should all care about?