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Ladies: It’s time to get a handle on your finances

Here we go again…. Back in March I posted a commentary on an article called Men Women + Money. In that posting, I pointed out that women need to become equal partners in financial planning and investing, even if their husband provides the majority of household income.

Yesterday MSNBC published an article urging married women to become more involved in retirement planning. This article reiterates many of the issues in my original posting, including the fact that most women will eventually wind up managing their own finances. In fact, the article states that nearly 90 percent of women will end up managing their finances alone in the latter part of their lives.

Although I wasn’t a big fan of this article it did offer a few helpful suggestions for opening the lines of communication between spouses. It suggests talking with your husband about one financial issue at a time. For example, reviewing life insurance coverage or employee benefits. If you have never spoken in detail with your spouse about money it can be a little overwhelming to discuss all the household financial decisions at once. Breaking down topics into manageable conversations is a good idea.

The article also suggests sitting down and asking yourself simple questions that may impact your finances. “For instance, ‘Are we going to stay in this house for a while?’ [and] ‘If so, will we do more to pay off the loan?'” Once you begin to open the lines of communication, you will “eventually, need to sit down and review all their financial statements together. You both need to be up to speed about where your money is and how it’s working for you.

You also need to determine your goals for retirement, your values and whether your money is going to get you what you want.” My husband and I sit down to discuss financial issues quite often. It helps us set goals for ourselves and helps to ensure that our goals remain aligned with one another. Talking openly about money has allowed us to set a course for our future, including what hobbies we wish to pursue, where we want to live, when we will remodel our home, when we will travel, and when we hope to retire.

Most importantly, the article points out that any conversation ultimately needs to determine how a couple wants to live. After all, if you choose to live outside of your means today you may be living a very meager tomorrow.

ableknife

Sunday 17th of December 2006

Moneysmartlife: check out a book called Women, Get Answers About Your Money by Carolyn Castleberry. It might be a good, basic resource to help your wife better understand all of this financial stuff. It can definitely be confusing and intimidating if she's never been very involved.

One Frugal Girl

Wednesday 13th of December 2006

Money Smart Life -- You should definitely encourage your wife to understand your finances, even if she does't take control of them. You don't have to tell her the money is gone ;-} just explain that it's important to you that she feel comfortable knowing where the money resides, what it's invested in, how much you have and what your goals are. I'd also recommend giving her a copy of the 'Family CFO,' which explains how to hold conversations about money and discusses a ton of financial topics. If you do talk with her, let me know how it goes.

moneysmartlife

Wednesday 13th of December 2006

I hear where you're coming from but my wife has ZERO interest in our finances. As long as we have the money for the things we need and our bills are paid, she is content.

She did see David Bach on Oprah one day and got all excited about our finances. Of course I already had the book "Smart Couples Finish Rich" so she started into it but her interest fizzled quickly.

You make a good point, what will she do when I'm not around? Maybe I should scare her into showing some interest by telling her there is no money left. That might get her attention :)

One Frugal Girl

Tuesday 12th of December 2006

Bellen -- I urge you to complete your 2007 resolution. My mother will be 57 in January. Currently my father handles all of the income & bills, and I am constantly urging her to become more aware of the family finances. Obviously, it's a safeguard in case something happens to your spouse, but more importantly it's empowering! Good luck.

Bellen

Monday 11th of December 2006

I agree that communication is the most important part of a husband/wife financial plan. At 60 & 62, retired, we know that we must focus on our probably 20 more years of living. While my husband and I have the same financial goals, I have no idea what my, his & our investments are. He does the investing and does a truly wonderful job of it. If he were to die tomorrow - I don't know where my money is, altho I do know the investment company. My one & only 'resolution' for the new year is to get a complete financial portfolio picture done for myself.I think a yearly net worth statement and review of financial goals should be as regular as changing the batteries in your smoke alarm.