Michelle's Blog

A resource for the thoughts and writings of Michelle Brennan Hall

Engaging Your Spouse in Money Matters


How would you feel if you knew that your spouse was not comfortable making all the financial decisions? Or would you do things differently if you knew your spouse wanted to learn more about money and participate in financial planning? However it came to be for one spouse to be the financial decision-maker in your household, that spouse may be stressed and unsure of their role and most times would value a joint effort when it comes to money.


Most of my clients who are the financial decision-maker confess three things to me:

·  They’re not all that savvy when it comes to money

·  They wish their spouse were more engaged

·  It is important to them that my team and I understand that we will have to take care of their spouse when they are gone.

No matter who has the bigger paycheck, both spouses’ perspectives should be involved when it comes to financial planning.


Here are a few ideas to get you started.


1 – Include your spouse in the decision to hire a Financial Advisor. With many couples, only one spouse establishes the relationship with a financial advisor, many times unintentionally leaving the other spouse out of important discussions and decisions regarding long-term planning. It is imperative that each investor has a comfort level with advisors with whom they will share details of their hopes, dreams and at times intimate facts about their lives. Discussions are very private and can be emotional and a trusted relationship is paramount. Most advisors desire an open and frank experience with both spouses so that the advisor can provide custom strategies and investment plans that properly fit.



2 – Do not allow the age old excuse of “I really don’t understand all that financial stuff” to become a reason that both spouses do not create, contribute to and monitor the financial plan. There is no gender bias in the brain when it comes to money, finances or planning for the future. At some point, usually when the spouse who makes the financial decisions becomes incapacitated or dies, the spouse who relied on the other will be forced to deal with finances. This is hardly the time to learn how to make sound financial decisions.


3 – Find ways together to reduce debt and increase assets. A great way to do so is to make it into a game or a competition. The truth is that both spouses spend money that could be saved or invested each month. See who can save more in the month by not spending; or who can pay off their credit card faster; or who can reach an investment goal faster. These are all terrific ways to make financial affairs fun and to celebrate the wins you have as a couple.


4 – Each spouse should have at least one investment account in their name to contribute to and to manage. Having “skin in the game” is a good way to stoke interest in investments and savings. I suggest that both spouses make monthly contributions through a bank draft to an investment of their choice. Dollar cost averaging is a methodical way to invest taking advantage of the markets ups and downs and to have ownership and control of funds.


5 - Make it a habit to review statements together. Once you set your financial objectives, monitoring your plan is how you remain on track. Schedule a meeting with your spouse at least quarterly to review financial statements (as well as your debt statements like mortgage, auto and credit card). Each spouse should be responsible for bringing certain statements to the meeting for review and discussion. I also suggest that each spouse suggests one new short-term goal to achieve for the next quarter. This gets the couple engaged in setting and achieving goals together. It is great to see how this positively impacts not only the couples’ finances but the relationship as well.


However you do it, bringing you and your spouse together on all things financial will be good for you and your money. Please be sure to let me know the creative ways you find to come together on money matters. I’d love to share your ideas with our readers.


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