Managing Household Finances - It Takes Two to Tango

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Watch an episode of Dancing with the Stars, and you’ll notice that the best performances result from teamwork, practice, encouragement and support. A good partnership requires give-and-take in almost all areas of life, including your finances. Is your financial relationship with your partner a smooth waltz or are you stepping on each other’s toes? Although you probably won’t see eye-to-eye on every matter, as a couple you can set ground rules for your money and investments, which will help keep you both up-to-date on your finances.

It’s common in many households for one person to manage the family finances. In return, the other partner may be willing to keep up the yard or perform the housework. The problem with this situation is that the person who doesn’t handle the finances may be left in the cold if something were to happen to his or her partner.  

Perfecting the Dance

Although it may be hard to let go of financial control, you’ll ultimately breathe easier knowing your companion is able to take over if needed. The following are ways to help you share the financial leadership role with your partner.

  • Share and share alike. Bring your partner into the financial conversation. Sit down with him or her and give a rundown on where things stand. Where are your investments located? Are you on track for retirement? Focus on the big picture and allow your partner to ask questions.
  • Back to basics.  Keeping written or electronic records of your financial life is an excellent step in keeping your partner informed. Organize the information in a way that’s accessible and easy to understand. For example, you may have folders labeled “investments,” “mortgage,” “retirement” and “checking.” If your partner needs to find information pertaining to one of these topics, he or she will know where to look.
  • A numbers game. A key piece of information when discussing financial matters is where to find individual accounts. Provide your partner with a list of where your accounts are located and the account numbers, along with passwords, contact information for financial and investment advisors, and any other important details. Keep this list stored in a secure place.

A Standing Ovation

Now that you and your partner are on the same page, keep up the pace by reviewing your savings and investments on a regular basis.