Ladies, we are taking our seat at the table, “leaning in” to our jobs, making money and juggling career and family. Yet many of us are still handing over the responsibility of managing the family’s finances to our husbands.
Deep down, we know that it is critically important for us to be informed and involved in our family’s budget and investment management process.
After all, the sheer statistics show women will likely outlive their husbands. If that is not enough to make us want to play a more active role, let’s consider the expression “opposites attract.” If this is true for you and your spouse, don’t assume that you are automatically on the same page when it comes to money, saving, spending and investing.
So, why aren’t we stepping up to the money plate? It isn’t a lack of desire. It simply comes down to time and confidence.
As we are ruling the world, keeping the family house running smoothly, and children’s schedules aligned, we are just too darn busy and have decided to delegate this responsibility. There are only so many hours in a day and to remove this seemingly time-consuming job from our to-do list seems like a win.
Next is confidence. As women, we know that we can figure anything out. Yet, for some reason, we have talked ourselves out of being involved in managing the family’s investments. We have told ourselves that it is too complicated and gladly handed our financial future and security over to our husbands without a second thought.
Not being involved in your family’s finances is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Even if your hubby has been handling the money for years, it’s time to jump back in and reengage. It’s time to be informed. Here’s 5 simple ways to do just that.
Sexy money time
We carve out time for dinner with friends, date night and as many kid’s sports games as we can cram into our hectic schedules. Give your money the same attention. Carve out 30 minutes a month to sit down with your spouse to review the budget and where the money is going. How much income is coming in? What money is going out to meet monthly expenses? What else are you spending as a family? Are you paying for monthly memberships you aren’t using? Talk about your goals for the future. Do you dream of retiring early or buying a vacation home? How are you planning to cover children’s college expenses? Are there ways to reduce your expenses to help get you on track? Are you both saving as much as possible in your company’s retirement plans?
Look at your monthly investment statements
While it may look like a foreign language at first, your statements provide a wealth of information. Are you putting money into the accounts? What withdrawals are being made? How much in fees are you paying your Advisor? What does the performance look like? Don’t forget to review your work retirement plans. Are you and your husband maxing out these accounts? If not, are you at least contributing enough to receive the employer’s match? Can you contribute more? How are they invested?
Attend meetings with your husband and Financial Planner
Be direct with the Financial Advisor and let them know that you are becoming involved in the investment process and want to be brought up to speed – in English (not industry jargon). Here are some questions to ask.
- What is my investment portfolio designed to accomplish?
- Are we on track for retirement? Let’s review the plan? (This should also include a review of your work retirement plans.)
- What would happen if one of us were to die prematurely? Do we have adequate insurance?
- Has long term-care insurance been considered?
Review your beneficiaries
This is especially important if you are in a second marriage. Make sure your beneficiaries on retirement plans, insurance policies and accounts are up-to-date. If you are leaving assets in Trust for your children make sure your beneficiary designations reflect this.
Dust off your estate planning documents
Do you and your husband have a will, power of attorney and health care directives? If the answer is “no,” it’s time to get them done. If the answer is “yes,” then find out when they were drafted and what they say. It’s time to give them a review to make sure they are still in accordance with your wishes.
These 5 simple steps will help you reengage and work alongside your partner to steer your family’s finances in the right direction.
This article was originally published in the Baltimore Business Journal.
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