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Four Ways to Include Your Spouse in Financial Planning

Written by Hank Coleman - 8 Comments

Four Ways to Include Your Spouse in Financial Planning

I am ashamed to say that my wife told me the other day that she doesn’t know what a mutual fund is. This stemmed from a brief discussion about where to invest $1,000 that we had collected from our 8-year-old son’s birthday and Christmas money. My wife is a big fan of certificates of deposit. They are her safety blanket, and all she knows about investing.

Of course, I was appalled. I was not only mortified at her investment choices but also at my own inability to educate her over the past ten years of marriage in the topics of my chosen profession.

I realized that part of my problem has been my poor communication skills. Like many couples in America, my wife and I are very different in the way that we think about, handle, and approach our personal finances. It starts to get even murkier when we discuss our combined efforts. My wife has very little experience with, love for, or interest in personal finance, investing, or money management.

Don’t get me wrong, she does care about our retirement and our overall financial wellbeing, but she is not as passionate about the subject as I am, and doesn’t want to be bothered with the details. So, it is very hard to include her in our family’s financial planning. Below are four ways that you can try to include your spouse in the financial planning for your family.

Have a monthly finance meeting

Having a family meeting about your personal finances is one of the most important tools that you can use to include both spouses in the financial planning and decision-making process. This should not be a one-sided meeting, but rather a family money talk and discussion.

Your monthly meeting should cover items such as where your family currently stands financially, what your net worth is, which investments have grown or shrunk, etc. You should also review your financial goals, discuss any financial challenges, and refine or reconfirm your short and long-term financial plan.

Set goals as a family

Your family should have both long-term and short-term financial goals, and you should set those goals together with your spouse. Take some time separately to write down both short and long-term goals, and then come back together to share and discuss each other’s goals. You may find out things about your spouse that you never knew were important to him or her.

For example, you may learn that your spouse finds it very important to leave your family home to your children after you both die. If you do not know your joint financial goals as a family, it will be hard to ensure that your family’s financial plan is heading in the right direction.

Develop systems for saving and investing

Do you have a monthly written budget that your family sticks to when spending? How do you handle large purchases? Do you have a certain amount of money that you can spend without having to discuss the purchase with each other? Many families set a spending limit of (say) $100 or $250 without having to check with each other. For others, the limit is much lower. The key is to find a number that works for you.

You should also find a budgeting system that works for your family. Should you use the envelope budgeting system to control your spending every month? My wife and I actually use credit cards to manage our monthly budget, and pay off the balance every month.

See a financial planner together

Another great way to involve a spouse that has no interest in financial planning is to solicit the help of a professional. Not only will a certified financial planner be able to develop a comprehensive financial plan for your family based on both spouses’ financial goals, but the financial advisor will also be able to properly educate both of you on your investment options.

A financial planner can be a teammate that helps you explain things to a spouse who may need extra help with certain financial concepts. There is also a neutrality that the financial planner brings to the table. You could tell your spouse something a hundred times, but it may not click until it is heard coming from a neutral party who is an expert in that field.

Do you, or your spouse, care more about the day-to-day finances in your family? Do you have trouble including your spouse in your family’s financial planning? How do you approach your finances as a couple?

Published on November 17th, 2011
Modified on November 21st, 2011 - 8 Comments
Filed under: Planning

About the author: is a freelance writer who has written extensively for many financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master's Degree in Finance and is actively pursuing Certified Financial Planner status.

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8 Responses to “Four Ways to Include Your Spouse in Financial Planning”

  1. 1
    Nickel Says:

    Hank: My wife likewise has very little interest in the details of our finances. While she’s aware of the big picture, she should probably be more involved. I think that the idea of having a monthly (or quarterly, or whatever) meeting is a good one.

  2. 2
    Bob Says:

    Great article. It made me really think about the situation. It is as you described – my wife is aware but not with the details or overall picture.

    I need to better communicate and having a meeting, goals and discussions will make me more prepared to show both myself and my wife where we are/headed.

    Thanks.

  3. 3
    Mary Says:

    I’m the finance nerd in my family and getting my husband involved was a challenge. It’s funny cause I’m the spender and he’s the saver. I got a lot of traction by starting with a dream board. It’s a lot easier to talk about the mundane details of which fund to choose when you know why you want one!!

  4. 4
    Vince Thorne Says:

    You really have touched a delicate subject here. I have about the same interest in shoes as my wife has in financial planning. Nonetheless, I do think my wife should step up and take the reins should anything happen to me.

  5. 5
    OneMinuteFinance Says:

    I got to say my man, I know exactly where you coming from. First many spouses dont talk about this stuff because neither of them knows exactly what every term means. Also, it may lead to arguments. However, this can have bigger damage. I agree with you to have monthly meetings and seeing a financial advisor because at least its a third party person telling you what you can and cant do with your money. Thankfully my spouse and I are on the same page most of the time and seek financial advice when needed. By the way I wrote an article about this site on my site check it out.! http://www.oneminutefinance.co.....eddie-mac/

  6. 6
    Hank Says:

    I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who has this problem. It makes me feel better knowing that others face the same issue.

  7. 7
    Nate Says:

    We’ve found that staying on the same page with finances (and everything else) is vital…and helpful. It is very unifying to do so. As your examples hows, some spouses may be more into it than others, but you can still work together. I’d say even more than a set meeting, constant communication is the best approach.

  8. 8
    dd Says:

    Yes, financial literacy is important for you and your spouse. But don’t forget the kids….. years ago my daughter and I did not seem to be communicating in this area until I realized her idea of a CD was very much different than mine.

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