The joint approach to managing your money

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In today’s busy life of go-go-go, we may compartmentalize our roles with one spouse having the role of “CFO”.  While such an arrangement helps with delegation of duties and allows for us to accomplish many things, it also leaves the other spouse in the dark concerning the financial workings of the family.  Below are two situations where not being fully informed about your assets, liabilities, and income may be detrimental:

Divorce: Although we do not like to believe that our happy relationship may one day end in divorce, many such unions do not survive. During divorce proceedings one of the initial steps is “Discovery.”  Discovery requires that each spouse divulge their financial assets, liabilities, and income.  Being a knowledgeable partner in the marriage helps you to know if all assets and income are being accurately and thoroughly disclosed.  Coming to the divorce process with little knowledge of this information may put you in a position of ignorance which may equate to less bargaining power.

Widowhood: Again, we do not like to think about the loss of a spouse due to death.  Knowing what assets and liabilities exist and where the assets are held is crucial to settling the estate.  You must address the question of how you move forward, financially, as a single individual. Widowhood is a very tentative and tenuous time.  Not only are you going through the grieving process, but you may be trying to piece together your financial future at a time when such tedious and important tasks may be difficult to accomplish. 

If your busy life does not allow for a joint approach to keeping up with your finances, at least set aside a quarterly meeting during which the two of you sit down and have a “Board of Directors” meeting to make sure that both partners are well-versed in the financial picture of the family. 

Deborah E. Pajak, CFP®, ChFC®, CLTC, CDFA™ is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory, and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC, member SIPC. 5001 Louise Dr. Suite 300, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 (717) 791-3300. CRN202012-240641