CNN Money reports that 56% of married women leave investment and long-term financial planning decisions to their husbands, and 85% of women who defer to their husbands believe their spouses know more about financial matters.
It’s one thing to be the “nerd” in the relationship, to have that natural bent of researching mutual funds and doing spreadsheets that roll out to the 5th tab. That’s nerd on steroids and you for sure don’t need two of those in a relationship.
But, for any spouse to leave the decision-making up to the other one or worse, for a spouse to take that decision away is unhealthy and in my opinion, wrong.
Here’s how it works at my house: regardless of how much income either spouse brings in, we both have an income. We both have an equal say into how that income is spent. We both come to the table with what we want in terms of a financial future and we discuss it until we agree on some shared goals. You want a new car? I want to go on vacation. You want to pay the mortgage off faster? I want to invest more into retirement.
The first step in solving the problem that CNN is describing is to be on the same page as your spouse with money. Work on the budget together. Make financial decisions together. As far as investment decisions, I may do some initial research on possible mutual funds to invest in. She’s not that interested in pouring over thousands of funds to choose five finalists. That’s ok; I’m the same way with paint. You go pick out your top 3-4 colors, and then bring me into the conversation. With mutual funds, I’ll bring a short list to Christie and have her weigh in with her opinions and we’ll discuss what we like and don’t like about each one. Together we pick the best fund for our situation, we decide how much we’re going to invest, and how often.
When each partner has the same level of buy-in, it strengthens your relationship in those areas going forward. It can be very valuable to your marriage.