Get Comfortable Talking About Money and Get to Know Your Partner's Finances
A man is not a financial plan.
I recently read an article on Yahoo! News "Confessions of a Divorce Lawyer" where a divorce lawyer runs through some of the common mistakes that her clients run into. The number #1 mistake was "People don't know enough about their spouse's finances." This is the kind of thing that drives me crazy. Now, I truly hope that no one in my circle gets a divorce, but there's no guarantee in that. People change, grow and at some point become incompatible. The idealist in me says "love is forever" but the pragmatist in me says otherwise. The thing too that riles me up is that in most divorce, it's usually the woman that is in the dark about the family's finances. It's 2018, there's no more excuses not to know.
Here's how my husband and I manage our finances. We have separate personal checking and savings accounts under our own names. We have separate retirement accounts under our own names. We have separate brokerage accounts under own names. We have separate credit cards. We have a shared checking and savings account. We have shared credit cards. It seems like it's a lot to manage, but not really. See, everything is automated. Funds are electronically allocated to where they need to go. We talk about money often too. What happened with last month's expenses? Where do we invest? How do we allocate our investments? Etc. The conversations aren't always positive, but the point is that we talk about it. Sometimes there's blame, sometimes there's wins, sometimes we have to pull it out of each other why we reacted a certain why, but we are in this together so might as well have the hard conversations now.
We also use Personal Capital (which I've reviewed here and continue to champion). We have one account, but we have loaded all of our accounts into it as a form of visibility and transparency. Sometimes, I may not agree with what my husband wants to invest in, but if I can see the holistic picture of our allocations, I sometimes don't put up a fight. Having our accounts in one place also allows us to see where we are concentrating our expenses and our allocations. We both have access to the Personal Capital so it's easy to quickly glance what's going on even from our phone.
If you are uncomfortable talking about money with your partner, the mother/father of your children, your lifelong partner, ask yourself why? There's something in your money mindset that is limiting these open conversations. Find the root of it so that you can move on and get the conversation going. Sadly, finances is a common reason people get divorced which in itself is the great irony.