It Takes Two to Tango

What keeps both spouses from being mutually engaged with the financial affairs of your family?

In many marriage relationships, spouses have divvied up their roles for the sake of keeping the household functioning smoothly. It’s normal to delegate duties based on your skill set and interests. This often involves one spouse being the primary bill payer and keeping tabs on bank accounts and investment accounts. What tends to happen though is that the other spouse is often much less engaged when it comes to the details of investing.

Why? It has absolutely nothing to do with aptitude, skill, or motivation. Rather, it stems from all the competing interests for your time and energy.

So the question becomes, what will it take for you both to become more engaged with the personal finances of your household?

Are there limitations to having only one spouse handle the majority of duties in the household? It’s normal for each of you to gravitate toward your own talents and interests. However, when one spouse is engaged and one is not, there’s a danger that only one point of view is reflected in the decisions that are made. Even worse yet, if the engaged spouse is no longer available, the other spouse may feel lost or vulnerable.

Life happens. You need to be better prepared when it does.

Here are examples of five life change events that can force people to sit in the financial management chair:
• Death of a spouse
• Change in marital status
• Medical emergencies in the family
• Death of a parent or sibling
• Personal health crises.

As an advisory team, we place a premium on financial planning. Because we base our recommendations for your investment portfolio on your personal needs and goals for retirement, we think in family terms. Thus, it’s important for both spouses to…
• Be aware of account balances.
• Know where the legal documents of the household are stored.
• Have access to user names and passwords for online access.
• Provide input to the planning process.

As part of the services that we provide for you, we…
• Listen to you about your personal situation and needs.
• Learn about your risk tolerance.
• Ask about your children and grandchildren.
• Offer tools for organizing your financial accounts.
• Check to make sure that the beneficiaries on your accounts are up-to-date.
• Provide seminars on estate planning and recommend for you to establish a will or a trust.
• Provide your own portal through our website so you can check your accounts at any time.
• Prepare to answer any questions you may have about how your financial assets impact you and your loved ones.

Summing it up, here are my recommendations for you:
1. Be proactive. Don’t wait for a family or health crisis to hit.

2. Become informed. Reach out to us as an advisory team that many families have trusted in working through their financial issues over the years.

3. It’s OK to divide up household duties, but it’s important to have conversations around how decisions are made. For example, “What is our strategy for paying down debt? Why did we buy this particular investment and what would cause us to sell it? How do we budget our finances?” Our core belief is that the best run households recognize the value of both voices in the marriage and reflect joint decision-making.

4. Invest in building your financial confidence. Believe you can do it. You can be a wise steward of your investments from a lifetime of love, work and sacrifice.


[Financial Planning and Investment Management Services offered through Dickinson Investment Advisors, Registered Investment Advisor. Statistics and market information provided by Litman Gregory Advisor Intelligence.]

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