A message to married and unmarried couples about managing your money: it’s a two-person job.
Richard Eisenberg, a financial writer and author of two books, “How to Avoid a Midlife Financial Crisis” and “The Money Book of Personal Finance” says that letting just one of the two of you handle all the household’s saving and investing, bill paying, insurance, wealth building and debt management is a recipe for financial trouble, especially if you’re over 50.
In a recent article on NextAvenue.org, Eisenberg wrote that that the big takeaway from the new “Friends Talk Money” podcast I co-host with personal finance syndicated columnist and author Terry Savage (“The Savage Truth on Money”) and public television’s MoneyTrack co-host and Wealthramp.com founder Pam Krueger.
“I know it’s a tender topic,” said Krueger on the podcast. “Sharing control of financial decisions later in life starts with finding your voice, showing an interest in the topic and asking to get involved.” That’s true no matter how much you two have in income or assets.
In the “Friends Talk Money” episode, Krueger talked with a retired woman in New England who preferred not to reveal her real name but absolutely wanted to reveal the story of how she finally got her older husband to fill her in about their finances.
The woman, who we called Kathy, owned a small business before marrying him and then selling it; it’s the second marriage for both of them. Her husband (we called him Joe) had owned a successful retail chain and sold it for a lot of money; he’s now retired, too.
Said Krueger: “During the first few years of their marriage, [Kathy] was sort of checked out” about their finances. Then she realized she was in the dark and it started to bother her.
It finally got to the point, Krueger said, “where she just kept getting the same answer over and over and over whenever she asked questions about money.”
Said Kathy: “Oh my God, constantly. It was enough so that we had arguments about it because it was like, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it.'”
Right before her husband went in for surgery, Kathy insisted on being brought into the money conversations. She worried that she’d have no idea how to take the financial reins if she needed to do so.
“I’m totally dependent on him, you know? And he has children, and he has a lot of different businesses that I know nothing about,” noted Kathy. “I said: ‘You need to tell me exactly. It isn’t fair to any of us: your kids, yourself or anything. You know, we need to have a map.”
After roughly a decade of not talking about their finances, Kathy and Joe finally had the long-needed money talk.
To learn more, or to hear the podcast, visit nextavenue.org.