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Tips For Managing Finances

Posted On: 2006-08-07Length: 11:33

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In many marriages, one spouse often takes the lead when it comes to managing the family's finances, while the other handles different responsibilities. This arrangement is often mutually agreeable, especially when one partner has neither nor the interest in balancing the books. But this approach can have one unfortunate consequence, it can leave one person in the dark if the other, who controls the finances, gets called away on business, needs help juggling home duties, becomes incapacitated or dies. If you or your partner has taken a back seat in managing financial affairs, you may want to consider a more democratic approach. Learn how to get in tune with your partner so you can hit the right notes when it comes to financial planning, in this Fidelity Personal Finance podcast.

It takes two to tango. Two heads are better than one. Double your pleasure, double your fun. What's the message? Don't go it alone. When it comes to managing finances, many couples ignore this advice. They put one person in charge of all day-to-day financial obligations, such as paying the bills and balancing the checkbook. Additional duties often include managing the retirement nest egg, buying insurance, paying taxes and overseeing the estate plan. But it's important that both spouses get involved to ensure business as usual in the even of an unexpected disruption in the family situation. A good time to discuss a more democratic management approach is when you're creating or reviewing your retirement income plan. Of course it's important to determine what kind of involvement the non-financial spouse wants to take on in the future. A spouse may not want to take full control. Perhaps you want to delegate that to a financial advisor, or a trusted family member. The lasting effect, however, is that by having these discussions, you and your spouse should gain peace of mind knowing that your assets won't be jeopardized in the event of an emergency.

So, how do you agree with your mate about your financial goals? Getting on the same financial page as your partner can be easy if you're both committed to it. First of all, it's important to talk to your spouse and the people who could be handling your financial affairs in the future. You should let them know where your important financial files are kept, and give them at least a general idea of what types of assets you hold and where they're held. Organize and update your records and make sure they're accessible. Martin Kuritz, a retired financial planner, and author of The Beneficiary Book a family information organizer, suggest putting aside three copies. One should be kept in an accessible place in your home. A second copy should be left with a nearby family member, friend of advisor. Kuritz also suggests keeping a third copy somewhere out of state. As Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, a natural disaster can wreak havoc on an entire region. After a lifetime together, simply organizing the reams of accumulated financial records can be one of the biggest challenges couples face. Here are four things you and our partner should consider as you go about getting your finances in tune.

First, take a look at your day-to-day finances. If you typically pay the bills and balance the checkbook, consider sitting down each...

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