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- Your spouse’s finances can leave you financially vulnerable
- October 10, 2011 11:11 AM
If men really are from Mars and women from Venus, then clearly the sexes are galaxies apart in their perspectives about money.
“I’m a big believer in premarital counseling for discussions about money,” says Dr. Joseph Guse, Marriage and Family Therapist, at The Psychology Center, Inc., in Chicago, Ill. “If you don’t share the same philosophy about money, at least you’re going to learn to agree to disagree. It’s a huge mistake to think you can change someone’s view of money.”
“Financial pressures are one of the main stresses couples face today. Having money like a fully funded emergency fund can create a feeling of security and a lack of money may cause fear,” says Brandt Spesshardt, CFP, and Partner at Steward Wealth Strategies.
One partner may have a checking, savings or investment account, but may have neglected to name his or her spouse as the owner or beneficiary. In the event of an unexpected death, or divorce, deciding how life insurance money is distributed could become complicated.
It’s important to plan for the unexpected problems that can occur. For example, what happens when one spouse has a medical condition?
A 2009 study illustrated the the potential for divorce based on money matters.
“If you know there is a health problem going into a marriage, you have probably done some insurance planning,” says Jack Dewald, Immediate Past Chairman of the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE). “You should take an inventory of that before you take on more financial obligations.”
Creating a household budget and financial plan can help couples get a good grip on expenses. Establishing a set day and time each week to openly discuss finances is a good starting point.
Because two heads are generally better than one, there is an advantage to a husband and wife working together as a team. Couples can create a budget together to meet their financial needs and plan ahead.
“Couples need to have a plan that is mutually agreeable,” advises Spesshardt. “I recommend couples take a financial course together, like Financial Peace University and Crown Financial. There are many great classes at local community colleges as well as at many churches.”
Determining finances as a team better enables a couple to bounce ideas off of each other and brainstorm the most efficient ways to save money. Splitting the workload can be more efficient, making it easier for couples to thoroughly research insurance policies best suited to their needs.
“Couples should make sure they have enough term life insurance to protect their family members that are financially dependent on them. Mortgage payoff, income replacement, future college funding and medical expenses are some of the areas that need to be considered when calculating the amount needed,” says Spesshardt.
How can a couple work together to prevent a breakup over finances?
“It’s something that requires work like every aspect of a marriage,” says Guse. “Have some very open discussions about what the goals are and just the physical act of writing goals down goes a long way to help not pull in two different directions.”
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