10 Things You and Your Spouse Should Know About Your Finances

It seems inconceivable, but the Couples Retirement Survey by Fidelity Investments recently revealed that over 40% of couples don’t know how much their partner earns. Yet having a solid understanding of your financial status as a couple is crucial to planning, budgeting and saving toward your goals. To get in sync, make sure you have the answers to these questions.

  1. Do we have any financial secrets? Talk about your debt, obligations, past mistakes (e.g., credit cards, student loans, alimony, liens or foreclosures) and what you learned from them. Get familiar with your credit scores and histories.
  2. How do you view money? Talk about your values (e.g., whether you’re a spender or a saver), how you use debt and the role money has played in your life.
  3. How much do we earn? Include bonuses in your tally and consider your future career goals and earning potential as well.
  4. What’s our budget? Do you know your cost of living? Is it below your means? Can you save for future goals? Create and maintain a budget together.
  5. What do we own and owe? Take inventory of your collective assets and liabilities: property, insurance policies, bank, retirement and brokerage accounts – anything that involves money.
  6. Where’s our emergency fund? How much is in it? Is it titled in both our names so we’ll have ready access should the unexpected happen?
  7. How realistic are our goals? What trade-offs are you willing to make to achieve what you want as individuals, a couple and a family?
  8. How much are we willing to lose? Has your risk tolerance changed? Once you’ve completed your budget, you’ll both be better aware of what you have in investable assets and how flexible you can be with potential loss.
  9. How much are we saving for retirement and where are the accounts? Keep track of your 401(k)s, including ones from previous jobs; IRAs; CDs that are dedicated to retirement; how much you’re contributing; and whose name is on each.
  10. What will happen when one of us passes away? Estate planning, including writing a comprehensive will, sets up contingencies to help ensure your family is taken care of after the loss of one or both of you.

Next steps:

  • Set a date to talk money, including the questions above as a starting point.
  • Compile all of your account numbers and passwords in a secure place for easy reference.
  • Once you’ve talked through your goals and commitments, schedule time with your professional advisors to ensure your financial plan aligns with your needs.

Material prepared by Raymond James for use by its advisors.

Comments are now closed for this article.