It would be impossible to perform the critical job of planning, budgeting and saving toward retirement if you don’t know half of the equation. Nevertheless, many couples who share their lives together have no idea what their total household income is but still maintain that they regularly have open conversations about their finances. Huh?
A recent survey by Fidelity Investments revealed that many couples need a better understanding of their joint financial lives. That said, many elect to divide up the tasks of money management, bills, assets and debts. Although a seemingly equitable idea, it can leave one or both without all of the important financial details.
Both partners need to collaborate when it comes to financial planning, money management and decision-making. That means sharing the responsibilities of building and protecting their financial future.
To help with this, here are nine questions to consider when thinking about your financial lives:
- What’s your philosophy on money? Consider your values and whether you’re a spender or a saver, how you use debt and what the role of money is in your life.
- What’s our budget? Understand the cost of living and if you are able to save for future goals.
- What do we own, and what do we owe? Take stock of your collective assets and liabilities—that’s anything that involves money.
- Do we have an emergency fund? See how much you have and whether it’s titled in both names so you’ll both have ready access if needed.
- What are our plans for our savings? Determine if you’re funding a college education, buying a cottage on the lake or preparing for retirement. Fix your short- and long-term priorities and save for them as a team.
- How much will we need to live comfortably in retirement? Think about how each of you envisions the future so that you can plan, save and invest to meet that goal.
- What are we saving for retirement and where is it located? Keep track of all 401(k)s, IRAs and CDs dedicated to retirement. Also, know the amount you’re contributing and whose name is on each account.
- Where do we keep our important documents? Make certain estate planning documents are up-to-date and stored in a secure spot—along with tax records, insurance policies and other valuable documents.
- What will happen when one of us dies? Take the time to do your estate planning—including writing a will, powers of attorney and health care directives—so your family is cared for after the loss of one or both of you.
If you need help answering these questions, sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Reference: wjbf.com (August 24, 2016) “9 Questions to consider in planning your financial future”