Involve your Spouse in Financial Planning

I had fixed up a Friday evening appointment with the Nair’s family at their residence, for providing a brief introduction and presentation on Financial Planning. Mr. Nair kept his word of arriving home early as he smilingly opened the door and let me in.

After the initial introduction Mr. Nair gestured at me to go ahead and start the presentation while Mrs. Nair rushed to the kitchen to prepare some tea for both of us. I requested Mr. Nair if he could wait while his wife joined us and then I could start the presentation to which he replied that she wouldn’t understand financial matters as well as he did.

I politely insisted that she should equally take interest and should be aware of the basics at least, which would help both of them take important financial decisions going ahead. Mrs. Nair overheard our conversation and without wasting much time she readily joined us after we were through with the tea.

I have several such instances where the husband has not felt it necessary to involve his better half in discussing financial planning matters or to get a better understanding of the process. In most cases wives too feel that it’s better if their spouses handle all financial matters. The result is that in most cases wives even don’t know where important financial documents such as life insurance policies, Mutual fund statements and house agreement papers are kept.

A lot of times when I tell couples to write down their financial goals separately, I am not surprised to find out that the goals and priorities of both the spouses are different which clearly indicates that the couples do not indulge in joint consultation or sharing of views on financial matters. For some husbands, buying a bigger house is a priority while for the wives its children’s educational funding that bothers them the most. The wife generally gets importance when we start preparing cash-flow statement as most of the grocery, utility bills, maid charges etc. are managed by her and only she can provide most of the data on the expenses.

In order for couples to benefit from the financial planning process, the following measures are suggested.

  1. Start involving your wives into financial matters such as preparing a monthly budget or at least you can make her in charge of writing down your family’s daily expenses. This can be a good beginning point which will also increase her interest into other major financial matters.
  2. Begin with casual discussions on your family’s financial goals. Once you both communicate to each other about your priorities and concerns, then with mutual agreement, the couple can actually write down their goals in mutually agreed order. This will help increase focus of the couple who will from now on be aware of their priorities.
  3. Women should take interest in understanding the financial products that the couple owns or those which have been recommended by their financial planner. The planner can readily help in explaining the characteristics of the products and its impact on their financial portfolio.
  4. The couple should jointly maintain a file containing all important financial papers such as Insurance policies, Demat account statement, House property papers, etc. Husbands should keep their wives informed regarding the financial files that he may be maintaining. In case the husband / bread earner meets with an unforeseen tragedy, the spouse will at least be in a better position to take stock of all the financial papers in one file.

Having explained the above things to the Nair’s, it is heartening to note that now Mrs. Nair has taken the lead in managing the family’s budget and has even taken charge of filing the financial papers of the family. I wish this could happen in each family so we could have millions of financially literate and secure families.