I met a woman who asked me some questions when she found out what I do for a living. This subject is one that all of you should be aware of. You wouldn’t believe how many people this affects.
Are you married or in a relationship with joint finances? Even when couples share accounts, living space, or property, it’s typically one person who handles the finances in a relationship – paying the bills, savings, investing, etc. But, the other person shouldn’t be left in the dark.
Because this is your joint future, both should know what is going on and how to access the information at any time. The definition of the word joint is defined by Merriman-Webster as “united, joined, or sharing with others”.
Both of you should be making decisions together, understanding where you are today with your money and where you want to go for the future. You should both know the names of your banks and investments and how to access these accounts if you use an online account. Think of it this way, if the person handling the finances is not able to do it – what would happen? Could you put food on the table? Would the utilities be on?
Remember, too, that your children can see how the money is handled in your relationship. What you do, and don’t do, shows them just as much as what you tell them.
I also believe that each person needs to establish credit in their own name and if you are listed as a co-owner on the assets you should also be listed as a co-owner on the liabilities. What that means is that if you own a home (your name is on the deed) you should also be on the mortgage.
Many partners are left out of the finances. If that’s you, and something happens to the person who handles everything, you are going to have a difficult time. You may find that the bank accounts that you thought were joint are not. You may find that you thought you owned the home you live in, but you don’t. You may find that you need to open a credit card or take out a loan and you have no credit in your name.
All this happens more times than I can count. If this describes you, then you need to have a conversation today with your partner. You need to what know what assets you have, what liabilities you owe and have a plan for moving forward to achieve your goals. The first step is having this conversation.