How to Get Your Spouse To Make Smart Financial Decisions – Just in Case

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

You might be good at making smart financial decisions but how about your spouse or significant other? Is he is a financial blockhead (and I say that with utmost respect of course)? If so that will sink your ship sooner or later – guaranteed.

If your spouse is making bad money moves it’s a no brainer that it’s critical to get him in line. But even if he isn’t causing a problem now, it’s still important to get his mind right. What happens to your family if you aren’t here? If that happens, all your hard work flies out the window and your family’s financial future goes down the drain along with it. Even if your spouse has the best intentions, if he doesn’t know how to manage family financial planning, it’s up to you to teach him how to make good financial choices for that eventuality.

1. Buy In

There is no power on earth that can get your honey bunny to engage with family finances if he isn’t into it. But if he is crazy about you he surely doesn’t want you going crazy with worry….right? He might think there isn’t a problem because you are in charge. But tell him you want to make sure he can handle things just in case. It’s no fun to think about death of course. But since nobody knows when their time is up, the responsible thing to do is plan for worst.

If you are concerned, let him know. And keep letting him know until he fully grasps just how serious the situation is. Once he understands how you feel there is a chance he will get with the program. Talk about why understanding finances is important to you and how it makes you feel when he isn’t involved.

At this point, all you are asking for is his commitment to train to be your financial co-pilot.

2. Financial Flight School

Once your spouse signs on, it’s up to you to bring him up to speed. Just do so at a rate that won’t overwhelm him. I suggest that you schedule an hour each week to go over your financial situation. Meet each week on the same day and time and calendar it. This increases the odds of the meeting actually taking place.

During the week, plan out what you are going to cover during the upcoming “lesson”. Here are the modules that my wife and I went over when we went through this together:

  1. Income Replacement.
  2. Bill Paying.
  3. Reconciling bank accounts.
  4. Budget tracking.
  5. Important documents and contacts.
  6. Life Insurance.
  7. Real Estate.
  8. Investments and Investing
  9. Retirement

You can see that it only takes about 2 months of weekly 1-hour meetings to transfer your genius brain power to your currently clueless spouse. Not a bad tradeoff considering the payoff. Agreed?

3. Simplifyfinancial decisions

In order to help your spouse ease into your family’s financial cockpit, keep things simple. Solidify your financial situation as much as possible. Get rid of unnecessary bank accounts and consolidate your investments.

A great way to simplify your banking is to open an account with EverBank. They have a rate guarantee program that basically insures you’ll always earn very competitive rates. They even pay interest on checking accounts, they have business and personal accounts and they provide all this for free with very limited charges. I love these guys and I think you will too.

Put a binder together that has the relevant information your spouse might need and update this information aally. This step has the added benefit of making your life easy to manage right now. Win-win.

4. YouTube

You might think this step is a little over the top, but I suggest you make videos on YouTube explaining the different elements of the 9 steps detailed in point 2. And don’t worry. No matter how entertaining you are, these vids won’t go viral. Set up your own channel and just make sure to make your creations private rather than public – and keep the cute cats away from the camera.

Actually, I suggest you stay away from the camera as well. You can buy inexpensive software that captures what is on your screen as you narrate. For added security, keep your account numbers and passwords off the screen – but reference where your spouse can locate the information in the hour of need.

5. Time for A Solo Flight

Before someone gets his license to fly, he has to pilot a plane by himself. It’s time to put your spouse in the financial flight simulator by transferring some financial responsibility right now. To start off, put him in charge of paying bills and reconciling the bank account. Set a time to review the work together each month and be patient if he makes mistakes. Everyone does.

Over time, ask him to take control of budget tracking too. Once he gets up to speed on these tasks, bring him into the investment, retirement and insurance decisions. This will empower both of you.

6. Revisit

Don’t expect perfection and don’t get frustrated. This is all new to your spouse. It will take time for him to get it. (That’s another reason why the YouTube videos are great – they are wonderful tools your love dove can reference whenever he wants.)

Just don’t be surprised or angry if it if he doesn’t stick with it. He’s only human. Gently work together to get back on schedule. Even Coca Cola has to remind us all the time to drink their magic elixir. Don’t be surprised if you have to remind your spouse to stick with it.

7. Plan B

The best laid plans often go awry. Have a backup plan in case your spouse doesn’t get it. This might mean you need to connect with me.*. An alternative is to ask a good friend to takeover should an emergency occur. Either way, you’ll have to bring this other person up to speed and share your information to enable them to do their job.

Help your spouse to make good financial decisions. You can accomplish this over time by first sharing your knowledge and then transferring responsibility over time. Not only will this help you sleep better at night, it will bring you both much closer at the same time.

Are you in charge of all the finances? Are you concerned about how your spouse might make decisions? What are you doing about it?


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