Often investing and money management falls to one spouse. This may be due to one spouse having better math skills or greater interest in investing. It is important for both spouses to know the family's finances though. Do you know why?
The reasons can vary from family-to-family. The primary reason is that relying on one spouse leaves the other lost when an emergency occurs. This can be as simple as a delay in returning from a business trip to hospitalization to death. The loss of the main money manager can leave the remaining spouse lost and deeply confused over their finances.
The best way to prevent this is for the money manager spouse to update their spouse on the finances once a month, more or less. You could update weekly as well. It all depends on your preference and how often your finances change. The important thing is open communication.
Several things your spouse needs to know include:
Important papers. Where are the familiesí important papers kept? This includes wills, mortgages, birth certificates, etc. Is there a safety deposit box? Where is the key? A safe? What is the combination? It is good to create a master list of information so that it can be easily consulted.
Accounts. Each spouse needs to know what investment accounts they have. Each needs to know the banks, brokerages, etc. in which investments are held. A master list of accounts and the contact information for each is a help here.
Beneficiaries. Each spouse should know how the accounts are named and who is a beneficiary. This may be straightforward and the easiest to remember. Many couples have each other as beneficiary and their children as second beneficiary. It pays to know how the accounts will pay out if a spouse dies. This applies to 401Ks and IRAs as well.
Debts. It is important to have a clear understanding of the debts owed. Credit cards and home equity loans are some examples to be discussed. Your spouse needs to know what is due, how much debt you have, and what plans are in place for repayment.
Collectibles, real estate, and other investments. Keep your spouse apprised of the value and extend of any collections or real estate you have. Include rental arrangements and maintenance agreements for real estate.
Overall the main idea is for the non-money managing spouse to have a good idea where to find financial papers in an emergency. It fosters good marital relations to have family finances clear to both parties. Plus, it gives the money managing spouse a backup if a problem occurs.
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Investing $10K in 2014 (Sandra's Investing Basics)