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Manage family finances as a partnership

Manage family finances as a partnership

May 14, 2021

Today a case study.

A couple has been together for decades, and over the years they have divided household tasks. For the purpose of this article, we will assume the man is responsible for household finances including investments.

Sometimes one person takes the lead on financial matters. That is likely how other household tasks have been assumed.

On the surface, from a woman’s perspective that is a kind gesture. Her financial goal could be to maintain their comfortable lifestyle while avoiding the details.

We will further assume that he very much enjoys this subject, and she does not.

There is one problem.

Women generally outlive men and for many couples the woman is younger.  The end result is she might live the last decade of her life on her own.

Suddenly, in the later stage of life she inherits the responsibility for managing finances.

The act of kindness of his handling those tasks in the past suddenly becomes an obstacle.

Now financial management is her responsibility.

We have a few recommendations.

Try and have both of you attend financial meetings. If cash flow projections are part of your service, allow her to see how future cash flows will be available during her anticipated length of life.

He can still take the lead but working as a partnership allows her to be familiar with family finances which will be important if he predeceases her.

We recommend there be a written Investment Policy Statement. This explains the logic behind how their portfolio is managed to be suitable for the couple’s objectives and circumstances.

The timing of this article was deliberate because this Sunday is Mother’s Day.

A couple’s life is a partnership. We encourage personal finances to also be a partnership.

Peter Watson, of Watson Investments MBA, CFP®, R.F.P., CIM®, FCSI offers a weekly financial planning column, Dollars & Sense. He can be contacted through