This morning, I read an article about women and money. I won’t link it here, but the basic point was “Women usually let the men in their lives take care of the finances, and there are things they should know.” I have to admit, I felt the whole concept was condescending, but at the same time, it’s probably true, especially for a certain generation. While I believe my grandparents share the responsibilities, or at least the information, I’m sure that wasn’t true for their whole lives (they’re in their mid-80’s). I know many of my grandmother’s female friends have no idea about their family finances.
Of course, the idea goes both ways. Frequently in a household, one partner takes care of the bills. It’s probably easier if one person takes control of the financial situation, but control doesn’t mean that they keep all of the knowledge as well. Men and women should both know the basics of their financial situation. What are the bills and how do they arrive and how are they paid? What sort of investments exist and are they for retirement or are they other investments?
Now, especially when you’re young, you don’t want to have to think about the possibility that you or your spouse/partner might die, but that’s not the only reason to be sure everyone knows the financials. What happens if one partner gets sick and lands in the hospital? You don’t want to miss bills because you didn’t know to pay them.
In general, I think that you should know the basics of your financial situation. Maybe one partner decides they want to be willfully ignorant about how much real estate tax they pay. I suppose that’s fine, as long as the other partner ensures the payments are made. I think a good plan is to keep a list of the basic bills – be they monthly, quarterly, yearly, whatever, and approximately how much each one costs. (This is something I do just for budgeting purposes. If I pay $600 in car insurance every six months (I don’t, I just chose $600 for ease of math), then each month, I should set aside $100, so that when the bill comes, I’m ready. ) By keeping this sort of a list, both partners can be aware of the financial responsibilities and have a bit of a cheat sheet if they should ever need it.
In addition, it’s never a bad idea to create a list of all the accounts each partner has – be it credit cards, bank accounts, retirement accounts, or other accounts. It seems like a lot of information, and it is. But it saves a lot of stress should the list ever be needed. And you just hope that it isn’t needed for a good number of years.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.
I have to say that I handle the finances in my house. I am a mid-30’s male, and it has nothing to do with gender per se.
I think I’m just more interested in money and finances than my wife is. Maybe the interest is gender based, but I think it’s probably based more on the family a person grows up in.
If someone grows up in a house where the parents don’t talk about money, then that person is more likely to have money problems. Similarly, I think if a girl grows up in a household where the father handles the finances, she’s less likely to see that as something interesting in her life.
I have 3 daughters (age 1,4 and 5) and my wife and I believe strongly in educating them about money. I hope to turn them each into finance geeks by the time they reach college. 🙂
I grew up in a Navy family – with dad deployed roughly 50% of the time…mom handled all the finances due to his extended absences/unavailability (hard to pay bills when your boat has to surface to send/receive mail). So my role model was obvs. that women handle the day to day. DH & I have separate finances until his tax woes are resolved, but both of us do have a master list of accounts/passwords/bill dates, etc in the event something should happen that would require the other to pick up the reins.