Fribble Attempting an Equal Partnership

Monday, January 31, 2000

My husband of almost 40 years had usually done the investment picking of our funds until four years ago when I took early retirement and began to have time to follow the market. As he has been retired for nine years, he was in very, very conservative tax-exempt bond funds and mutual funds that had conservative, low return results.

This year and last as interest rates rose, he lost value in them while the stocks that I liked (but wasn't invested in) more than doubled. I had been buying him excellent stock newsletters that we both read, but never acted on because he controlled the money and wouldn't change his investment philosophy.

I asked for half the money to manage and when he refused to transfer it into an account for me to manage, I had to get a lawyer to get an account of my own. Years ago he had put all the community funds into a broker account with his name alone on it, even though we live in Texas, a community property state, and I had always contributed my paycheck to our joint checking account, not keeping separate funds. We always lived below our means and saved a lot.

With my newsletter advice and The Motley Fool to bring me the latest financial news, I have done very well while he continues to lose book value, though the dividends and interest do offset some of that.

The point of this Fribble is this: If the spouse doesn't get involved early in these decisions, she may have to endure the results of years of sidestepping a fight in a personal financial way -- a lower standard of living when she should be living well -- or a showdown to get the unsatisfactory situation changed.

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