I thought my husband and I were. We spend many hours going over budgets, defining our short- and long-term goals and reviewing investments. I sorted receipts and wrote checks while he keyed the entries into Quicken. Both of us had an idea of what was spent and where the money went. We were a family-finance team -- or were we?
For all couples who believe they are a true team when it comes to family finances, I have just one question for you: Do both partners know the password to your money management software?
Last month I had the chance to discover that my husband and I weren't a team. He was rushed to the hospital early one morning. We worked well together, but if one of us was incapable of doing his or her part, the other was not prepared to take over those duties. Suddenly, I had to handle all of the family finances, and I didn't even know the password to get into Quicken! While this hasn't been the most pleasant time, I learned a lot of things that I should have known as a member of the team:
-- Passwords for money management software, home banking, investment accounts
-- Who to contact at HR at his company if there is a problem
-- What the company allows for disability, short- and long-term
-- Limits on medical coverage, and authorization procedures
If you are part of a true investing team -- congratulations! Trade responsibilities occasionally, to make sure both partners understand the job. If you and your partner are still struggling to make a team, then print this out to share. The family's financial health might depend on the uninvolved partner becoming more involved.
Just when you think it will never happen to you, remember that it can. It happened to me.