A recent survey reports that more than 1 in 5 women who are in a committed relationship say they have little or no role in retirement or long-term planning.
And more than half of women in Fidelity’s Couple’s & Money Study say their partner is savvier about money.
Ladies, we really need to talk. Even if it is currently true that your partner is savvier about money, that is not an excuse to not engage.
I can’t believe I have to say this 21 years into the 21st Century, but here goes: Women must take responsibility for their financial security. I am not talking about what you earn, or who earns more. I am not suggesting a partner or spouse needs to hand over all the reins.
But ladies, you are so not standing in your truth if you do not take responsibility for, and participate in, the decisions that will determine your financial security.
To just say, “well he is better at it and likes doing it,” is an act of powerlessness.
Do I need to point out that divorce happens? Or that wives tend to outlive husbands? In either scenario, having to learn the financial ropes amid upheaval is going to be messy, at best. Who can learn amid emotional strain? Or make clear-eyed choices?
For those of you who have let this unhealthy dynamic persist for years (decades?) I am not letting you off the hook. You literally can’t afford to continue to be in the dark.
Nor should it be hard to start learning. Emphasis on learning. You are not looking to challenge or question the choices your partner has made. What you want is to understand the choices that have been made. And then use that as a starting point for conversations about the key issues that will keep your finances, and your relationship strong.
- Do we have at least a year of living expenses set aside for emergencies?
- Will we be able to consider having the highest earner delay Social Security so the surviving spouse will have the biggest possible benefit.
- Are we living below our means?
- Can we manage to pay off the mortgage before we retire? (If you plan on staying in your home)
- What’s our plan for paying for long-term care help down the line, since Medicare doesn’t pay for it?
Those should not be hard conversations. All you are doing is opening the conversation about what the plan is, and how you can reach those important goals. If you can’t imagine having those conversations, I want you to consider what that is saying about your relationship. Moreover, it also leaves you so vulnerable to having to learn everything later in life, and possibly learn some things about your financial security you didn’t know. Find out now, and you can work together to fix what’s not on track.
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