The Financial Check Up: What Every Spouse Needs to Know

Feb 18, 2014 | Investing for couples

Part of my personal mission is to help people take control of their finances. It’s empowering, it’s important, and it’s a key part of cultivating a rich life. But friends and acquaintances sometimes confide in me that their partner “takes care of” their finances as a couple. “I know I should be involved, but honestly, Elle, I don’t want to be in charge of this stuff. What do I really need to know?”

What works for every couple is different, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing for one partner to take the lead on wealth management for your family. But even if your partner is the CFO of the household, you shouldn’t be in the dark. Your financial health depends on you working as a team, and that means that you need to be able to weigh in on important financial decisions that will affect you and your family’s future. You need to know and understand enough to have a decent grasp of all the moving pieces of your wealth.

Sit down with your partner on a regular basis for a “financial check-up.” Think of it this way: you schedule a regular appointment with your doctor; just to make sure everything is okay and so that any potential problems are detected early and nipped in the bud. Adopt the same approach with your financial health. Schedule your regular checkups according to how involved you want to be – monthly, quarterly, annually. And make sure you keep those appointments!

Here’s a checklist to get you started. Do you know the status of these key parts of your financial life?

  • All accounts held in your name, in your partner’s name, and in both of your names; the amounts and locations of these accounts
  • Any assets held jointly
  • Your major financial goals and overall investment strategy
  • Your long-term financial plans, including your progress on preparing for retirement


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