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When you are married, investing is a tag team sport. Even though I have two finance degrees and have managed a portion of a $500,000 investment fund, I still consult with my wife when making investment decisions.
If you are married or have combined finances with a partner, your investments should be a team effort as well.
Let’s take a look at how to best manage investments with a spouse to ensure you both come out of the experience with more trust and respect, not a blame game nightmare.
Everyone Starts with Personal Finances Alone
No one goes into their personal finance journey with a partner. For me, managing my money slowly ramped up with my first job in high school.
I handled virtually everything on my own through college, and everything on my own since graduating ten years ago. (Holy cow, I graduated from college ten years ago!)
For most of the next five years, I handled all of my money decisions solo. It worked well for me, as I paid off a car loan in half of the five-year term and my $40,000 student loans from my MBA in two years and six days. All the while, my income, savings, and investments marched steadily upward.
But one day, my girlfriend moved in and things slowly started to change. When we got married, we fully integrated our bank accounts and investments to manage as a family.
Now, all of a sudden, my investment decisions impacted two people, not just me. So, would it be fair for me to make those decisions in a vacuum? Definitely not.
Building Trust with Money in a Relationship
After we moved in, our first step toward combined finances was our monthly living expenses.
When my wife moved in, I already owned a condo with a mortgage and HOA dues, so we split those costs in half and each paid our own way. We also split utilities and traded off buying groceries, but didn’t track that cost to the penny.
Over time, we got to know each other’s money habits a little better and found that we were a great money match for each other. We have the same values of long-term savings and investments and both came into our relationship debt free, aside from my mortgage.
This paved an excellent foundation for building trust, which strengthened both our finances and our relationship. Ultimately our financial experiences have brought us closer together, while it is common for the opposite to happen.
Create Rules for Investment Decisions
Early on in our marriage, my wife and I agreed that purchases over $100 required a brief discussion to ensure we both agreed it was worthwhile.
We are not strict on this but still hold to it as a general guideline. The more need based a purchase, the less likely we are to talk about it. If it is a want, we may discuss even if it is below $100.
With investments in the stock market, almost every decision has a potential impact of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Because of this, we discuss nearly every investment.
That may be the best option for you, but setting clear rules for what discussions are needed for changes in investment accounts is important. It also helps you from falling victim to a “hot stock tip” that your spouse knows more about.
A Second Opinion Never Hurts
When your doctor tells you something outlandish, you may want to go for a second opinion. The same is true of any investment idea. While a strategy may seem sound in your head, saying it out loud to someone you trust can help flush out any problems.
While a strategy may seem sound in your head, saying it out loud to someone you trust can help flush out any problems.
If you share an investment idea with your partner, you are ensuring two people approve of the strategy before tinkering with your money.
While odds are your idea is spot on, there may be costs or risks you didn’t consider. Plus, in this case your second opinion comes from someone with the exact same goal as you.
Your Spouse May Surprise You
While I have years of investment experience and my wife is lighter in the stocks and investments department, she is no dummy. Just last year when oil stocks were in a downward spiral, my wife suggested buying a few oil stocks at the bottom.
After all, gas powered cars are not going anywhere for a long while in most of the world, so profits and oil prices were bound to come back at some point.
I had read about the idea and chatted about the idea with a friend, but never had the gusto to login and actually invest in something. My wife brought up the idea to me the next day, and I was sold and on board.
I logged into my favorite investment app and entered a buy order for three stocks. We have since made more than a few bucks on the investments we made that day.
Team Up for Investment Success
No one is infallible, and working with a spouse toward retirement, home purchases, paying for college, and more leads to far better results than working alone. If you are both novices to investments, you can look at this as an opportunity to learn together. If one of you is more of an expert, it is a teaching moment and an opportunity to show off your stuff and impress the person you share a bed with. Wink, wink.
f you are both novices to investments, you can look at this as an opportunity to learn together. If one of you is more of an expert, it is a teaching moment and an opportunity to show off your stuff and impress the person you share a bed with. Wink, wink.
Investing can be intimidating, but couples don’t have to go it alone. By teaming up with your life’s biggest teammate, you can set yourselves on a great path to investment success.