My husband trusts me with money so much that he looks at our finances maybe once or twice a year. His interest in our financial situation is pretty much limited to, “Do we have enough for this thing?” If the answer is, “Not right now,” he counters with, “What do we need to do to make it happen?”
At that point, he doesn’t look through our past spending, or follow my suggestion that we take a look at some handy graphs created by the personal finance software I use to track our finances. He just wants me to lay out the plan, telling him what needs to be done in order to save up the funds necessary.
He trusts that I’m setting money aside for the future (I contribute to our retirement) and for a rainy day (I use a taxable investment account as our emergency fund). When things are a little tight, as they are during the summer when his teaching load goes down, he simply expects me to let him know that we can’t go out to eat as much.
And, apparently, he’s not alone. According to a recent survey by COUNTRY Financial Security Index, 63 percent of married Americans completely trust their spouse’s ability to manage money. Interestingly, this same survey also indicates many couples don’t openly talk about money. My husband and I are kind of in that boat. We talk about our priorities, and what we want to spend money on, and we’re much better with shared goals than we were when we first married.
But, even so, for the most part we trust each other. Like 52 percent of married Americans in the COUNTRY survey, we don’t even ask spousal permission of each other before making purchases. (Interestingly, men feel as though they have to ask permission more than women do. Is this a result of the fact that, in many homes, women are more likely to make day-to-day purchase decisions? Perhaps they are more comfortable with spending money.)
The Effect of Children on Partner Finances
We all know that adding children to the mix tends to change the financial picture in many families. But what does it mean for partner trust? According to the COUNTRY information, 68 percent of those who have children at home trust their spouse’s money management skills; this is only true of 60 percent of those with out children at home.
Having children at home also tends to result in more couples managing their finances completely jointly. This isn’t true for my husband and me, even though we have a son at home. We have joint accounts, but I’m pretty much the be all and end all for money management in our family. So, I guess in a way, we do sort of fit that statistic. We don’t manage our money together, but everything is completely in one pot, no matter who earns it.
Discussing Money Before Marriage
The good news is that more young people are having the money talk before marriage. My husband and I really didn’t talk about finances before we tied the knot. It came up; we talked about debt and discussed merging our money. However, we didn’t talk about shared goals, or make plans, or talk about money management styles. (Part of that may have been the fact that we were married three months after meeting.)
However, according to the COUNTRY survey, 77 percent of 18 to 29 year olds talk about managing their finances before marriage. Compare that to 31 percent of those over 65 who say that they talked about money prior to getting married.
In the end, it’s important to trust your partner with money. Do you feel good about the spending choices your partner makes? Would you trust him or her to take care of your family after you’re gone?