It is not unusual in a marriage or relationship for one person to take on the responsibility of the household finances. The job of ensuring that the bills are paid on time, that the savings account grows and debt is paid off more often than not falls on the shoulders of one person, while the other is blissfully unaware. While this can be convenient it can also be problematic as I have recently discovered.
Despite the fact that I take care of all aspects of our household budget, I assumed that DH also knew about the important aspects of our finances. I was wrong.
We recently decided to make a few changes to our home loan. As it is a joint account, both DH and I had to answer a few questions for identification purposes. Questions like: What financial products do you have with us? Have you recently made any transfers to your account? As DH doesn’t handle our finances he couldn’t answer the questions, failed the identification test and we were not allowed to make changes to our loan as a result. While I’m glad that the bank doesn’t let any old person have access to our banking details, it was also very annoying.
It made me realise that if, heaven forbid, something happened to me, DH wouldn’t be able to access our savings, would have trouble making changes to our mortgage and wouldn’t know where our financial and other personal information is filed.
It was exactly this type of situation my mother found herself in when my father passed away a couple of months ago. My father had a habit of hiding important and valuable things when they travelled, in case the house got broken into. It took mum weeks to find the things that dad had hidden.
There are a few things that you can do to keep your partner in the loop and ensure that should anything happen to you, your other half will be able to take over the household finances with minimal difficulty.
- Take time to discuss your finances on a regular basis. Things like upcoming expenses, financial goals and financial health.
- Organise your financial documents and information well. Have a place for important papers and ensure that everyone knows where they are filed. Clearly mark them so that they are easy to search through if necessary. I know that it may be a security concern, but have a safe place for bank account details so that everyone knows how to access the household accounts if necessary.
- Inform your other half. I’m not suggesting that you prepare an entire PowerPoint presentation for your spouse (although you could if you wanted to) but if you’re the one tracking the bills, watching the debts and the savings accounts and keeping a budget, it’s a good idea to sit with your spouse and go through some key points on a regular basis.
One person taking on the financial responsibility in a marriage can ensure bills don’t get forgotten or double paid and the household finances run smoothly. If you do have the sole responsibility of the household budget, ensure that your spouse is kept in the loop so that they are able to help make financial decisions and if something should happen to you, they don’t find themselves at sea with the household finances.