How to Get on the Same Financial Page

If I told you that over 40% of couples don’t know how much their partner earns, would you believe it? The Couples Retirement Survey recently published by Fidelity Investments revealed that this statistic is in fact true. My first thought was, “how can this be” and a close second was “what’s the best way for folks falling in the 40% to get in sync financially?”   

Here are 5 straightforward questions to help get the conversation started.

Getting to the answers may not be easy especially if there is no centralized management in the household. Ready – set – go!

  1. Do we have any financial secrets? Talk about debt, obligations, past mistakes and what you learned. Are you a spender or a saver? Develop a shared vision for the future.

  2. How much do we earn? Include bonuses in your discussion and consider your future career goals and earning potential as well. 
  3. What’s our budget? Do you know your cost of living? Is it above your means or below? Create and maintain a budget together.
  4. What do we own and what do we owe? Take an inventory or your collective assets and liabilities; property, insurance policies, bank and retirement accounts—anything that involves money.
  5. How much are we saving for retirement and where are the accounts? Keep track of your 401(k)s, including those from previous jobs; IRA’s and other accounts dedicated to retirement savings. How much are you contributing and whose name is on each?

The preceding five questions are conversation starters. Want to get started? Set a date to talk money using these questions as a starting point. Compile all of your account numbers and passwords in a secure place for easy reference and share with your partner. Schedule time with your financial planner to review your progress and strategize for a more complete understanding of your financial status as a couple which is crucial to planning, budgeting and saving toward future goals.

Laurie Renchik, CFP®, MBA is a Partner and Senior Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® In addition to working with women who are in the midst of a transition (career change, receiving an inheritance, losing a life partner, divorce or remarriage), Laurie works with clients who are planning for retirement. Laurie is a member of the Leadership Oakland Alumni Association and is a frequent contributor to Money Centered.


This information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.