Your Questions, Answered: Finances with Your Spouse

September 3, 2020

On this week’s episode of Your Questions, Answered Suzanne Wheeler and Brian Leitner discuss finances within your household, and answer the following question:

“How do I get my wife more involved in our finances?”

Do you have questions you’d like answered? Email them to [email protected], and we’ll provide answers.


Brian Leitner: You have questions, we have answers. Back with another quick clip. And today I’m joined by Suzanne Wheeler, a senior wealth advisor in our Amarillo, Texas office. Suzanne, thanks for being here today. 

Suzanne Wheeler: Thank you for including me. 

Brian: So Suzanne, we had a question that came in recently. It is by a husband and he doesn’t give his age, but he’s sort of the financial spouse in the relationship and his wife is the nonfinancial spouse. And he’s at the point where I believe he’s getting older and he’s concerned that his wife really wouldn’t know what to do, where to turn as it relates to their finances, if he’s no longer around. I’m sure you’ve seen this situation before. I think it’s sort of common. But you know, what’s your advice and thoughts around this to help this individual? 

Suzanne: You know, it is a very common situation, and I think it’s as we are building careers and raising children, you have to divide and conquer as far as what goes on in the household. And so, you know, when there is more time, we forget about engaging the other spouse. And so, I think it’s very important. I mean, Brian, you do it with your household. I know you’ve talked about you had the fire drill. 

Brian: Right. 

Suzanne: And it’s an annual basis and I feel like it’s on Christmas or New Year’s Eve or 

something, but which is a kind of an odd time, but not surprising for you, but, it’s a wonderful thing to do because you never know when the situation is going to come up, that you have to step in and be the decision maker. And so I think it’s nice to engage, the spouse, whether it’s the husband or the wife, whoever is not engaged.  And at least, you know, have them commit to a one meeting so they can get to know the advisor and create their own relationship and know where the accounts are being held. Know who’s managing, where, what properties do you have. And what I always say is don’t sign something that you don’t know about it. You need to know about that property.  

Brian: I think when we look at couples, the reality is it’s not his plan or for plan or something of that nature. It’s their plan. And so even if there is a non-financial spouse that’s not interested in understanding A, B, and C. At the same time, they can’t have their head in the sand and they really need to know at a minimum, you know, some of the information that’s there, where it turn and have at least a high level idea of what the plan actually is. And I know that you do something a bit unique in your own practice when working with that, Non-financial spouse. You want to comment on that? 

Suzanne: Sure. A lot of times I find that it’s helpful if you have separate meetings. Because maybe some of the questions that aren’t asked that need to be asked because somebody feels like, it sounds like a stupid question, which I hate when they say that because what if I don’t know the answer? But, I prepare a glossary for that non-engaged person. And I try to meet with them on an individual basis to hear what their concerns are. Do they know where their documents are? Do they know what the plan looks like? And some of that is visual, not everybody, you know, looks at numbers and knows what they need. But what’s the flow? What would happen if something happened to my husband? Who should I call first? What documents do I need? And what does that do to our plan? So having that knowledge really helps. 

Brian: Suzanne, that’s great. I mean, communication is obviously critical and then not only having your financial planning order, but having a plan to understand, you know, if the financial spouse is no longer around or frankly, as we all get older, we get to be forgetful and things of that nature.  Just a good idea to have a plan today to help you execute on your actual financial plan. Right? 

Suzanne: Exactly. Exactly. A tailored approach.  

Brian: Thank you very much for being here. Thanks for answering the question. We appreciate your expertise. 

Suzanne: Thank you for including me and take care. 

Brian: If anyone has any questions that they’d like to email us and have answers to email us at [email protected]. Thanks for watching. 

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