Financial Conversations You Should Have With Your Spouse

A colleague of mine at Fifth Third Bank shared an article with me titled, Financial Conversations You Should Have With Your Spouse. It is great information and tips on how to start a conversation with your spouse:


Forty-three percent of people don’t know how much their spouse earns. And that’s just one of the financial discussions that too many married couples keep to themselves — and that can set the stage for marital strife. To ensure you and your better half are on the same page about finances, use these tips to start the conversation.

1. Assess Financial Habits
First, look at how each of you currently spends your money. How much are you spending on the essentials (bills) and extras (entertainment)? You should also review last year’s expenses to get a full picture of where your money is going.

After looking at your current spending habits, discuss your short- and long-term financial goals, such as eliminating debt, saving for a home down payment or replacing a vehicle.

Once you’ve established your objectives, define specific strategies for accomplishing your goals. Do you need to cut back on eating out? Or maybe you need to spend less on your yearly vacation. Whatever you decide, make sure your plan of action is realistic, and fits your and your spouse’s financial situation.

2. Prepare for an Emergency
As one of your goals, talk about creating an emergency fund. Sixty-four percent of people in America wouldn’t be able to come up with $1,000 in an emergency.2 Don’t be part of this percentage. Plan how you’ll work together to prepare for the unexpected.

Even if paying down debt is a primary goal, plan to set aside some money every month for your emergency fund. After all, if you can pull from this fund, you won’t need to add to your credit bills in the case of an emergency. It’s recommended to have three to six months of your monthly expenses saved.

3. Prepare for a Crisis
Review your life insurance needs. You will want more than your employer’s standard one year of salary benefit. Assuming both spouses are working, you should consider purchasing term insurance between 5 to 10 times your annual income, more if you are in your thirties with young children or have large debt obligations (mortgage). Term insurance is affordable and can be purchased for 10, 20 or 30 years. Your Fifth Third advisor can get you quotes from 30+ different insurance firms.

4. Update Your Wills
Another essential discussion is how you want your assets distributed once you’re gone. In other words, it’s time to talk about your wills. Without this legal document, you could be leaving your spouse and/or children in a bind when you pass away. A will clearly establishes both of your financial wishes.

It’s a good idea to review your will at least every five years and whenever an important life event happens — like becoming parents or buying a home.

5. Revise Beneficiary Information
Along with your will, make sure you’ve named beneficiaries for your retirement accounts. Keep these names updated on the same schedule that you review your will. Similarly, revise as needed based on life events. For example, if you named your mother as a beneficiary and she has since passed away, make sure to update the information.

Karen Breen Elia


Karen Breen Elia & Louis M. Elia, REALTORS®, are brokers for homes, condos, and multi-unit properties on Chicago’s North Side.

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2951 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago IL 60657
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