Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Cost of Couplehood

Women who are married or who are sharing their family finances with a partner are prone to different financial missteps than their single friends. If you're part of a couple and you are not currently involved in co-managing your family finances with your partner, you may be at risk for making a one or more of the following mistakes. But never fear: WISER is here with ways to fix and avoid the 5 money mistakes made by women in couples.

Mistake 1: Not Being Involved in Managing the Family Finances

No matter who is writing the checks, financial decisions should be made together. Make sure you know where your family’s money is, what investments each of you has and what the investments are worth.

Mistake 2: Using Your Money for Everyday Expenses...

...while your partner's money goes into his investments that continuously grow in financial worth. Women often watch their money disappear into living expenses for their home and family, such as groceries or back to school shopping. Try to share everyday expenses with your partner and put some money towards investments of your own.

Mistake 3: Trying to Pay for Half of Everything...

...when you can't really afford it. Though you and your partner may share expenses, your individual incomes should be taken into consideration when you decide how to share payments and bills. If your partner makes more money than you, it's okay to let him pay more than you. It is a good idea to create your own budget to determine how much you are able to pay for shared expenses, such as rent or food.

Mistake 4: Not Getting Professional Advice Soon Enough

This is particularly true for women going through divorce, or another major change in their lives, such as marriage or widowhood. You may be liable for any debts your husband acquires while you are married. If your husband is hiding income or depleting money from jointly held accounts, you should seek legal assistance as soon as possible. In addition, you need to divide a pension at the time of the divorce—not when your husband retires.

Mistake 5: Not Realizing that You May End Up on Your Own Some Day

Half of all marriages end in divorce. In addition, women often marry older men and have longer life expectancies. It is a good idea to be prepared to manage your own finances, even if it never happens. One way to protect yourself is to make sure your name appears on all of your family accounts and investments, either solely or as a joint owner. This establishes your legal right to at least part of these assets if your marriage ends or if your partner becomes ill or incapacitated.

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