I discovered something interesting yesterday. My boss doesn’t know how to handle his bills!
It was none of my business to know this, but during one of our conversations he happened to mention that his wife is away for a conference and he is supposed to take care of some their bills - and is basically having a hard time getting things done.
I didn’t think much about it at the time, but later, while walking home from school, I was wondering about how this reflects on the quality of communication of financial information between couples (for that matter…between two or more members of a family). I started connecting the dots from my previous conversations with friends and relatives, and realized that some sort of a *self-centered* financial management perspective was extremely common among families. For example, in most cases, the husbands dealt with all the stock market investments stuff - and the wives didn’t know absolutely anything about it; whereas, the wives dealt with groceries and household expenses - and the husbands didn’t know much about it. In all cases, the individuals were working for the family and their actions and intentions were not selfish. However, their financial knowledge was limited only to themselves (hence the term *self-centered*).
In the normal course of things, this type of approach could be considered as a part of an efficient distribution of responsibilities. But think about this for a moment - what happens to your finances in abnormal conditions in which you are unable to carry out your part of the financial workload? (various events can give rise to such situations; for example: call for military duty, accident, death, stressful times at work, and so on). In such cases, it is extremely essential that someone - with a similar level of financial knowledge as your’s - be available to take over your role and ensure financial stability….and this is not going to happen unless you have taken positive steps to share your financial knowledge with that “someone” who is going to take your place.
By the way, I am not talking about just having a will ready (in the extremely unfortunate event of a sudden death). A will only ensures the transfer of wealth in an orderly manner, it does not ensure wealth preservation. You can pass on millions of dollars to your surviving spouse (or children) but if you haven’t passed on your financial knowledge to them, those millions of dollars will probably vanish pretty soon.
You could also extend the importance of sharing financial knowledge to cases of separating couples. When together, they may have been rich, but when separated, both individuals might face financial difficulties - just because they never exchanged their financial knowledge with each other when they were a couple and now they can’t play the role of their missing partner.
Basically, the point is that we should regularly make efforts to communicate our financial knowledge to our partner (or a family member). Perhaps, switching roles often might help. Husbands: teach your wives to pick stocks. Wives: teach your husbands some household financial stuff. Keep some kind of a notebook to record information (including passwords) about all the websites/portals that you use for your financial transactions - and make sure your spouse (or a family member) knows how to access and use them. Without the proper exchange of financial knowledge, noble personal finance objectives may not serve their intended purpose.
Ah…so much for the train of thoughts that started with my boss’s little story.
If you have already taken steps to ensure that your personal finance knowledge doesn’t go to the grave with you, please feel free to share your tips with us.