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May 07, 2009


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Oh man. If my DH gave me powerpoint presentation on our finances, I'd probably divorce him on the spot. Extremely condescending.

Just a thought: if your wife is that ignorant of your finances, perhaps its high time to let *her* balance the checkbook/do the taxes/handle the budget/deal with the investments for a while! Nothing worse than a grown adult who had no idea how to do these things.

Ouch, I agree with MC. While it is wonderful that your wife and you have such trust that she only needs to be updated 1x a year on where you stand, it should be very scary for her. What will she do if something happens to you? I am sure you have everything covered like insurance etc., and you have mentioned how frugal she is, but what about the basics of being able to manage the finances? Although not rocket science, it can be a pretty daunting thing for someone who has not practiced that in many years....reminds me of what happened when my father in law passed away.....

MC --

It's not that she can't handle the finances, she simply doesn't do it. The same way I'm sure you and your DH divide up responsibilities, we do the same. My wife handles the medical bills/tracking the various payments, paperwork, etc. and the electronics in the home (she's very good at setting up TV and stereo systems) while I handle the finances and the computers. And so on and so on.

She certainly knows how to balance a check book and handle a budget -- where did you ever get the idea that she didn't? We've taught both of those for years (both of us together), and if truth be told, she's a better budget hawk than I am (though I am good, IMO.)

The investments and taxes are a bit different. I use the PowerPoint to update her on the investments, so she knows what we have, where it's going, etc. On the taxes, we use a CPA (as I've stated here about a million times), so if anything ever happened to me, we'd certainly be covered in that area.

BM --

See above. Also, read the piece I wrote yesterday regarding putting together an "after I die list" for my wife (she needs to put one together for me too BTW). It's here:

For both od you (as well as future commenters) --

I'd be interested in how you divide the financial responsibilities in your home -- who does what, for how long, etc. -- and how you keep the other informed.

From what I have seen, families who split the financial duties usually do so becuase no one person really stands out in this area of expertise. Usually, its 2 people working together to make sure that the checking account is not overdrafted, all bills get paid on time etc. 2 people working together to be sure that the bare minimum is taken care of. Follow me? Neither person really feels that confident, so, it is like, "if I have to do this, you have to do it with me."

I work in a profession where I come into contact with very successful people on a daily basis: (read: I meet with multiple millionaires on a daily basis, and have done so for awhile). I find that 99% of the time, very financially successful couples have one person who really takes control, and would be considered an "expert" by most American households.

Some might argue that the people in that example learned how to manage money becuase they have a lot of it. I disagree. I believe that they have become financially successful because a leader was present in that area and took control, and made solid decisions.

I have also seen my fair share of people who earn a really high income, and have a net worth less than I do. (I am 2 years removed from college, making about what you would expect a finance grad to earn right out of school). In these cases, the 2 people that make up the couple are really good at making sure the payments on the Mercedes are up to date. But no one really steps up and provides and financial leadership, or plans for the future.

This is a great tip.

I used powerpoint to make a flowchart for my partner of how and when to pay our bills if something were to happen to me. He's very visual, and it was too hard to write out anyway.

Dog --

Oooooooo...that's a great idea. Maybe instead of a list for "what to do when I die" I should make a flowchart. Seems like it would be much easier to do and communicate.

Jeeze, why don't you start up an LLC and do business with her too!?! I'm with MC. Work on being a couple and being interested in what the other's interests are. Heck, you might find yourselves more pleasant and loving to be around. Marriage is not a business, it's love. That is why I disagree with separate finances as well.

Tyler --

Who said we're not interested in the other's interests? I guess we're not if you include basic division of duties like taking out the trash, cooking, cleaning, yard work, etc. Is this what you mean -- that we should be more interested in the other's basic household duties and that this will make us more pleasant and loving? It's what you seem to be saying.

We have many interests in common (you'd know them if you're a long-time FMF reader and are paying attention), but simple tasks that we perform to keep the household functioning aren't among them.

BTW, I love how people read into posts, make assumptions one way or the other, and like to criticize others where there's really no substantiation for such. It's one of the "joys" of writing on the web that I never seem to get tired of...

I must say that this a fantastic idea........

I don't get why some folks are upset by this idea. Good communication is good......right?

If my wife made a PPT presentation about a subject I have little expertise in, I'd appreciate it.

And by the way, who says that just because he used a power point, the wife wasn't informed?

It's just a clear, concise way to communicate. And if you don't believe me....I'll make a powerpoint presentation to explain it to you!

I think the PowerPoint sounds like a great tool, especially as it's been developed over time to work for you and your wife. I'm curious if you'd be willing/able to provide a template of the document (without the specifics from yours, of course). It seems like something to incorporate to provide my husband updates on our own finances.

It seems to me the dissenters of this post are perhaps projecting their own situation. If it works for you, great; if not, who cares? There's no need to criticize someone else's methods because they wouldn't work for you. Why suggest someone's marriage is faulty as he's giving tips on having open, honest communication?

Bekks --

I thought about posting a copy, but it's not that impressive. I simply selected one of the PP basic templates and started typing away...

I don't always agree with FMF, but I am not understanding why a few people think this is so horrible. We take a similar approach in our household. My wife is more than capable of doing it herself if she wanted, but given the way our job responsibilities and other home responsibilities break out the finances are my area. The powerpoint, or whatever tool you use, is just a way to provide a report or snapshot and it is really a tool for starting point larger discussions about financial and life goals. I think splitting financial responsibilities would lead to a lot more work. It is not like only one spouse is making all the decisions, they are just responsible for tracking and executing on joint decisions.

To those criticizing FMF, your posts come across as reacting from being offended. "If my DH did this I would probably divorce him on the spot. Extremely condescending" ... etc.

There appears to be some projection going on here from some deeply held beliefs about the "equality" of men and women in a marriage relationship.

It also sounds like you generally believe marriage is a 50/50 proposition. My experience is that nothing is a 50/50 proposition in life or in marriage. Both couples may be equal in value to the relationship but you don't split all tasks 50/50. This is impractical and if you attempt to do it, it's also highly inefficient. Why is it condescending or offensive to have 1 person handle all or most of certain tasks while the other does all or most of other tasks? There is no saying it has to be the man handling finances either. Maybe the woman is far better and more interested in it. My experience is that is less common but certainly not unheard of.

For example, my wife handles all the issues with respect to our children's schooling and education. A few times I have had to do something for one of our children at or through the school. I have no idea what I am doing. I have to call her and ask her how I am supposed to get something done, or what information or procedures I need to follow. I have told her if something happens to her I won't know how to get our kids educated because I won't know the procedures the school system requires. If that were to occur I would need to contact the school and take a crash course in their procedures. But this is acceptible. I don't want to have to be in depthly informed on all kinds of tasks that I rarely need to do. I don't have time for that. I have things I need to focus on just as she does.

What FMF is doing is actually making sure that his wife is prepared if something happens to him even though he has the focus on the long term financial growth for their family. This is neither bad nor offensive. And as one financial advisor commented here, this is how typical successful arrangements work. The real problem is when the person handling the finances doesn't tell the other person much of anything about what is going on and unfortunatley that happens a lot.

Anyone want a 50/50 doctor, 50/50 mechanic, 50/50 pilot? No you want a subject matter expert and it's not offensive to other people in the area that there is a subject matter expert working with them.

As FMF commented, it is amusing how people take their own biases, react prematurely and start judging other people without knowing much about the situation at all.

Some of the negative reactions in the comments seem totally out of left field. You'd think FMF said pets are expensive again or something. :)

I don't know how FMF sitting down with his wife once a year to review their financial situation could be so evil in some peoples eyes. Maybe its because they got the perception that FMF's wife has no control or input on the situation or that the use of PPT makes it too impersonal? If so then they are reading too much into it and making assumptions.

I don't go as far as a PowerPoint presentation, but I do occasionally email my wife Excel screenshots whenever we make a big debt reduction or I work out the financal impacts of a new house, mortgage, children... all of which are coming up this year!

I don't think it is bad at all. In my house I am the person who handles the finances, it is just not my husband's strong point. He is really smart, a clinic director with a Doctorate. I don't use PowerPoint but I have used excel spreadsheet charts to help him visualize our money.

It worked really great when we were first starting out and trying to have better finances, I made a chart on how much money we were spending on take out food and that really helped motivate him to help me make better choices.

Heck, it is how people report financial information to stakeholders in a business. How is this different?

There are many relationships where people don't share the information at all, I think that is worse.

And I have already made instructions and a list of our accounts and finances, just in case.

I won't waste your time by commenting on how good this is for your finance and life. What I find most amazing is about this is how romantic and cute this is. Can't wait to be married and do the same thing. I don't know there's something about sharing a common goal, that's very sexy and charming. You know the money doesn't really matter as long as you are content with yourself and your life.

I take care of the income plus allocation of savings & investments. I track it in Excel & explain it to her every 2-3 months. My wife takes care of expenses & tracks it in a diary - I help back it up in Excel weekly. This has worked well for almost 5 years...
Mostly she relies on my judgment about overall financial plans and that worries me about "what-if" - I'm scared some friend/family-member/neighbor/banker will "help" her manage money and ruin everything due to incompetency and/or dishonesty. Too bad you can't take insurance for that!!!

Do what works for your situation I'd say.

My wife and I track our budget together, twice a month (the 1st and the 17th). I handle the day-to-day input into our spreadsheet, but we both stay aware of our current financial state (we both have graduate math degrees and love numbers.)

We've set up all of our paychecks/direct deposit so that we have just enough in checking to cover our expenses from the 1st to the 17th (when our main expenses hit) with a layer of emergency fund beneath it. On the 1st we talk about what expenses we expect and whether there's enough "wiggle room" for certain expenditures or if they should wait. From the 17th to the end of the month, we end up with a few hundred dollars extra, so on the 17th we discuss whether we should save or spend it and on what. The rest of our income (over 60%) gets directly invested.

Any time our financial circumstances change, we use our semi-monthly meeting to re-adjust our goals and expectations. We tweak deposit amounts, adjust discretionary spending, and generally make sure we're keeping our finances in line with our goals.

Our excel spreadsheet itself contains the following:

- "Core Budget" sheet. This contains each bit of spending, categorized into fixed expenses (rent, electric, etc.), groceries, fun, and all other "variable" spending. We use this sheet to track how much we're spending in each area and how much is currently in our checking account.

- "Asset Allocation" sheet. Here, we chart how much is in our IRAs, 401k, Vanguard funds, CDs, and savings.

- "Savings Ratio" sheet. Here, we take the spending from the core budget sheet and compare it to our total income (most of which is invested.) We calculate our percent savings/investment over the last 12 months as a rolling average.

- "Charts" sheet. One chart shows our spending in each of the four categories from the core budget sheet (stacked on top of each other) compared to our income, month by month. The other chart shows our assets, again stacked on top of each other, month by month.

I handle all of our money (making the budget, bill paying, retirement, insurance, investments). I discuss everything with my hubby, but he usually tells me to do whatever I think is best. I keep a list of accounts (phone, numbers & online passwords) so he has access to them if anything happens to me. I automated all of our recurring monthly payments so he never has to worry about them.

Once a month we discuss where we stand financially and review our savings goals. This arrangement works well for us. We decide our goals together, I make the plan, and then we execute the plan together.

My husband will be bored to death if I were to show him a presentation of our finances.

Kudos! to your wife for listening.

My husband does care about the money I handle it for both of us. However, I do have a folder of all important documents (will, assets, etc) within reach for him to go in case something happens to me

I would love a powerpoint telling me what I need to know about our finances. But, alas, my husband is clueless, then gets mad about where the money is going!

This is how things work in my marriage; BTW we are both in financial fields. I manage the budget and day to day of all financial matters for the family as well as research on better programs or whatever. DH is not too interested in the minutia. DH and I talk about goals and big picture issues to develop a path forward and I implement what we've agreed on. Since I do most of the family purchasing (groceries, clothing, kids stuff, etc) it works well for me to manage everything. Honestly, deep down I find it kind of fun. Monthly I try to send DH an update via email of the generalities of our NW trends. I used to try to 'bore' him with my spreadsheets but his eyes glazed over so I stopped that. There is some sense in our marriage that DH wants/needs to be more involved but I can't say either of us is unhappy with the situation. I have seen DH try to do this on a small scale for some of his businesses and it is painstaking for him to do and me to watch. While practice makes perfect sometimes, sometimes division of labor is the best answer. This might not be the ideal situation but it works for us.

I am the primary money earner in the household. My wife is the manager of the household.
She does the weekly budgeting, checkbook balancing and manages the rotation of emergency funds thru CDs (we have several rotating CDs in addition to our savings account for emergency funds. If something happens, we have access to an initial savings account fund and are never more than a quarter away from a larger CD maturing.) She also pays all the monthly bills and ensures the credit card balance is zero at the end of the month. (She also tells me when to use the debit card for a purchase or the credit card). I do not track the monthly ebb and flow of our money. She does.
I handle all the investing, mortgage management, 529 accounts, insurance and all other long term money matters. When we first married I managed everything. My wife worked, yet we barely made ends meet. The one big take away I had from the "Millionaire Next Door" was to have her manage the day to day finances. We made this change and have been happy ever since. I retained the long term investments while she focuses on the day to day workings. She has become much more frugal since she was "put in charge" of the checkbook and we save a much higher percentage of our income now than we did when we first married.

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