Are you and your partner working together to make long-term financial decisions?
When it comes to managing shared finances, you have options: combine everything, keep everything separate or combine some but not all. Although everyone agrees a joint financial approach is best for spouses, it rarely happens in today’s reality.
According to the 2021 Own Your Worth report from UBS, the world’s largest global wealth manager, nearly 100% of women and men believe women should be more involved in long-term financial decisions, such as investing, financial planning and estate planning. What’s more, women and men overwhelmingly believe that unless women are equally involved in these decisions, there will never be true gender equality.
Despite these strong beliefs, in heterosexual marriages, men continue to manage most of the finances. Seven in 10 men say they take the lead on long-term financial decisions, often believing they know more about long-term finances than their spouse. But there’s good news: Among men who take the lead, nine in 10 wish their spouse was more involved in long-term financial decisions.
Both women and men agree that making long-term financial decisions together would increase their confidence in the future, minimize financial mistakes and reduce anxiety about money. Currently, only about 20% of couples make long-term financial decisions together.
Surprisingly, this is even more common in younger couples. Prior to marriage, 88% of Millennial women said they planned to share long-term financial decisions equally or take the lead. But after marriage, only 15% of Millennial women make these decisions together. Fifty-one percent defer to their spouses—more than any other generation.
“Participation is the key to change,” says Carey Shuffman, head of the Women’s Segment at UBS. “It’s critical for women to take their seat at the ‘money table’ so they can actively design the life and legacy they want. Men can be instrumental allies in removing barriers so active participation is possible.”
“When couples participate equally in long-term decisions, they feel greater confidence in achieving their goals, greater satisfaction in their financial situations and less stress about money, so this is a very powerful step in any marriage.”
What are the first steps for equal financial involvement?
Every couple’s situation is unique, but the most important thing is to get started together. Schedule regular conversations about where your finances are currently and your vision for the future. Be open, honest and value each other’s opinions. To help share long-term financial decisions equally, ask each other some questions, including, What do you want to accomplish in your life? Who are the people that matter most to you? What do you want your legacy to be? What are your main concerns? How do you plan to achieve your life’s vision?
“When couples participate equally in long-term decisions, they feel greater confidence in achieving their goals, greater satisfaction in their financial situations and less stress about money, so this is a very powerful step in any marriage,” said Shuffman. “The importance of participation in long-term financial decisions doesn’t just apply to women in couples. Women who are not in a partnership can ask these questions of themselves, or speak with other trusted loves ones, peers or a financial professional to help them get started.”