Discussing Risk Management With Your Spouse

Life and Money

Discussing risk management with your spouse.

One of the most difficult issues for couples to resolve is how much risk they’re willing to take with their investments. According to Fidelity’s 2015 Couples Retirement Study, 47% of couples disagree about how much money they’ll need to maintain their lifestyle in their later years. Here are some tips to guide you on the road toward joint investment:

1.) Communication is key

Let your partner know you’re willing to research options together and come up with a plan. Erica Coogan, partner at Moss Adams Wealth Advisors in Seattle, recommends that each partner complete a risk assessment questionnaire and then compare answers.

2.) Remember that planning needs to cover both spouses

Experts advise couples to watch out for the “It’s my money because I worked for it” syndrome. Couples need to work together on a plan for investing (and spending) their money, regardless of who earns it. Apart from resentment, an uneven divide in the ownership of assets can make a mess of cash flow, estate planning and taxes.

3.) Consider transparency

Wherever you stand on risk, consider selecting some investments that are, by nature, transparent. This includes individual stocks, bonds and exchange-traded funds. You can also reduce risk by diversifying your portfolio across asset classes. A Financial Advisor can help with untangling the strands of modern-day investing.

4.) Think about your time horizon

Allowing an investment to compound leads to higher returns. If you’re more risk-averse than your spouse and you’ll need the money within 10 years, don’t hesitate to tell your partner to slow down. Remember that it doesn’t make sense, but is nevertheless true, that your money doubles in seven years if you earn a compounded annual return of 10%. Don’t let a little fumbled math lead to a rash or risky decision.

5.) Keep your goals in sight

Your mutual goals will determine how, and how much, the two of you should invest. When do you want to retire? Do you plan to pay for your kid’s college expenses? Are you hoping to buy a house? Do you dream about starting a business?

Finances are one of the leading causes of separation. The more openly couples communicate about this potentially rocky topic, the less likely they are to panic when there’s a ripple in their plans or the market fluctuates.

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