Discussing investing with spouse

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Blister
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Discussing investing with spouse

Post by Blister » Thu Jul 21, 2016 8:53 am

Getting older and nearing retirement I have been trying to simplify both my and my spouse's retirement accounts. Over the past few years with the deaths of our parents we have seen first hand how complicated people can make there finances. My mother in law had over twenty accounts at various banks and brokers and my wife as executor had to wade thru these in settling her estate. My problem is every time I try to discuss our finances with my wife it seems her eyes glaze over and she just wants me to handle it. Have others had this problem and how did you address it?
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Naismith
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by Naismith » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:00 am

"Finances" is a huge topic....perhaps if you break it down into specific topics and deal with them one by one.

Maybe start with goals--where you want to travel, what you want to do. Then it will make more sense how to manipulate the money to meet those goals.

As we are nearing retirement, my husband and I have a money talk every Sunday afternoon that we are in town....and we have six months worth of work to go....

Also, I think it is not bad if one person somewhat takes the lead. I was the one who was insistent that we needed a notebook. He looked it over and made great suggestions. I propose investments, he asks questions and generally eventually agrees before we go forward. So there is mutual involvement and transparency even though I am doing a bit more in this area.

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coachz
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by coachz » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:02 am

Yes, I have gone through this with my wife. The best way imo is to not discuss but teach. Everyday teach her more. What is a stock, what is a bond, can both be risky or safe, how? What is an index fund, why do people choose them. Why are fees critical. What are annuities, reverse mortgages and why would someone choose them. When to take Social Security and why.

There is a LOT to teach but if you get her learning then she will KNOW why she is on board with decisions you BOTH make.

My wife is very knowledgeable about investing because of me. When her company was bought out and they had a choice to roll their 401k over or get an annuity payout she actually gave a short speech on why it made sense to not take the annuity. I'm so proud of her.
Last edited by coachz on Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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David Jay
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by David Jay » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:03 am

Same issue here. You can only do so much, I have managed all retirement accounts (including her Roth) for decades.

A few years ago I have started with just a "summary" page, where I give an annual review of our overall position. We are only 2-3 years away from retirement so my spouse for the first time is starting to get a little bit worried about our fiscal readiness. That is opening the conversation.
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by Rupert » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:08 am

Some people just want to be told what to do and don't care to learn about investments. They're just not interested, and you can't make them change. So simplify your accounts as best you can now and leave your wife a letter containing detailed, step-by-step instructions on what to do after your death. For example, if she will receive life insurance proceeds, leave her instructions regarding how to use/invest those proceeds, e.g., first pay off mortgage, then pay off car, then invest what's left over 50/50 in X & Y funds in taxable account at Vanguard.

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randomizer
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by randomizer » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:11 am

Blister wrote:My problem is every time I try to discuss our finances with my wife it seems her eyes glaze over and she just wants me to handle it. Have others had this problem and how did you address it?
My spouse patiently listens, but her eyelids start to droop and eventually pretty much falls asleep. I am just grateful that she listens at all.
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goingup
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by goingup » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:11 am

You can't interest someone in something they aren't interested in.

Twice a year I inform my SO how things are doing. That appears to be plenty discussion! I wouldn't let your spouse's disinterest dissuade you from consolidating and simplifying your financial life.

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coachz
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by coachz » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:12 am

randomizer wrote:
Blister wrote:My problem is every time I try to discuss our finances with my wife it seems her eyes glaze over and she just wants me to handle it. Have others had this problem and how did you address it?
My spouse patiently listens, but her eyelids start to droop and eventually pretty much falls asleep. I am just grateful that she listens at all.
Tell her you are broke and you have lost all of your investments. Then when she wakes up say "nah, we're good but you really need to learn this in case I die today"

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coachz
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by coachz » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:14 am

goingup wrote:You can't interest someone in something they aren't interested in.

Twice a year I inform my SO how things are doing. That appears to be plenty discussion! I wouldn't let your spouse's disinterest dissuade you from consolidating and simplifying your financial life.
If they won't show any interest then they have no say in the decisions because they don't know anything.

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Letter of Instruction [LOI]

Post by cfs » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:17 am

Very important subject!

I am in the process of simplifying everything and have prepared a detailed letter of instruction [LOI] for my wife to take effect after my birth certificate expires. She just need to follow the LOI which contains every single account, every single phone number, every single point of contact, etc, this is a living document which I keep up-to-date. This document is located in my "pass down folder" located on my working desk with all my other legal document, she knows where to find it. My LOI includes directions to Vanguard to shift all our accounts to the Vanguard Target Retirement Income Fund at the expiration of my birth certificate. I have added to the LOI the contact information of two individuals I trust [Larry Swedroe and Rick Ferri] to be contacted if she needs some hand-holding. Good luck with your investments and good luck with your letter of instruction.

Thanks for reading.
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by mptfan » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:18 am

Rupert wrote:Some people just want to be told what to do and don't care to learn about investments. They're just not interested, and you can't make them change.
+1. Fighting reality is a fool's errand.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by RadAudit » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:23 am

Blister wrote: My problem is every time I try to discuss our finances with my wife it seems her eyes glaze over and she just wants me to handle it. Have others had this problem and how did you address it?
Had? No, I have this problem. And, I'm apparently doing a very poor job in addressing the problem.

Perhaps, the answer to the problem lies in your post. Your MIL had 20 accounts at various banks and brokers. I'd try to get that number down, if you can, if you have a similar situation in your own finances.

On a related note - I'm trying to get the number of funds I invest in down to a smaller number. I've got, essentially, a four fund portfolio. I'm debating on when I should go to a one fund portfolio and which one. (Ans: Not just yet. I like rebalancing the portfolio every couple of years. It's a mildly entertaining 5 minute exercise.)

On the upside, my DW has an excellent command of the check book and tracks current expenses like a hawk. All, I have to do is figure out how to get the money to checking and make sure there's enough to cover taxes in withholding - she has the rest covered.
FI is the best revenge. LBYM. Invest the rest. Stay the course. - PS: The cavalry isn't coming, kids. You are on your own.

Lou354
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by Lou354 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:24 am

My wife and I are similar. Go ahead and simplify. Automate things like contributions, rebalancing, and RMDs as much as possible, so things will run smoothly if and when you can no longer handle things the way you're doing now. What I've learned is that even though my wife wants me to handle things, she still appreciates being kept in the loop. Transparency makes her comfortable that I'm handling things responsibly and looking out for her interests. So you can still tell her what you're doing and why a little bit at a time and also keep her informed by copying her on emails that confirm transfers of money and things like that. From time to time she'll initiate a discussion, like when she has a question or if she reads an article that could be relevant. Just don't overwhelm her by trying to discuss lots of things at one time. Also it could be helpful to write down instructions to make things simpler for your wife or whoever takes over when you're no longer able to do so.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by carolinaman » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:33 am

I have the same issue with my wife. She is extremely risk averse and thinks I am gambling with our investments although I am a conservative investor with a 40/60 equity/FI portfolio. I am 71 and wife is 73. She has no interest in learning about our investments. There is only so much that can be done in this situation.

I have simplified our portfolio by consolidating everything into Vanguard except for CDs. I reduced my fund holdings to 2 bond funds and 3 equity funds, all very low cost funds. Average ER is .10%. CDs are in 3 large groups at 3 different credit unions.

I have documented everything and have an investment plan. I have shared our plan with our daughter, who has a degree in finance, and is pretty savvy with finances although she has not done the investing in her household. I plan to meet with my daughter to discuss this. My hope is that she will be able to guide my wife if I pass first. My wife will have more than enough in SS and survivor pension to cover her living expenses and we have no debt, so our investments should go towards our children and grandchildren unless she decides to go on a spending spree.

There are plenty of books on investing but there seems to be a lack of good books on retirement planning, especially for those who only have a limited interest on the topic. The best I have seen is "How to make your money last" by Jane Bryant Quinn.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by delamer » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:37 am

" she just wants me to handle it."

What specifically do you want your wife to do? Are there tasks that you want her to take over, like paying the bills? Do you want her to give you an educated opinion on your investment choices? Or are you just concerned with her handling things if you die before her?

Your approach needs to fit your goal.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by mrc » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:40 am

coachz wrote: Tell her you are broke and you have lost all of your investments. Then when she wakes up say "nah, we're good but you really need to learn this in case I die today"
I like it. But if it did that, I just might die that day :wink:
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in_reality
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by in_reality » Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:24 am

carolinaman wrote:I have the same issue with my wife. She is extremely risk averse and thinks I am gambling with our investments although I am a conservative investor with a 40/60 equity/FI portfolio. I am 71 and wife is 73. She has no interest in learning about our investments. There is only so much that can be done in this situation.

I have simplified our portfolio by consolidating everything into Vanguard except for CDs. I reduced my fund holdings to 2 bond funds and 3 equity funds, all very low cost funds. Average ER is .10%. CDs are in 3 large groups at 3 different credit unions.

I have documented everything and have an investment plan. I have shared our plan with our daughter, who has a degree in finance, and is pretty savvy with finances although she has not done the investing in her household. I plan to meet with my daughter to discuss this. My hope is that she will be able to guide my wife if I pass first. My wife will have more than enough in SS and survivor pension to cover her living expenses and we have no debt, so our investments should go towards our children and grandchildren unless she decides to go on a spending spree.

There are plenty of books on investing but there seems to be a lack of good books on retirement planning, especially for those who only have a limited interest on the topic. The best I have seen is "How to make your money last" by Jane Bryant Quinn.
Sound like you have a good plan.

I sympathize with having a spouse who views it as unnecessarily risky.

We're 50%-50% since she's 0% stocks. When she received a multi-year payment for being cut, and then found a new job right away, I maintained our AA at 50%-50%. Now she is furious about me stealing her money.

We have a child with a disability though so I don't see how we can go below 50% stocks -- we aren't even 50 yet and will need to leave something behind.

I keep her informed about how things are and massage her to calm her down when she starts thinking about how I am doing something she doesn't approve of. She's not the only love in my life though -- that child there has a neurological conditions that will impact the rest of their life.

I envy people who can discuss investing with their spouse in a rational manner. We both good savers but beyond that ... day and night.

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Re: Letter of Instruction [LOI]

Post by Engineer250 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:35 am

cfs wrote:Very important subject!

I am in the process of simplifying everything and have prepared a detailed letter of instruction [LOI] for my wife to take effect after my birth certificate expires. She just need to follow the LOI which contains every single account, every single phone number, every single point of contact, etc, this is a living document which I keep up-to-date. This document is located in my "pass down folder" located on my working desk with all my other legal document, she knows where to find it. My LOI includes directions to Vanguard to shift all our accounts to the Vanguard Target Retirement Income Fund at the expiration of my birth certificate. I have added to the LOI the contact information of two individuals I trust [Larry Swedroe and Rick Ferri] to be contacted if she needs some hand-holding. Good luck with your investments and good luck with your letter of instruction.

Thanks for reading.
I am young but thinking about doing the same for my spouse. List of accounts with passwords, long term plans for things. I like the idea of having them shift to a target date retirement fund to simplify things. Also thought about the Vanguard personal advisory service to simplify things for them if they don't want to handle it. Probably need some instructions on what they're supposed to do with my TSP. I know there are a lot of options for inherited TSP and some make more sense than others. We have a safe so I'd just update the sheet once a year and put it in the safe.

My parents have a will but did something similar. I haven't looked at the folder they provided me though as I didn't really want to think about it.

My spouse is interested, and chose their asset allocation after we rolled over their 401k to an IRA with Vanguard. In one sense we are in community property so everything is "ours" but I gave the spiel about asset allocation and what various people recommend for international versus domestic and they made the decision themselves. But generally not a ton of interest there, just want me to handle it.
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by mrc » Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:38 am

My spouse is an attorney, and is competent in math. She taught statistics to PhDs in university summer classes. She is computer savvy, but not a programmer or geek. She really isn’t interested in all my spreadsheets, BH-related links and sites, and obsessive planning. She’s fine with me managing the financials (monthly statements, bill paying, allocations, research, insurance, estate planning), even though she is perfectly capable. That said, she has a completely different style. And I know our styles are different. It wouldn’t be a good joint duty task.

We agree 100% on our goals and philosophy for saving and spending. I have it made in that respect: I would not want to cope in a relationship where there were drastic differences. But then, those marriages probably don’t last 30 years. I know she is not in the dark: She’s a liberated women and will know what to do should I exit unexpectedly. I am working on an “if something happens to me, read this page” that provides directions of where things are and what to do for long term. For instance, “Call Vanguard and move all the retirement funds into the X target fund.”

We agreed to sit down and go over the numbers occasionally. It’s me talking out loud about the decision points, and where I’m heading. She asks questions. I find the answers if I don’t know them. Sometimes when I say it out loud, I think it sounds funny. I regroup. We agree, or I change my direction to reach consensus. Then we move on. Certainly we don’t bicker over a 60/40 versus a 50/50 AA. But we do nail down our general appetite for risk, how to change our individual plan allocations to meet the household goal (all the international is in her account and she knows why), plans for retirement dates, SS and Medicare timing, budgeting, and the all-important health care insurance choices.

Just us two failing away at this would likely result in an incomplete picture. That’s why this site helps me so much to consider many more issues that first meet the eye. And see more solutions/alternatives than imaginable by one’s self.
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by AtlasShrugged? » Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:53 am

Blister....Totally understand the problem here. My wife is moderately interested, but doesn't really get into the nitty gritty of investing. She has a very limited understanding of risk, asset diversification, etc. All she knows is that we need money for retirement. Now to her credit, she listens to Ric Edelman every Saturday morning, so she is learning by listening. If Larry Swedroe or Jane Bryant Quinn had a regular radio show, I'd steer her there.

What I did was to create an excel workbook titled, 'What to do in case of my death'. Each tab of the workbook addresses different investment aspects. Who my life insurance is with, and contact names. Who to contact at my employer's HR to handle 401K stuff. What to do with SSA, and how to file for survivor benefits. What to do with my Roth, with contact information. What to do with my pension (from previous employer), if I am collecting it (have 12 years to go for full pension benefit). And then I have a tab on 'how to invest' which outlines a three fund portfolio.

Also have an extensive workbook with the IPS, and all investments. What I did for her was to create a very simple summary tabs, with easy to understand charts so she can easily 'digest' where we stand. That is updated weekly, and she 'gets' the visual display. That actually took the most time (creating the data visualization so it was easy to follow and told the story).

Hope this helps.
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by cmf » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:23 am

My wife and I got married later in life, so we both had managed our own finances for years. Her father retired early and helped educate them some on investing. He also opened Roth IRAs for his kids. So she was farther along and more knowledgeable about investing than I.

Apparently she tried to speak with me about investing a few years back but I wasn't very receptive. At least that's what she tells me. ;)

Recently I'm the one that became concerned about investing and started talking to her about it. At first she balked at some of the ideas I had. Like moving to lower fee mutual funds and consolidating accounts. She really didn't want to talk about it. She would say things like, but my X fund is doing great. The thing of it is, she was paying a 1% fee.

So I backed off and took one topic at a time, just in conversation, telling her things I was learning. First, we talked about fees and the impact they have on return. I used examples. Then we talked about risk and bear markets. This led to conversations about allocation. By this time she was more comfortable talking about the subject and we could start planning moves.

At one point I had to put the entire plan down on paper for her to look at. She needed to see the whole picture. Once she looked the plan over as a whole, it made sense to her.

My situation is different than yours but I hope something in my experience gives you a nugget of help. Finances can be emotional. My wife and I had emotions flair a few times but we backed off and would talk again later. The whole investment thing can be daunting and hard to face. I had to really dig in and educate myself. Sometimes the motivation just isn't there. Perhaps your wife needs some time. You'll get there, just be patient.

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Blister
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by Blister » Thu Jul 21, 2016 12:49 pm

Thanks for the many helpful suggestions I certainly like the idea of a letter of instructions, which I have done to a limited extent already. Giving her a periodic summary may also be helpful and should open up avenues for discussion. Up till now I've been the primary breadwinner,and she has had no problem with my handling all our fiances. She will be inheriting a not small amount of money in the near future from her fathers estate and I don't want to be come across as the "controling spouse". But when she suggested we needed to buy a beach house I got worried. :oops:

Glad to see I'm not the only one who has dealt with this problem.
Everthing works out in the end. If it doesn't then its not the end.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by island » Thu Jul 21, 2016 1:09 pm

Blister wrote: .....My mother in law had over twenty accounts at various banks and brokers and my wife as executor had to wade thru these in settling her estate. My problem is every time I try to discuss our finances with my wife it seems her eyes glaze over and she just wants me to handle it......
Blister-
This reads like SHE is the one handling her mom's estate. Are you saying she's capable of that, but not interested in any hands on of her OWN estate at this time?
Please clarify.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by Elsebet » Thu Jul 21, 2016 1:50 pm

I spent about an hour showing my husband my Fidelity account and explaining the investments and overall direction of the portfolio. While I was doing this I took notes in a google doc and shared that with my husband. Now this doc explains my investing philosophy, defines terms, rules on handling the finances if I die before him, and has a link to this forum if he has any questions. :)
"...the man who adapts himself to his slender means and makes himself wealthy on a little sum, is the truly rich man..." ~Seneca

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by mhalley » Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:10 pm

I have tried multiple times to interest my wife in investing to no avail. I finally gave up. Now I just give here a couple minute summary in January about how we did last year. I have instructed her to go with Vanguard PAS if I happen to pass before she does.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by King's Gambit » Thu Jul 21, 2016 3:26 pm

Blister wrote:Getting older and nearing retirement I have been trying to simplify both my and my spouse's retirement accounts. Over the past few years with the deaths of our parents we have seen first hand how complicated people can make there finances. My mother in law had over twenty accounts at various banks and brokers and my wife as executor had to wade thru these in settling her estate. My problem is every time I try to discuss our finances with my wife it seems her eyes glaze over and she just wants me to handle it. Have others had this problem and how did you address it?
Yes. My wife used to handle an equal portion of the finances when we were younger in our 20's and early 30's, but then I kept growing more detail oriented and slowly I started handling everything. Now, in our mid 40's I have been handling every single aspect for quite some time and like you said, mine also gets eyes glazed over when I start discussing certain things. A few years back, I created a complete binder with copies of every relevant aspect of the finances. It's locked in a safe that nobody can just simply walk away with. I am sure many people already responded similar, and we call it the legacy folder. It has instructions step by step in decent order and simple to follow. She knows a lot of the info, but this would probably help calm the situation if/when I am "called home". This also includes a spread sheet of all online accounts and passwords (utilities, CCs, banks, HSA, medical, retirement, etc.), signed release form from my HR and instructions to take to my employer to collect final check(s) including remaining bonuses, pension info, SS info, auto/home insurance and anything else I am forgetting right now.

I surely didn't do this overnight or stressed over it all at once; it took a while to collect. Now, I go over it once per year at the same time like it's a recognized Holiday just to make sure everything looks updated. It makes us (especially me) feel better and if it's not me that goes home first. I will also have the same plan to follow where applicable because all of her pertinent items are included. Because we circulate passwords a few times per year, I simply go in and insert a new passwords page (takes all but a few minutes). Our daughter has the means to access if ever the worst happened.

I almost forgot. She REALLY glazes over when it comes to the retirement portfolio. However, that was simplified to a few index funds and she gets the gist of it. There are also detailed instructions on investments. She also knows how to get to this site if needed for a lot of wonderful advice.
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Blister
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by Blister » Thu Jul 21, 2016 3:35 pm

island writes
Blister-
This reads like SHE is the one handling her mom's estate. Are you saying she's capable of that, but not interested in any hands on of her OWN estate at this time?
Please clarify[/color].


She is certainly capable of doing the paper work dealing with lawyer etc. But in deciding where to put her money, asset allocation, fees and the like she has so far been uninterested. This was 4 years ago with her mother and now her father has recently passed. He appointed her his executor so she is familiar with what needs to be done to close out the estate but I need to try to educate her about where would be best to put her money.
Everthing works out in the end. If it doesn't then its not the end.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Thu Jul 21, 2016 4:25 pm

I'll join the chorus of "You can't make somebody care about something they don't care about."

But there is still the issue of what she does with the money she receives from her dad. In our case, it is my husband that doesn't care, or at least doesn't want to think about it. He is in charge of thinking about other things. So he moves the money where I suggest it should go, sometimes with me hitting the keys and him agreeing that is just dandy.

If you come up with a recommendation, will she allow you to implement it? If so, that may be as good as you can expect for now. Keep records as recommended above for where the money is, why it is there, and what do do with it after you are gone, and hope for the best.

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BL
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by BL » Thu Jul 21, 2016 5:38 pm

Have you considered simplifying the accounts as much as possible and perhaps suggesting she consider a single balanced fund when/if she becomes a survivor?

Perhaps turning over management of her Roth IRA, for instance, and letting her manage it without you looking over her shoulder would be a good learning experience. Some of us only learn by doing. Hopefully it is at a place like Vanguard to get her a safe head start!

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by AZAttorney11 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:18 pm

I'm a big fan of simply using one fund for cases where a spouse has no interest in learning about investing, is scared, or might be talked into professional money management by Slick Talker at Mega Bank when the spouse that manages the finances passes away.

I think Target Retirement funds from Vanguard or the Freedom Funds from Fidelity are ideal in cases like this. They are incredibly diversified, low cost, and will have an asset allocation that is, generally speaking, more or less appropriate for the spouse. I also think a SPIA that covers most of the day to day expenses is prudent.

Now, there are problems with this approach. Is it the most tax efficient portfolio? No, it is not. Could returns be better if there was a tilt to SCV? Theory say yes. But it is undeniably easy for a spouse that knows nothing about investing to call Vanguard or Fidelity and sell $X for expenses, or to have the dividends and capital gains swept into an external checking account. This approach also guarantees a low-cost, diversified portfolio that isn't too risky. And it prevents Slick from charging a 1% AUM fee and churning the account for additional compensation, prevents a mini Madoff type scenario, etc. I'll gladly give up potentially higher returns to ensure that the legacy doesn't end up in someone else's pockets.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by coachz » Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:09 am

NotWhoYouThink wrote:I'll join the chorus of "You can't make somebody care about something they don't care about."

But there is still the issue of what she does with the money she receives from her dad. In our case, it is my husband that doesn't care, or at least doesn't want to think about it. He is in charge of thinking about other things. So he moves the money where I suggest it should go, sometimes with me hitting the keys and him agreeing that is just dandy.

If you come up with a recommendation, will she allow you to implement it? If so, that may be as good as you can expect for now. Keep records as recommended above for where the money is, why it is there, and what do do with it after you are gone, and hope for the best.
My wife does not care about investing but she does care about our retirement and as I gave her small appointments with knowledge (this is a stock, this is a bond, these are fees...) all in small doses she became interested because it was no longer overwhelming. She won't likely EVER pick up an investment book, but I can have very detailed conversations now about any topic because she knows enough to discuss them. She knows what building a floor is and why annuities can be good and when a reverse mortgage might be good. She understands levels of risk from TIPS to Junk Bonds but it has been over a few years where I talk to her weekly about "things". She retired last week at age 60, I'm 56 and going next ! Got her a new Honda CRV and she's loving life with seeing her mom daily and exploring. Book sale at the library today. They will have fun.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by scooter » Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:29 am

My spouse doesn't have the interest as well so I have covered the basic survival steps to function on a daily basis for spending and income flow.

I have a detailed sheet showing:
insurance policy's and telephone numbers
company pension plans and telephone numbers
company death insurance policy
When RMDs are distributed and which vanguard accounts money goes into
many more important details with telephone numbers.
List of Lawyer and important documents and locations

A revised copy is sent to my 2 adult sons each year who are financial savy and will guide her. It is important that someone else know this stuff in the event that both you and your wife die in an accident at the same time.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by abuss368 » Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:42 am

This is an excellent question and topic and one that I have appreciated more as time has moved forward. One can only do so much preparation.

A few points I have done over the years:

* Consolidated all banking with one bank - Wells Fargo - This has allowed every account to be consolidated on one webpage. This included one simple checking, savings, and credit card account (from multiple accounts years ago).

* Consolidated all investments at Vanguard with a few index funds. Some days I do simply consider moving to a LifeStrategy or Target fund. I have done this with both my employer account and 529 accounts and it works great!

* I do have an employer account that my spouse will need to rollover.

* I also wrote an instruction letter to assist and help. When I wrote that document, Vanguard did not offer the Personal Advisor Service. Now, I plan to update my document to possibly include a recommendation to my spouse to simply use their service. When everything is looked at in terms of the risks and confusion, the 0.30% in fees in meaningless and will allow my spouse to sleep well at night.

* We do have a couple of store credit cards (for the perks) that in theory I would love to close.

Best.
John C. Bogle - Two Fund Portfolio: Total Stock & Total Bond. "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by abuss368 » Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:43 am

Bogleheads,

I also completed the Financial Inventory document that Vanguard has on their website and has been discussed in their presentations. This document provides an excellent snapshot of accounts, contact information, and so forth.

Best.
John C. Bogle - Two Fund Portfolio: Total Stock & Total Bond. "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by oldcomputerguy » Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:04 am

Blister wrote:Getting older and nearing retirement I have been trying to simplify both my and my spouse's retirement accounts. Over the past few years with the deaths of our parents we have seen first hand how complicated people can make there finances. My mother in law had over twenty accounts at various banks and brokers and my wife as executor had to wade thru these in settling her estate. My problem is every time I try to discuss our finances with my wife it seems her eyes glaze over and she just wants me to handle it. Have others had this problem and how did you address it?
I have managed our household finances for all the (38) years that we have been married. Now I'm closing in on retirement within a few months. I discuss our finances and investments with my wife frequently, and occasionally drag her over to show her our accounts and the spreadsheets I keep reflecting our budget and financial picture. Fortunately our accounts are quite a bit simpler than you describe (I have Fidelity 401k and Vanguard taxable, she has Schwab 401k and Scottrade taxable). I have everything documented in a Word document with URLs, usernames, passwords, details of all our accounts (including checking, savings, credit cards, monthly bills, everything), and I keep a printed copy in our safe, along with instructions on how to access the Word copy on my computer.

I also have a master Excel spreadsheet with the step-by-step budget for the years between now and where we both are taking RMDs, broken down by life events (FRA's, pension start dates, Medicare start dates, etc). This is stored on my computer, DW has a copy, and instructions to access the master version are also in the safe.

If I dropped dead tomorrow, based on this, I believe she could carry on with no problem.

I'd suggest you have a conversation with DW, tell her what you intend in a general way (avoiding heavy details and resultant glassed-over expressions but making sure you get DW to sign off on you simplifying her accounts before you touch them :wink: ), then do your changes, document everything as it then exists, then make sure she knows where to find said documentation. If she is truly satisfied with you "just handling" everything, I'd guess she'll be satisfied just knowing where to look if she ever does get curious or just needs to know. That's how my DW and I operate, and it's worked all these years. If later she decides that she'd prefer that you had done something differently, at least she'll have the information in front of her and shouldn't feel like she's been bypassed.
"I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people; and if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you." (Aaron Sorkin)

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by oldcomputerguy » Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:08 am

coachz wrote:Yes, I have gone through this with my wife. The best way imo is to not discuss but teach. Everyday teach her more. What is a stock, what is a bond, can both be risky or safe, how? What is an index fund, why do people choose them. Why are fees critical. What are annuities, reverse mortgages and why would someone choose them. When to take Social Security and why.

There is a LOT to teach but if you get her learning then she will KNOW why she is on board with decisions you BOTH make.

My wife is very knowledgeable about investing because of me. When her company was bought out and they had a choice to roll their 401k over or get an annuity payout she actually gave a short speech on why it made sense to not take the annuity. I'm so proud of her.
+1. Although my DW is not a Boglehead, she does like to manage her investments, and she and I have had many discussions over such things as index funds, 401ks versus IRAs, differences between mutual funds and ETFs, and many others. It's been a learning experience for both of us.
"I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people; and if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you." (Aaron Sorkin)

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by cheapindexer » Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:30 am

Some people just want to be told what to do and don't care to learn about investments. They're just not interested, and you can't make them change. So simplify your accounts as best you can now and leave your wife a letter containing detailed, step-by-step instructions on what to do after your death. For example, if she will receive life insurance proceeds, leave her instructions regarding how to use/invest those proceeds, e.g., first pay off mortgage, then pay off car, then invest what's left over 50/50 in X & Y funds in taxable account at Vanguard.

plus one of the copied post above.

My spouse of 16 years and I have had some basic talks about indexing philosophy, long term goals, etc, but I agree with the many posts re: difficult making somebody care more.

I am shocked by how little many people know regarding investing (professionals even...doctors, lawyers, etc)

after I accepted that my spouse pretty much doesn't care, I wrote simple three fund portfolio instructions, with asset allocation changing with age, for her to follow after my death. It helped me!!! Now I feel she is cared for, and hopefully won't be a victim of Raymond james, Edward jones, etc.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by afan » Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:44 am

Get the number of accounts down to the minimum. You may have no choice about where your workplace retirement funds are, but for everything else you should be able to have one brokerage firm. You probably can do your banking through that firm as well.

My spouse is perfectly capable on managing investments but is not fascinated by finance. We have our number of accounts relatively low, but it could be lower- a gradual process.


The bigger problems are various insurance policies. Even if you no longer need life or disability coverage, you have home, auto, liability...

It might be worth it to hire a firm to do your taxes so that they have records when you no longer can do it yourself.

You also need a person who can take over managing your financial life when neither of you can do it. Ideally a younger generation relative but if none are available you may need a bank or trust company.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by Naismith » Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:52 am

coachz wrote:Yes, I have gone through this with my wife. The best way imo is to not discuss but teach.
Glad this works for y'all, but it may not be optimal for every couple. For many, the marriage partnership is one of equality and "teaching" sounds like one has the upper hand, which may be problematic for the health of the relationship.

Even in a discussion, one person may bring a different knowledge base that increases the knowledge of the other partner. But without forcing them into a "student" role.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by afan » Fri Jul 22, 2016 12:34 pm

Agreed. Often the difference between spouses breaks down to interest rather than ability. Investing should be simple. If you are doing something you cannot easily explain to someone who is only moderately interested you have overcomplicated things.

A 3fund portfolio is simple. Not everyone feels like spending their free time reading academic finance literature to understand why it is such a good solution. But plenty of people can do it without ploughing through the homework.

A lot of the problems arise from not knowing where accounts are or what the plans are. If you do a careful estate plan you will probably understand it, more or less, at the time. Now wait a couple of years without thinking about it. A typical BH may be as baffled as the less engaged spouse. But if things are documented and papers are in order, then it does not matter.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by Sandi_k » Mon Aug 01, 2016 12:23 am

My husband is less-than-interested. He's a really smart guy, just not a finance geek like me. What I've done:

1) Set him up with IRAs and regular contributions so he's saving regularly. I do this on auto-pay, so he doesn't have to write a monthly check. At the end of the year, we check with our accountant to confirm max amounts for his SEP-IRA, and he tops it up as needed.

2) Set up a Google doc listing our investments - so he has balances whenever I update the allocation plan, as well as a history of our positions and investment account numbers.

3) I found an online "In Case of Death" list of items on the net somewhere - I've copied it into an MSWord doc, where I can list everything as required, and have it on my laptop's desktop, entitled "In Case of Death"

4) I have a master list of accounts and passwords, in paper format, for his reference, since I pay all the bills online.

5) We have a written budget, with one tab per month, for each calendar year (going back a long time). It gives him a great handle on the monthly bills, and expected household costs.

I also utilize long car drives as a way to talk over thoughts, dreams, strategies, etc., when he's a captive audience. :twisted: It works pretty well for us.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by daveydoo » Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:32 am

Imo, and I've seen this and lived it: what your spouse will really need is a list of assets and someone to turn to. You will never bring this person up to speed ahead of time, and she'll be so paralyzed by your absence that even if she were capable, the inertia is overwhelming. Much of the reason she doesn't (have to) care, I'm guessing, is that you do. Couples evolve this way. One reason I have a sensible fee-only CFP advisor whom we've used once or twice is so there is a third party who knows our assets. I also have a hard-copy summary in a paper folder and spouse knows where to find this when I'm hit by a bus. A (reliable) sib of mine also has a list of all accounts and account numbers, insurance policies, etc. (with no dollar values attached), and could also be an ally for my spouse.

I got the sense in a follow-up post above that you were perhaps more concerned with the manner in which she spent than the manner in which she invested -- that's gonna be hard.
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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by celia » Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:56 am

OP, You could arrange to be "sick" the next time the checkbook needs to be balanced and ask her to do it this month. That might be enough for several lessons:
Deposits vs checks and automatic withdrawals
We spent how much?
How much is in the account right now?

This is the most important concept to understand as it impacts her ability to spend/pay bills after you die.
A dollar in Roth is worth more than a dollar in a taxable account. A dollar in taxable is worth more than a dollar in a tax-deferred account.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by teen persuasion » Mon Aug 01, 2016 4:04 pm

Naismith wrote:
coachz wrote:Yes, I have gone through this with my wife. The best way imo is to not discuss but teach.
Glad this works for y'all, but it may not be optimal for every couple. For many, the marriage partnership is one of equality and "teaching" sounds like one has the upper hand, which may be problematic for the health of the relationship.

Even in a discussion, one person may bring a different knowledge base that increases the knowledge of the other partner. But without forcing them into a "student" role.
There's also the issue of interest, as in my DH's lack of interest in anything financial. "Money" is all fake, to him, an invented concept. He never saw himself retiring, so never thought to plan for it. I've become the family CFO. He's happy to let me handle it all, but really has no desire to learn much about it. I've been working on teaching the kids as life lessons present themselves (walk them thru their taxes with their first jobs, college loan explanations, FAFSA formulas, Roth IRAs). I paid down the mortgage early, opened Roth IRAs for each of us, convinced DH to incrementally increase his 401k contributions, and to add HSA contributions at max. I've tried just dropping bits of info on financial concepts every now and then, updates on our NW, but it never was important to DH UNTIL he was unhappy in a job. Then the idea of early retirement suddenly had meaning! We're not there yet, but had enough cushion to quit and look elsewhere. He was also quite motivated to get all his ducks in a row before quitting to maximize his sicktime/PTO payout. He followed my calculations to put 50% of it into his 401k to max it, and took it in segments to minimize the tax hit.

He's paying a bit more attention now, but still has little interest. He's happy when I have someone else to discuss financial things with - my dad recently began chatting with me on investments, and I'm going over my parent's taxes (dad didn't realize CG would be 0% in his bracket; we'll be amending a few years for them). The post college kids asked if I'd help a friend with a kiddie tax issue.

I definitely need to create an info file for DH and/or the kids - thanks for the examples.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by kaudrey » Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:58 pm

My DH knows there is a folder in the front of our filing cabinet that has several things in it, including a list of all of our accounts (investments, banking and bills), how to contact my boss and the HR department where I work and a variety of other things.

My father, on the other hand, although he also has such a file, has shared it with me, as I will the one to deal with all of that if he passes before my mother. There is no way my mother could deal with it at this point (she's getting a tad forgetful, and gets confused too easily).

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by tschanks1 » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:31 pm

I don't have this issue with my spouse, but I was a caregiver for my mother in hospice. As she declined, and it was becoming obvious cancer was spreading to her brain, she and I began to talk about the fact that she made more money than my father for years, and had most of the retirement accounts. Evidently she had almost zero risk tolerance, but had always tracked things very well, while he never had so much as a credit card in his name before she died. All of their credit history was basically in her name.

I was a hospice social worker for years, and we used to recommend this check list for people, and it helped organize things well. So we sat down with this (see link) and just went through it all, page by page.
http://www.printing.org/page/3095 I'd add to that list anything with military service, having your honorable discharge papers is also very important for surviving spouses, or if you want a military funeral.

She had everyone online, and he doesn't know how to turn on the computer. She and I sat down for hours, days at a time, feeling like a race against the clock to get passwords and everything written down as she got more confused. He's quite competent, ran his own business for years and has no financial issues at all, he's just very old school and hasn't yet stepped into the 21st century style of banking. So for them, it wasn't as much about investing as it was the fact that she handled their personal stuff while he handled the business. Had he died suddenly, she would have had no clue as to how to close it down, or what she needed to do with all of that. Watching it unravel was really something, and from a purely respectful point of view, I didn't want to overstep my bounds before it was time, but I sure wish they'd have had more stuff streamlined.

Just some thoughts as you think about discussing finances with loved ones, it can evolve into a discussion that is more pragmatic than just the investments in and of themselves. Hope this doesn't sound morbid, but I've realized over the years that "finances" is a lot about mutual respect and the communication patterns, and we aren't all good at everything, and tasking to strengths is a great way to handle things. But, at least for them, it meant they talked big picture but not little details, and it proved somewhat stressful in the end for them.

I hope in some way this is helpful, you talking about your parents made me think of that. I probably have too much set up, lol I hope I don't look suicidal with all my advance planning :wink: But having health care advanced directives (the 5 wishes from Aging With Dignity is only $5 and it's the best around) and powers of attorney, along with all the investment stuff, is actually the most loving thing you can do for those around you.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by BanditKing » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:54 pm

I have the same problem as the OP. We only recently married, and wife has suggested I try presenting the topic via interpretive dance just to make it less dry.

What I've done is keep good notes outlining where things are and roughly how much they are. For her ROTH (which we just started last year), she has me manage it, so I've put everything in her account into a Target Retirement fund to keep it simple. In our overall AA, I consider her fund "allocation neutral" and ignore it for simplicity. That way, when she looks at her statement, it's just one account to track.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by island » Wed Aug 03, 2016 2:29 pm

BanditKing wrote:I have the same problem as the OP. We only recently married, and wife has suggested I try presenting the topic via interpretive dance just to make it less dry.....
Ha! I like her style. :D

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by likegarden » Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:53 pm

My wife likes to watch Tony Robbins on TV. He published a book about investing a year or so ago, which my wife bought for perhaps $20 and loved to read. These where some of our best $20 ever spent. Basically he is in agreement with Bogleheads, and my wife got a financial education. My wife and I can discuss now our portfolio. She understands terms we discuss here. That book is now on sale for $4 somewhere, so buy that book for your wife.

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Re: Discussing investing with spouse

Post by pondering » Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:15 pm

Is there an item that discusses spending?
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