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In the Dark About Household Finances? | RISMedia, RISMedia

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

In many couple situations, the task of handling various financial chores fall on one specific person. But that doesn’t – and certainly shouldn’t – mean that only one person should know what’s going on with the household bills, expenses, and credit accounts.

According to a recent report from The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), if responsibilities unexpectedly shift due to a sudden illness or loss of a spouse, getting up to speed quickly could be challenging

for the person least familiar with handling family finances.

Without the help of the person who has always handled the money, CFPB blogger Erin Scheithe says the one left in charge will face major headaches. Scheithe offers the following insights:

– Schedule time for you and your spouse to go over your financial picture. Start by taking an inventory of your family finances: income, expenses, debt, and investments, if any. It’s good to get in the habit of sharing this every so often as your financial picture changes or so it stays fresh in your mind.

– Maintain a list of account information and store it in a secure location. Make sure you both have access to online accounts. Create a list that includes account numbers, usernames, security questions, and passwords. There are many options available for securely saving the list digitally or printing it and storing it in a locked fireproof box. Remember to tell your spouse how to access the file and update it when necessary.

– Have a plan. Make sure to plan for what will happen and who will manage your finances if one or both of you become ill or die unexpectedly. Consider creating a durable power of attorney so you will have someone in place to pay your bills or make financial decisions if you can no longer do it on your own.

Losing your spouse is challenging on its own Scheithe says, and that stress multiplies if you find you are in the dark about your family finances.

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