Carrick on Money

September 23, 2018

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Why your spouse is financially illiterate
Why your spouse is financially illiterate - Plus three questions that determine retirement happiness

Rob Carrick

In every good marriage, there is a division of labour. Cooking, yardwork, laundry, daycare drop-offs and pickups, housework and, of course, managing household finances. Divide and conquer, right?

Where money is concerned, maybe not. A couple of U.S. academics have produced a study showing that the spouse who handles the household finances gets smarter about money over time, while the spouse who defers on financial matters does not. This can be a problem if the couple breaks up in a divorce or if the financially savvy spouse dies. You can pick up cooking or laundry pretty quickly if they weren’t your duties in a marriage. But mortgage renewals, retirement saving and insurance are different. You can make costly mistakes if you don’t get the details right.

Marital advice from a personal finance columnist: Try a financial role reversal. If you’re the chief financial officer in your relationship, pick a money-related issue your household must look after and invite your partner to be your co-CFO. Use this moment as an opportunity to have a broader discussion of your finances, and then have periodic meetings every few months to keep the conversation going. Be collaborative, skip the lectures.

If you’re the spouse who defers on money because you have no interest in financial matters, reframe your thinking. Mortgage renewal is a chance to discuss when you’ll have your house paid off. Retirement saving is about choosing the lifestyle you’ll have in retirement.

It’s natural for one spouse to take the lead on money matters. But the other spouse should be a co-pilot, not a passenger.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Three questions that determine retirement happiness

The MIT AgeLab says answering these simple, smart questions will address the lifestyle quality side of retirement planning.

Wannbe real estate investors, read this

Here’s a reality check for investors who imagine that buying rental property will give them an easy stream of investment income. It’s harder than you think.

Who’s at fault when a real estate investor crashes?

An Australian couple borrowed money from a bank to buy two investment properties and then went bankrupt when they couldn’t afford the payments. A court will look at whether the bank was at fault for reckless lending.

Experts dish on dishwashing

Editors at a website called Kitchn talk about their favourite scrubbers, sponges, etc., for cleaning dishes. All of these are cheap little items you can find at a dollar or grocery store,

Today’s financial tool

Check out these charts if you’re interested in long-term data on the U.S. stock and bond markets. The long-term price chart for the S&P 500 offers a great illustration of how long-term investing builds wealth.

Ask Rob

Q: Canadians have a love affair with the idea of owning a home, but I have seen little written to describe the rate of home ownership. Do governments or voters have interest in the rate of home ownership? With buyers on the sidelines in major cities, what will the effect of aggressive stress tests combined with interest rates be on the housing culture in two or three years?

A: Results of the latest census show that expensive housing has already caused a dip in the home ownership rate. The rate of home ownership was 67.8 per cent in 2016, down from 69 per cent in 2011. I’d expect the ownership rate to fall further – it’s unavoidable when housing is very expensive.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance stories

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About Carrick on Money
This is Rob Carrick’s newsletter guide to investing smarter, saving more and avoiding common mistakes. It is sent two times per week.

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