Valentine’s Day comes and goes. The roses die, the fancy dinners are digested and what’s left? A memory, sure. But there’s a better gift you can give your partner: financial security and know-how. Not sexy enough? I disagree. It doesn’t show the love? Of course it does. Maybe it’s not chocolates and lingerie, but it’s proof posi-tive that you want to make sure your partner is cared for, always.
FOR THE “I DON’T GET IT” PARTNER
Many people are intimidated by money matters, and their eyes glaze over at the mention of mutual funds or Roth IRAs. This calls for a date night, with prizes. (You know your partner, so you pick the prize!) Play some educational money games together online. Start with those found on SaveMoneyGames.com and PracticalMoneySkills.com. It’s a great way to introduce money concepts slowly to those who claim money ignorance. If you’re feeling creative, try adapting these games to a version that rivals strip poker. It is Valentine’s Day, you know.
FOR THE “I GET IT BUT I’M NOT INTERESTED” PARTNER
If your partner understands money basics but is perfectly happy allowing you to make all the money decisions, you need a different strategy. Education isn’t the problem, it’s a lack of awareness and interest. Offer a carrot. You know that vacation you want? Let’s figure out how we’re going to pay for it. That big screen TV? Let’s decide together what sacri-fices need to be made so we can afford it. At least twice a year, sit with your partner and review the family finances. Show what changes you’ve made to your investments, what kind of debts you’ve accumulated or paid down, and the like. While you’re at it, make sure your partner knows where to find important documents, key account numbers and online bank-ing passwords.
FOR THE “I KNOW BETTER THAN YOU” PARTNER
If you and your partner don’t talk money because you never seem to agree, it may be time to call in a referee. Hire a financial adviser for an objective analysis. He or she can moderate and make recommendations on how you can compromise to reach your goals. You can find a certified financial planner in your area through the Financial Planning Asso-ciation (fpanet.org) or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (napfa.org).
FOR THE “YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW” PARTNER
Real life isn’t like “The Sopranos.” If you’re in a relationship where your partner handles the money and tells you not to worry about it, it’s time for you to ask for a gift: information. Ask your partner to explain your assets and your debts, and anything else you need to know about your finances. You not only have a right to know, you have a need. If your name is on joint accounts, those accounts are equally your responsibility. Joint tax returns? The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t give a pass to uninformed spouses.
FOR THE “I’M GOING TO LIVE FOREVER” PARTNER
Talking about one’s own demise is a pretty unattractive conversation. Some refuse to discuss the topic, much less complete the legal documents to ensure their wishes will be followed. Without estate planning documents, the state would decide who gets custody of your minor children, the person you want to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf may be rendered legally unable to step in, and your estate may owe thousands in avoidable taxes.
Meet with an estate planning attorney who can gently break it to your partner that he will not live forever, and why it’s important to prepare for the inevitable. You can find an es-tate planning attorney through the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (actec.org), the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils (naepc.org) or the American Bar Association (abanet.org).