Who Makes Family Financial Decisions?


Who makes the financial decisions for your family? Is it you, or your spouse?

Many men would say they rule the roost when it comes to handling finances. However, their wives may give them a sideways look before saying who they think really runs the household funds.

A study by Mainstay Investments examined this very subject and discovered that there's a wide gap between married couples when it comes to handling the family finances. In fact, 81 percent of married women surveyed say that they share equal responsibility for financial planning decisions with their spouse. But, only 44 percent of husbands surveyed agreed with that statement. The majority of married men surveyed -- 56 percent -- say they make most of the household financial decisions on their own.

What's more, this disconnect is consistent among married couples of every generation.

Take a look:

  Share Decisions Decide Alone
  Men Women Men Women
Gen-X 40% 82% 60% 18%
Late boomers 48% 78% 52% 22%
Early boomers 41% 81% 59% 19%
Seniors 48% 83% 52% 17%

"These findings reinforce a situation we have both heard about anecdotally and have observed repeatedly for many years," says Mike Coffey, managing director of Mainstay Investments, in a company-issued press release.

"Married couples often believe they are on the same page when it comes to financial goals but it's apparent that they are often carrying different play books altogether," Coffey adds.

One of the best ways married couples can "get on the same page" of the financial playbook is to seek assistance from a financial advisor. Military families can find these professionals through USAA or ask their base program managers to put them in touch with a financial professional.

Once you and your spouse find a suitable financial adviser, this professional should:

  • Include both spouses in financial decisions -- When it comes to financial planning, the husband and wife should be involved. After all, 73 percent married men and women say that they meet with their financial adviser together. A strong relationship with the advisor will solidify his or her position and retain assets under management.
  • Make a case to consolidate assets -- 82 percent of men and women surveyed agreed that consolidating assets with one adviser would make it simpler and easier to manage their money. In addition, 80 percent of men and women say that consolidating assets will lead to better recommendations on how to meet their needs (insurance, long term care, etc.).
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