Trade magazine writers have delivered tomes about women and investing. Not a month goes by without another press release promoting the latest findings about the financial habits of women.
Instead of repeating what is available in the public domain and parsing our percentages and statistics, I thought I would share a few thoughts and observations about my wife, Stacey, after nearly 15 years of marriage.
We have no pets, no dog named “Marley.” We have only one 11-year-old daughter named Sarah. Our financials are very simple and relatively easy. We never spend more than an hour with our accountant at tax time.
On Retirement Investing
My wife, it seems, doesn’t really care about investing. She’s never really bothered to look at her mutual fund accounts online. (She’ll glance at the paper statements once in a while.)
My wife has never asked that we follow up with visiting her financial advisor at the broker/dealer where her late father worked.
When it came time to transfer assets from her terminated 401(k) plan more than two years ago, my wife insisted her money be managed by her late father’s partner at Stifel Financial instead of looking at alternatives.
My wife would much rather hand over her retirement assets for safekeeping to her late father’s partner than think about using our tax accountant whom we visit at least once a year.
Several years ago, my wife insisted that we participate as angel investors in a communications company as a favor to her boss. She said if the investment didn’t work out that her boss would feel so bad that he would repay us. (We’re still waiting for a return on our money.)
My wife, who suffered from the occasional back spasms until she was treated last year, has rarely ever mentioned buying disability insurance (we have none).
My wife has on several occasions insisted that I look into long-term care insurance for the both of us.
She’s not yet approached her sister and her 75-year-old mother to discuss estate planning and inheritance.
My wife seems upbeat at our long-term financial future and I suspect it’s because my mother-in-law inherited a comfortable sum. My wife has only one sister with whom she is very close, so there’s no sibling rivalry.
She tells me we have nothing to worry about, either for our daughter’s education or for our retirement.
On Household Finances
My wife cares deeply about the household budget. She’s very precise and tracks weekly spending and allowances to the dollar.
My wife is very shrewd, much more than I am, in writing off nearly everything she can when it comes to taxes.
My wife is great at thinking about and organizing the cash outlays and withdrawals necessary to pay for vacations and long weekends on the road.
My wife likes the convenience of credit cards and she’s really good with electronic bill payment and all matter of computer-assisted financial transactions.
She takes full advantage of rolling over credit card balances, mainly to fund the business in which she’s a partner, and to make sure she gets zero interest financing.
My wife is really good at redeeming and transferring miles and points from credit card expenses to fund domestic and international trips.
She’s even better at finding good bargains in retail clothing stores and uses savings coupons she gets in the mail.
Several weeks ago, my wife entered into a year-long contract for home heating oil at a great rate offered by a home alarm company trying to get into home heating oil business, yet she’ll still fill up the gas tank in Pennsylvania where we live when she could get gas 20 cents to 30 cents a gallon cheaper across the river in New Jersey.
Shortly before the financial crisis, we refinanced our mortgage and took out a home equity loan to redo the kitchen. The project came in right on budget, and I have her to thank.
After nearly 15 years of marriage, we’ve either leased or bought five cars, but we’ve never seriously considered buying a used car.
In the past four years, my wife has spent several hours planning vacations to the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. But we’ve never discussed the expense ratios charged on her 401(k) investments. (I’m in index funds.)
Neither of us is in the financial field and I suspect the way my wife and I approach finances is typical of millions of households, at least that’s what surveys seem to indicate. From our vantage point, we seem to be fairly complementary in our approach although I’ve no doubt that an advisor would look at us and say there’s plenty of room for improvement.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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