My wife and I both used to squirrel away money in hidden little savings accounts. I put $50 a month in a rainy day ING Orange Account that it took me years to tell her about. And, she eventually confessed to me that she had a few hidden accounts in her name as well. According to Money Magazine over half of all couples do not know their net worth and in some instances even the family’s total yearly income. A third of the people studied admitted to having lied to their spouse about money. 80% of married adults hide purchases from their partners.
I didn’t really think that it was too big of a deal, but then it dawned on me that it was probably a bad idea and not the best thing for my marriage. Because I pay all of the bills and keep track of all our investments in the household, my wife really had no idea what our true financial picture was like. She had no idea if we were financially healthy or living paycheck to paycheck. When we first got married, I even hid my enormous credit card debt from her. I used to always under-inflate the numbers out of shame. I used to make sure that I always checked the mail first before my wife, and then I hid the credit card statements before she could see what the real damage was. I refused to tell her for years that we spent more money that we earned every month until one major fight brought it all out in the open.
Now, things are different. Now, I give my wife a detailed net worth statement every few months to show her exactly where our family stands financially. I honestly list every single asset and liability (debt) that we have as a family. I tell her about every little rainy day savings account that I’ve socked away and about every last credit card balance. Your spouse also needs to know what are all of your accounts and where to statements are if, God forbid, you should die. Your family will be dealing with a lot of grief and having a list of all your debts, investments, and insurance policies handy in a central location will make it just a little bit easier in their time of need.
Full disclosure and the transparency have made our marriage so much stronger. I have included a net worth Microsoft Excel spreadsheet in the “Resources” page at the top of the blog. The spreadsheet can help you track your net worth, every asset and debt you have in your household, and the percentage an asset like your home contributes to your total net worth. Knowing exactly where you are financially and sharing that information with your loved one will help you stay focused on where you are and where you want to go.
For more information about why it’s important to track your net worth, check out this great posting.