My husband and I will soon celebrate our 30th anniversary. He's a great guy, responsible and hard working, but he's never had any interest in investing or even day-to-day financial things, such as paying bills or buying insurance. I've always worked in banking, so it was natural for me to take it all on. Now, as we get older, I'm worried about how he'll manage if something happens to me. Any thoughts on how to get him involved? --A Reader
This is an important issue for every couple -- and one I can relate to personally. My husband is a talented writer but doesn't have a keen interest in our finances, especially the day-to-day details. So like you, most of the time, I take the lead. The difference is that he's 100 percent aware of every account and is part of every important decision.
To me, that's a crucial distinction -- and one that you're wise to address now. That's not to say it will be easy to get your husband's attention. It may be especially difficult because it's harder to change behaviors once they've been in place for a long time. But it's something that's better to tackle sooner rather than later.
Be honest about your concerns
Start with an honest conversation. Tell your husband that you're concerned about what would happen should you no longer be able to handle the family finances. Be clear that you're not asking him to take charge completely. You're simply asking him to be involved -- both for his well-being and your peace of mind.
Talk about life goals
As a couple that has been together for a long time, you've probably talked a lot about your hopes and dreams. Money plays a part in realizing those dreams. So first, take a look at what you still want to do. What are your retirement plans? Do you want to travel? Do you have a special interest that you want to pursue?
Fundamentally, these are life questions, but they likely require trade-offs and planning. At this point, talking about money may be less about financial obligations and more about what you want out of life. That can be exciting.
Give him the big picture
Before you get into the nuts and bolts of managing day-to-day finances, you might pique your husband's interest by talking about the bigger picture -- what you have, what you owe and how you're protecting yourselves. Here are some important points:
--Net worth: This is a snapshot of what you own (home, investment accounts, retirement savings) and what you owe (mortgage, credit lines, car loans, credit card balances). Are you in the plus? Are you building your net worth every year?