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may8homespunweb.jpgBy Dan Serra

RISMEDIA, May 8, 2008-(MCT)-Are you the boss in the family when it comes to planning how to manage money? Or do you let your spouse handle everything so you don’t have to worry? If you’re either one, you’re at a disadvantage for making sure the family wealth doesn’t smash into brick walls in the future, according to one survey.

Of retirees and those nearing retirement, two out of five couples have one partner who dominates the family finances, according to the study by the Hartford Financial Services Group and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab. Just over half share in financial decisions.

But only one out of 10 said they divide responsibilities and work as a team. Those couples were also the ones most likely to say they enjoyed retirement more.

Sharing duties provides the benefit of knowing what each spouse is doing so when it comes time to know financial information, both couples are clued in and know where to get answers. Additionally, it helps avoid one spouse being overloaded with financial management. The biggest benefit is that this sharing style resulted in having saved more than $750,000 for retirement compared with only about one out of five in one-sided family financial management styles who had saved more than $750,000.

To get both spouses involved in financial decision-making, divide duties that each are comfortable with. For example, a wife who is in charge of shopping may be responsible for the monthly budget and ensuring enough is left over to contribute to savings. The husband who follows stocks could be responsible for investment selection. Of course, the roles could be reversed.

Delegating and then sharing information is an excellent technique that eliminates surprises in tragic situations. A spouse who is aware of wills and account information will more easily be able to administer those documents needed to make sure money is distributed correctly and no accounts are forgotten.

Don’t forget to include children. A teenager may be given a task of planning vacation budgets and school supply savings and most importantly-college savings and budgeting options. A parent could even introduce a child to investing by having the child do stock research on the Internet and give a report.

Take a look at the family’s goals and delegate tasks. Make sure you have weekly or monthly meetings where each family member gives a report. When it comes to children, throw in a little incentives, such as something similar to profit-sharing.

The family that plans together prospers together.

Dan Serra is a retirement planning specialist for Rainsberger Wealth Advisors in Colorado Springs, Colo. Send questions or comments to

© 2008, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.