Money & Career

Are you financially powerless in your relationship?

Who wears the financial pants in your household? This new global survey by HSBC shows 65 percent of men around the world make all or most of their household’s financial decisions, and other family members have little say in the matter

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Masterfile

Who wears the financial pants in your household? This new global survey by HSBC shows 65 percent of men around the world make all or most of their household’s financial decisions, and other family members have little say in the matter. Here in Canada, we’re doing better — but there are still 34 percent of men who say they have sole responsibility for financial decisions versus 24 percent of women.

Sure this survey highlights a gender gap — but what’s more worrying to me is that anyone (man or woman) would let their partner make all of the financial decisions without any input! This is a recipe for disaster. Trust me — I know.

When my husband and I first set up house together, I called all the financial shots. I paid the bills, hired our financial planner, and set up our joint bank accounts. My husband hated dealing with money and I write about this stuff all day, after all. It just made sense.

Then one day, there was a problem: a mix-up with an online bill payment while I was away on business. My husband needed to access our bank account online to fix the problem — but he had no password and didn’t know the bank account number. He didn’t know where to find out bank statements.

Without me there, he was 100-percent financially powerless.

Now, we always review our bills together. My husband (who once hated dealing with money) pays all the monthly bills online. I still handle the retirement planning side, but we review everything regularly with our financial planner and my husband knows where to find all the statements in our files. He hasn’t felt helpless since.

Male or female, you should not let your partner control all of the finances without your input — or at least letting you know where you stand financially. Sure, you should play to your strengths, and if your S.O. is a financial whiz then you’re lucky. But the two of you must discuss your decisions and you must both know where to find important papers if and when you need them. Otherwise you could end up financially powerless, and vulnerable.