By Andrew D. Burish

Having a meaningful conversation about money with your significant other can be difficult, especially if you’re not entirely sure what the conversation needs to accomplish.

According to UBS’s “Own your worth” report, avoiding these financial conversations can have detrimental effects for women, especially considering that eight out of 10 women will be solely responsible for their financial well-being at some point in their lives, whether through divorce or widowhood.* The advice from women who are on their own is clear: Educate yourself now about investment decisions and be a full participant in your financial future.

No matter what age you are, or whether you’ve been married for two months or for 50 years, it’s the right time to have a conversation about your financial future. That’s why we created a mini-conversation starter guide, full of powerful questions to help steer your discussion with your partner at various stages of life.

Millennial women

Fact: A surprising 61 percent of millennial women leave investment decisions to their husbands, compared to 56 percent of all married women.*

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you taking a backseat when it comes to making the important financial decisions in your marriage?
  • Are the financial roles in your marriage established or still evolving? Have you had a conversation about your financial goals with your spouse yet?

How to start the conversation:

  • “I want us to be equal partners in making financial decisions. What decisions do we have coming up in the next few years that we should talk about?”
  • “I love that we balance each other and take charge of different responsibilities within our marriage. But when it comes to how we are saving or investing money, I think we both need to take an active role.”

Generation X women

Fact: Eighty-five percent of married women who defer to their spouse on big financial decisions believe their spouse is more knowledgeable, yet more than half of women who are now divorced or widowed say they would have done fewer household chores to make more time to learn about investing.*

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you feeling the pain of being in the sandwich generation? Does investing just seem too complicated and like something you can’t handle right now?
  • Knowing that most women overestimate how much knowledge they need to begin taking a role in making investment decisions, is it possible that you know more than you think?

How to start the conversation:

  • “I’ve been putting off learning about investing because I feel overwhelmed, but I am going to learn. What resources can we look at together, so that we can learn together?”
  • “I know we have a long way to go until retirement, but let’s talk about some of our financial goals.”

Baby boomers and beyond

Fact: Not only have the rates of “gray divorce” doubled in the last 30 years, with one in four divorces occurring among couples over the age of 50, women’s average life expectancy is five years longer than men’s.*

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is your legacy in place? Do you know what trusts or other retirement accounts are set up for your children or other relatives (or organizations you care about) to be able to inherit?
  • Have you thought about what effect death or divorce would have on your finances? Only 55 percent of women surveyed thought these life events would have a major impact on their finances.*

How to start the conversation:

  • “It’s very hard to think about, but I want to make sure that if one of us passes away, the other knows exactly where we are financially and is ready to make the important decisions.”
  • “I read that 87 percent of men expect to provide their wives with a sense of financial security.* I know this has always been important to you. One of the most important ways I can feel secure is to make sure I’m actively involved in making the investment and other big financial decisions as we grow old together.”

Why wait to talk to your spouse about your financial future? In our research, we came across countless women who wished they had done things differently. Take advantage of their advice, and get the conversation rolling today.

For more about Burish and his team of financial advisors, visit Asterisks refer to “Own your worth: How women can break the cycle of abdication and take control of their wealth,” UBS Wealth Management USA, 2018.