A Retirement Story: The Biggest Money Mistake That Couples Make

Brian Fricke, CFP®Retirement Planning

incredible retirement story

Many spouses assume certain roles when it comes to finances. One person tends to make more of the financial decisions themselves, while excluding their spouse from the process; sometimes even keeping important information from their family.

This story, from Brian Fricke, shares how falling into those roles and habits can be a big money mistake later on:


Mary, a very wise and knowledgeable investor, would visit with me about every year or so, however would never hire us. She was managing her money pretty well and I suspect she just wasn’t comfortable with paying me or anyone else for that matter, for financial advice.

Her husband Mark had absolutely no interest in money or finances. He was happy knowing that he always had his monthly “allowance” in his pocket and that their bills were always paid. The couple owed no one; they didn’t have a mortgage.

Mark was very proud of Mary and the excellent job she had done, not only raising their children and managing the household, but also in taking responsibility for all their financial affairs.

Then one day, Mark called me and I immediately knew something wasn’t right. Since Mark would always delegate any financial/money issues to Mary, he would never call a financial advisor. Mark was very distressed and told me that Mary had passed away two weeks earlier.

Mark was left with a stack of monthly statements and other legal and financial documents, the details of which he knew nothing about. It was suddenly his responsibility to manage all of their investments, handle all of their finances, and plan for his and his family’s future; he needed help.

If you love your spouse, do them a favor—start working with a financial advisor now. You should find an advisor whom you both like and trust. That way, when your spouse is left alone, they will already have a trusted financial advisor in place.

This will reduce the stress the surviving spouse feels. This is one of the best legacies you can ever give your spouse and one they will always be grateful for.