How To Stay On Top Of Your Finances Always

Ask yourself this question: How prepared are you to take care of your finances if your partner died tomorrow? Do you know where your money is invested? How much you have and where the paperwork is?

I have heard too many Cinderella-like stories in my career. Too many women – and men (yes, this is a story for both partners) – hand over their power to someone they trust to take care of their finances should something happen to their partner. And this someone is often the Financial Planner, the accountant of the partner’s best friend.

Cinderella was left to the mercy of her evil stepmother when her father died, but luckily for her, met a handsome prince and lived happily ever after. Unfortunately, most real stories do not have fairy-tale happy endings. Giving away the power to someone else when it comes to managing your finances is a foolish thing to do, often with disastrous consequences. To illustrate my point, I am sharing three of many stories that I have come across during my career in the Financial Planning industry. Sadly, I come across these types of scenarios in different variations all too often.

Meredith’s story

Although she repeatedly asked, Meredith’s husband never discussed their financial affairs with her. He was secretive about their money and assured her that their affairs would be looked after by the consultants of their offshore Trust.

When Meredith’s husband died unexpectedly, she had no clear understanding of the family Trust and was forced to use her savings just to survive. It turned out that her husband did not fully understand the Trust either. It was complicated. Meredith was eventually advised to dismantle the Trust, losing a substantial amount of money in dividends and paying significant taxes.

Meredith story may have been very different if she had been involved in setting up the Trust and clearly understood where and how their money was invested.

Sue’s story:

Sue and her husband shared a lifelong friendship with another couple. When Sue’s husband died, his best friend was appointed as executor of the Estate. Sue trusted him and expected him to “take care of everything.” Sue soon realised that a large portion of money had disappeared. The end result; Sue lost her husband, and also her best friends.

Her story would have ended happier had she not given away her power and taken an interest in her own financial affairs.

Family feud:

Mom and the eldest of three siblings were the trustees of the family Trust. When the father died, the daughter convinced her mother to re-distribute the income, with all contributions going to her alone. After a drawn-out procedure, the court corrected the distributions to benefit all siblings equally. Everyone lost more than their father in the process, they lost their family.

The purpose of sharing these stories is not to scare you, but rather to challenge and motivate you to take ownership of your finances.

Here are my top tips to ensure that you are prepared:

  1. Stay current with your financial affairs: meet your Financial Planner regularly. Know where your money is, how much you have and where to find the paperwork.
  2. Educate yourself on financial matters. It is not as complicated as you may think.
  3. finances | Longevity LIVEUpdate your Will annually.
  4. Initiate more courageous currency conversations in your relationships. Talk about money. It’s a commodity, a currency, nothing more, and nothing less. Do not fear money conversations.

Even if your partner dies, your life is still there to be lived. Take control and own it.

Who Is The Writer?

Kim Potgieter is a Director and Head of Life Planning at Chartered Wealth Solutions. Her life’s work is to help people align money with meaning to enable positive and powerful transitions. Kim is passionate about meaningful conversations and understanding one’s psychology or relationship with wealth. She believes that our relationship with money manifests in the type of decisions we make, and the actions we take around money. Click here to visit Kim’s website.

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