"We simply can't abandon ship every time we encounter a storm. Real love is about weathering the terms of life together"
- Seth Adam Smith
Making a "financial gift" to your significant other may not be romantic - but it is evidence of love and devotion. While I don't recommend wrapping up and presenting one of these "gifts" in lieu of flowers or candy perhaps you will be inspired to have a sit-down discussion in the next couple days. What is better evidence of your love and commitment: one night spending a lot of money and fighting crowds for dinner reservations or thoughtfully discussing how you can protect and provide for those who depend on you if the unthinkable happens? On second thought, maybe you should do both...!
#1 Commit to Get Out of Debt
This is really the first step to putting your family on a firm financial footing. I don't recommend investing anywhere other than a 401(k) plan with matching for anyone who has consumer debt. Consumer debt consists of car payments, credit cards, school loans, etc. Don't worry about investing until you have paid off all of this debt. Why? Because interest rates on debt are "guaranteed" and those hopeful future returns on investments are not... I like the "debt snowball" method to put debt in the rearview mirror.
#2 Have Sufficient Life Insurance
If you still have significant debt you need life insurance - regardless of your age. Don't try to "invest" ("permanent" or "whole life" policies) while buying life insurance. Buy term insurance - you will be able to buy a lot more insurance protection for your family for the same amount of money. 10X your current income is the rule of thumb. Generally, as you get older and pay off debt and children are less reliant on your income (leave home) you can drop insurance policies and "self-insure" as your debts get smaller and assets become larger.
#3 Have a Disability Insurance Policy
Disability insurance is expensive. Why? Because it’s common for owners of these policies draw on the benefit - much more common than life insurance benefits. Becoming disabled and losing a job which requires a certain level of physical or mental capability can be a death blow to family finances without a policy which pays a portion of pre-disability income to your family. Many employers have these policies so my recommendation is to ask your HR department about disability benefits. If you do not have one and would be in financial trouble without your current income you should strongly consider obtaining a policy. If you are self-employed – consider buying a disability policy to protect your income.
#4 Have Clean and Organized Financial Records
Just a little over nine years ago my older brother passed away. It was unexpected and unfortunately, he had not adequately prepared for his own death by having good financial records. I recommend clearly marking files which contain financial information and periodically reviewing these files, their contents, and location with your spouse as a bare minimum.
#5 Educate Yourself and Your Spouse
In most families (including mine) one of the spouses is more in charge of investing and managing big-picture finances. The problem with this is that sometimes the other person knows little of what is being done or why. If something happens to the financially involved spouse the survivor is left to pick up the pieces - not just emotionally but financially as well.
It may make sense to not only discuss what is being done with investing and any of the other items mentioned above but to read some books together. I'd recommend simple books like "Personal Finance for Dummies" or "The Millionaire Next Door" or for millennials: "I Will Teach You To Be Rich". These are starters that can lead to good conversations on important trade off's you can make to show true love and devotion to your family.