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Newbie needing advice
Old 04-03-2013, 03:42 PM   #1
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Newbie needing advice

I'm a SAHM, married for 20 years, with two young kids. My husband comes from a family who'd rather look well off than be well off and I come from a millionaire-next-door family, so our childhood personal finance lessons were quite different growing up. I had to get him on board with saving early on in our marriage and he's quite good at it now. And while our financials are in decent order--manageable mortgage, zero other debt, college funds going--there's one area that bugs me: the investment accounts. We have it divided up so that I take care of the personal/household finances and budget and he does the investing and manages retirement/taxable accounts. We had looked into having an adviser doing this, simply because our emotions and defenses go on high alert with each other when it comes to financial expectations--but made the decision to do it ourselves after interviewing some pretty lame advisers.

I am straight up with him every month about our expenses and % saved. In fact, I have him make the transfer to the investment account, so he has a hand in it and is aware of where we stand for the month. Now, when it comes to the investment accounts, I don't feel like the same level of communication is there. I can review the retirement accounts and from what I see, they're still limping along. If I ask about this then I'm hit with defensiveness and "well, do it yourself" or excuses that other investors or the market is doing worse. He always makes it seem like we're ahead of the game, but from what I see, my accounts are about break-even for the past 6 years, including my contributions. I also believe he's exaggerating the amount in our non-retirement account by a couple $100ks. I keep asking about this and the numbers keep changing, so something isn't adding up. This is the one account I don't have access to, despite him telling me to look up the info if I'm so concerned. I've requested the user name/password so I can check it out tonight.

This is so incredibly frustrating. Right now, I run the numbers with the lower numbers (based on the account info I pulled up today)--not the exaggerated ones-- and it says I'm still at 99% for retiring at 57, so things aren't dire--that's still 15 years away. I just don't know what to believe and if I should let this go on. Maybe it's an ego thing and he's embarrassed that he hasn't done as well investing as he thought he should or he's trying to protect me by hiding info about losses. All I know is there's a serious trust issue going on.

We run around with this same argument a few times a year--me asking for updates, him telling me stuff, me asking for proof or questioning the % returns, both of us getting upset by the end of it.

And I don't want to make my husband out to be the bad guy. He's a good worker, great father, and all-around good guy. He has a good, trustworthy reputation in his field of work, is highly looked up to in his industry, and has proven that he won't compromise his integrity for the sake of unethical higher ups. I know he's just trying to do the best he can, but I don't know if he's trying to make things look better than what they are or what is going on. But it's like a fisherman telling the story of how big a fish he caught.

So, I guess the advice question I have is has anyone dealt with anything like this before? Or what would you recommend for the next step? Or how do I approach this without either of us raising the defense shields. You'd think after 20 years we'd have this figured out.
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:53 PM   #2
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He should be getting a statement for his retirement accounts every quarter. Why not just look at the statements. If he is hiding them, he is hiding them for a reason.
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Old 04-03-2013, 04:05 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum, Sassy!

Yes, you need to see the full statements. This is your money too.

Does your DH have any issues with gambling?
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Old 04-03-2013, 04:27 PM   #4
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Men are supposed to be good at barbequing steaks, carving turkeys and investing. So, I suspect that his pride is hurt when it turns out he isn't so good at one of these.

Maybe you can jointly decide to move your accounts to broad based index funds like many of us here have done.
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Old 04-03-2013, 04:32 PM   #5
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We do not have statements mailed anymore. They're all online. I have the user name/passwords for all of them except this big one, so I know what the rest look like.

I'm suspecting this is his version of "keeping up with the Jones" or he doesn't want to reflect poorly in my eyes. He wants to be doing better than average and beat the market so he embellishes with me, assuming that at some point we'll recoup any losses. He doesn't have a gambling problem. He has played around with margins in the past early in our marriage but got away from that. Too much stress and risk involved.

This all confuses me because he says we're in very conservative positions but I don't see us making anything. To me, it appears we're just holding steady with what we've put in. For instance, in 6 years I've contributed $19,000 to my one IRA and it's only gained $14,000. That's a red flag. Or I look at his rollover IRA and it's gained 2.2% in 10 years. Perhaps with the 2008 GFC thrown in there, but over a number of yearsl?? Or last week we were talking about the taxable account and how it was divided between cash/other holdings. I threw out the amount today when I was talking with him and he said, "Oh, I don't think it's quite that high." He just told me last week, so what was it?!?!
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:07 PM   #6
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I'm afraid that we don't have this issue because DW delegates all financial management to me (that is my background), but I do have a couple suggestions for you.

Since one of the sore points seems to be stock-picking, why not transition towards no-load, low-cost balanced or target date funds, particularly in your taxable accounts? I'm thinking of funds like Vanguard's Wellesley, STAR, Wellington, Balanced and their target date funds or similar funds from other providers. For these funds, the only real decision is whether the AA and risk profile of the funds relates to your investment objectives for that pot of money so if the fund underperforms you can blame the manager and if it overperforms you can both take credit for making a wise investment.

The other suggestion would be to get all your assets and liabilities onto Quicken, keep it up-to-date and use it to periodically review your overall financial situation and how you are doing in relation to your goals. You can run reports that look at your actual investment performance for your investments combined or for any specific account or security. You can also use the Lifetime Planner included in Quicken to monitor how you are doing on your retirement goal.

You could pitch it that this Quicken information and reports will keep the both of you informed on your financial situation AND will give him better information for his role of managing your investments.

The other thing that I have found useful in monitoring my investments is analysis provided by the fund companies (Vanguard's Portfolio Watch in my case) or you could use Morningstar's X-Ray analysis.

Note that anywhere I say you or yours above, I mean as a couple, not individually.

On your last post are you saying that the $19k that you have contributed to your IRA over 6 years is now $33k?
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:11 PM   #7
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Can you play "stupid" and say "I'm not getting it, maybe if I just saw the statements I could figure it out by right now I feel SO stupid because I'm confused".
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:22 PM   #8
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I'm sorry but I don't comprehend this conversation. My DW and I have been on the same page, with joint accounts since our marriage 35 years ago. Our individual retirement accounts have been accessible to each other from day one. If there's something to hide there's a bigger problem.
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:28 PM   #9
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Thanks, pb4uski.

I have suggested Vanguard funds before but he thinks he can do better than funds. (Throwing hands up in air.) He says overall our investments outperform the market and funds, but I never see a specific rate of return or anything like that. Just his word.

Regarding my IRA, I was saying that I've contributed $19k over 6 years, but the entire account has only increased by $14k during those years, including my contributions, so I'm out $5k and 6 years of compounding.

We are back to using Quicken (after being off during an expat assignment and an MSMoney hiatus). The accounts I have access to are in there, but not this taxable account. He says he just hasn't had the time to input it yet.

I don't need to act stupid about the accounts--I'm feeling pretty stupid the way it is. Plus, he gets tired of explaining things to me when the fact of the matter is I just want to see gain/loss/% returned. He thinks his word should be enough, but I need numbers in front of me.
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:30 PM   #10
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I'm not sure it makes sense for you to hold him accountable for a certain level of return. When you say "our investments havent earned enough" it might feel to him like you are an analyst on a quarterly earnings call.

It seems you two could benefit from agreeing on a strategy. You both approve the budget, right? This is no different. Google "investing policy statement" to find some samples.

SIS
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sassy View Post
........I have suggested Vanguard funds before but he thinks he can do better than funds. (Throwing hands up in air.) He says overall our investments outperform the market and funds, but I never see a specific rate of return or anything like that. Just his word............
Sounds like he is in denial. Let him save face, then take over the investing. He will probably be glad to have it off his plate.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:27 PM   #12
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If you have any brokerage accounts with Fidelity you can set up an easy feature called "FULL VIEW" so it is easy to see all accounts, even those at Vanguard and such.

You know, it's kinda' dumb when you think about it - how are you going to jump in if necessary (accident, stroke, worse?) and keep things going unless you know where everything is and the strategy being used? You should also be set up cross-wise on all these accounts as an authorized user.

Maybe you can ask him to produce a chart for the past 5 years that compares to the S&P500?

Just because you have more than a decade to go before retirement doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to know what the asset allocation is today.

Maybe you two should switch "jobs" for a quarter?
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:34 PM   #13
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I wouldn't dwell too much on past performance - even though from what you have relayed it doesn't sound very good - it is water over the dam and there is nothing good to be gained other than more conflict - let it go.

If you have a 10 year time horizon you could compare your investment results from here on out to a 2025 target date fund's performance. If your results consistently lag, then dump what you have and buy the target date fund.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:55 PM   #14
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I have met quite a few women who knew nothing about their mutual investments until they were suddenly widowed . Some had some not so nice surprises . It is also your money so get acess to that account .
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:38 PM   #15
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If there's something to hide there's a bigger problem.
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Does your DH have any issues with gambling?
My thoughts exactly. Or worse, does he have a floosey on the side

Seriously though, his keeping things from you is simply not acceptable.
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:54 PM   #16
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To the OP, I apologize in advance - but it really looks like he is hiding something. If it is a non-retirement account that he will not let you see, and is coming up with continual excuses or delays in you looking at it, I suspect there is either nothing in the account or he has done so badly trading on it that he doesn't want you to know, in the hopes of recovering it before he is forced to show it to you.

You say he played around with margins but got away from that... maybe he has had a relapse and is trying to keep you from finding out.

I don't know what will work at this point other than the direct "I'm concerned about our financial future, why can't I see what is in the account?" approach.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:09 PM   #17
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Thanks, pb4uski.

I have suggested Vanguard funds before but he thinks he can do better than funds. (Throwing hands up in air.) He says overall our investments outperform the market and funds, but I never see a specific rate of return or anything like that. Just his word.

Regarding my IRA, I was saying that I've contributed $19k over 6 years, but the entire account has only increased by $14k during those years, including my contributions, so I'm out $5k and 6 years of compounding.

We are back to using Quicken (after being off during an expat assignment and an MSMoney hiatus). The accounts I have access to are in there, but not this taxable account. He says he just hasn't had the time to input it yet.

I don't need to act stupid about the accounts--I'm feeling pretty stupid the way it is. Plus, he gets tired of explaining things to me when the fact of the matter is I just want to see gain/loss/% returned. He thinks his word should be enough, but I need numbers in front of me.
He could be hiding something or maybe your investment knowledge is lacking somewhat and either you don't understand him or he doesn't tell you much because he doesn't think you understand?

I only say this because twice now you've described your IRA situation and neither time has it made sense. You said your IRA "only increased by $14000". To me that means you've contributed $19000 and it has increased by $14000 and now totals $33000. But then you say you've lost $5000. So is the IRA now worth $33,000 or $14,000?
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:51 PM   #18
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Seems like you have two problems:

(1) you don't have any real knowledge of the current amount or composition of your non-registered financial assets; and

(2) your non-registered assets are - apparently - performing poorly.

I'd suggest focusing on (1), about which husband should not reasonably be defensive unless he is funneling off money for something illicit. Defer (2) for the time being ... it is not a priority, relatively speaking.

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We do not have statements mailed anymore. They're all online. I have the user name/passwords for all of them except this big one, so I know what the rest look like.
How did you get the information for the other accounts? Can you use the same approach to obtain the password and user name for the big account?

I don't see any legitimate reason why you shouldn't have access to all of the account statements (on-line or hard copy). What would happen if your husband got hit by a bus tomorrow?
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:19 PM   #19
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No gambling. No floosey. Basic hard-working guy that could have stepped out of The Waltons line up.

I finally have the login info. He said it was w/ the others, but the others are written on the front of the file folders that store the old hard copies. This one wasn't there. So he wrote it down and gave it to me.

We've discussed holdings before and I know it's pretty passive investing. I understand I'm not going to have big gains investing in low-risk stuff, but losing most of the contributions I put in doesn't make any sense to me.
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:48 PM   #20
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I also believe he's exaggerating the amount in our non-retirement account by a couple $100ks. I keep asking about this and the numbers keep changing, so something isn't adding up.
So now that you have access, what did you find? I.e., was he exaggerating the balance by ~$200,000, or not?
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