Who are the people in my life with which I can share my financial information? Or should that information almost always be private?

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Posted by nathan boldyga (MONEY FORUMS: 4, Answers: 0)
Asked on May 6, 2016 10:30 pm
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Hi Nathan – thanks for writing. This is such a great question! You are exactly right that financial information is special and private – it’s not information that should be openly shared with many people. The answer depends, I think, on your age, financial circumstances, and the previous experiences you have with the people in your life.

Your age makes a big difference in who you would trust with financial information. Until a person is well able to support themselves and manage his or her money, parents (if they care and can be trusted) should be part of a financial life. They will probably help you financially, and so they deserve to know about your financial details. As you get to the point where you support yourself, your parents would become less and less involved and would know less. At that point, if you have a significant other or spouse, that person would know all about your financial life and hopefully be working with you to broaden and grow your collective finances. It’s unlikely during your 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s that anyone other than your spouse or significant other would need to know much about your financial life. Once you move into your late 50’s and beyond, you will probably want to bring your children in on private financial information in preparation for aging in case you need help then. If you are going to college, the school and the government will know many of the intimate details of your financial life because you will likely fill out the FAFSA to see if you can get some financial aid for college. A similar thing will happen at the other end of the spectrum of aging when you are elderly and want to enter a nursing home where the government and the home will be privy to private financial details.

Your financial circumstances also make a difference. If you are very wealthy, you will likely have a team of attorneys, money managers, financial advisors, CPAs, and other experts you will pay to help you manage your wealth. Most of us don’t have that kind of wealth, but many middle to upper socio economic earners like to rely on financial planners or investment advisors for financial help. In that case, you would share your financial info with those experts, hopefully who you trust and who are trustworthy. Certified financial planners (CFPs) and investment advisors are bound by what is called a “fiduciary standard” that makes them legally committed to putting the client’s best interest over their own.

Finally, your life experiences with others will guide you in who to share financial information with. You may have a parent or parents who have not demonstrated care or good choices with regard to money or who may have substance abuse problems that make them an unsafe choice to know very much about your financial situation. In that case, if you know another safe, responsible person you trust, you might be able to ask that person for advice and guidance and share your personal financial information with them. You also may have a spouse or significant other with substance abuse problems, very bad credit, tax evasion issues, or spending problems; in that case you would want to be careful about what financial information you shared with them so that you protect yourself. I’m not so naïve or unrealistic or cold that I would say you should break off ties with people who have financial irresponsibility (because we all love people who have problems!), but you would want to be careful not to open joint bank accounts or joint credit accounts together, file taxes together, or make other financial moves that could bring you financial ruin.

I am so glad you wrote, and I have so enjoyed thinking about and writing about your very intelligent and thoughtful question. Best wishes to you, and please write back if we can help with anything else!

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Posted by Kathryn Hauer (MONEY FORUMS: 0, Answers: 18)
Answered: June 12, 2016 7:07 am