Here's One Way Being Coupled Up Can Endanger Your Bottom Line

Marriage — or at least, long-term coupling-up — is what brings us here together today. For thousands of years, matrimony wasn't about love but finances. These days, when it comes to combining a household, one of us usually tends to delegate, and that can have consequences.

Researchers in Texas and Colorado have been studying financial literacy in couples. Not everyone is perfectly on top of things when they tie the knot, but generally after years of living independently, both partners tend to be on roughly equal footing. But within the household, spouses specialize over time. One becomes the money manager, and the other begins to lose what financial literacy they had.

"People pay attention to what they need to know, when they need to know it," said lead researcher Adrian F. Ward of the University of Texas at Austin in a press release. "The assignment of financial responsibility causes the two members of the couple to go on different trajectories for a lifetime. The longer the relationship, the greater the gap in financial literacy between the 'household CFO' and the non-CFO."

While this has obvious implications for the non-financially literate partner in the event of death or separation, it's worth noting that long before that, cultivating financial literacy can have a real, positive effect on your lifelong well-being. Besides, being able to plan together can help couples chart their own courses. It's just one more way that maintaining a little independence will pay off over the long run.