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Sharing Is Caring, and It Could Save You Money

New research may help with your next money talk with your spouse.

Nick MacMillan Pixabay
Just sharing a bank account may not be enough to increase the quality of your financial decisions.
Source: Nick MacMillan Pixabay

Having regular money talks in marriage might be beneficial. Research shows that a sense of shared ownership of money can be associated with lower financial overconfidence. This, in turn, may decrease tendencies to make reckless investment decisions. In a financial context, overconfidence can be seen as a person’s propensity to overestimate their capacity to make sound financial decisions. An array of studies have empirically shown that excessively confident investors tend to make worse decisions than those who are more calibrated in their self-assessments (e.g., Barber & Odean, 2001; Bhandari & Deaves,2006; Gervais & Odean, 2001; Glaser & Weber, 2007, etc.). Overconfident decision-makers are more likely to take risks and fail to promptly search for additional information (Hadar, Sood, & Fox, 2013; Lee & Hogarth, 2000). Consequently, reducing this illusory bias may improve the outcome of a person’s financial transactions.

A research study published in the Financial Planning Review suggests that married couples that have a genuine shared role in deciding how they use their finances are less likely to be plagued by irrational decision making. The study found that the sharing must go beyond merely having a joint account or agreeing to both have a final say on their investment. For couples in which one individual has control over financial decisions, it is less likely that the investor will seek help and more likely that the person expresses excessive confidence in their financial knowledge. Prior research shows that this may lead to decisions on financial investments that fly in the face of the evidence.

StevePB Pixabay
A financial planner could support greater sharing of financial decision making among married clients.
Source: StevePB Pixabay

The study recommends that financial planners should encourage a greater sharing of financial decision making with a spouse for their married clients to avoid the risks that come from overconfidence. However, the study may also hold implications for your next money talk: By giving your spouse the feeling that there is shared ownership of the household income and savings, a deeper and more nuanced discussion may unfold. This might ultimately calibrate your own perception of how much you know about investing. The study provides empirical evidence from two large U.S. datasets that suggest that simply holding a joint account or providing your spouse with a set of options to make a final decision may not be enough to improve the quality of your financial judgment calls.


Barber, B. M., & Odean, T. (2001). Boys will be boys: Gender, overconfidence, and common stock investment. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 116, 261–292.

Bhandari, G., & Deaves, R. (2006). The demographics of overconfidence. The Journal of Behavioral Finance, 7(1), 5–11.

Gervais, S., & Odean, T. (2001). Learning to be overconfident. The Review of Financial Studies,14(1), 1–27.

Glaser, M., & Weber, M. (2007). Overconfidence and trading volume. The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, 32(1), 1–36.

Hadar, L., Sood, S., & Fox, C. R. (2013). Subjective knowledge in consumer financial decisions. Journal of Marketing Research, 50(3), 303–316.

Lee, J., & Hogarth, J. M. (2000). Consumer information search for home mortgages: Who, what, how much, and what else? Financial Services Review, 9(3), 277–293.

Warmath D, Piehlmaier D,Robb C. The impact of shared financial decision making on overconfidence for married adults. Financial Planning Review. 2019;2:e1032.