Updated: Jun 22, 2022
Opposites attract. So, what happens when someone who has already made plans on how to spend their next paycheck meets someone who penny-pinches? When 'spender' meets 'saver.'
Lisa called me saying that Tim had given her an ultimatum — he would leave her if she maxed out her credit card. It was the second time he was settling her debt.
Her income was small, and he had to bail her out again. Tim made about five times what she did. He paid the bills and the mortgage. She paid for her clothes, yoga classes, gifts, and other incidentals.
They kept some of their finances separate. Tim was frugal and kept a tight rein on his spending. This story is all too familiar — where ‘spender’ meets ‘saver.’ Opposites attract, even in their approach to money.
Risk-Taker vs. Risk-Averse.
So, what do you do when you’re married to someone at the opposite end of the spectrum? Maybe yours is a situation when one of you is a risk-taker, and the other is risk-averse.
Sarah and Ethan were on the extreme sides of the risk-taker/risk-averse spectrum. She came from a financially sound home, and his family could barely make ends meet.
Ethan was very ambitious. And not afraid of taking on substantial debt if he felt there would be a payoff. Before meeting Sarah, he had leveraged himself and bought four homes.
Soon after their engagement, Ethan disclosed his finances to Sarah. The amount of debt he had made her sick to her stomach. Even ‘good debt’ made her uneasy.
Sarah gave Etan an ultimatum — he needed to sell the condominiums before she’d marry him. Unfortunately, this was the crash of 2008 – affected property prices.
Most couples are more comfortable revealing their bodies before revealing their finances.
When opposites attract.
Before you say “I do,”
● Openly discuss with each other your goals – goals as individuals and as a couple.
● Prioritize those goals. Do you want children before you can afford a home?
● You come from different backgrounds. Discuss what money means to you — this will shed light on your relationship with money.
● Just as people have different levels of risk tolerance, some people are comfortable carrying debt more than others. How do you feel about debt?
● Discuss whether you want joint accounts or would prefer to keep things separate.
● How will you share the costs of running a home?
● Talk about your experiences with money.
● If you decide not to keep your finances separate, then disclose your debts, assets, and financial obligations.
● Meet with a financial advisor you can both be happy with.
● How much control does each person need in shared finances?
● What will be your approach to dealing with conflicts around money?
● How much do you need to tell each other before making a large purchase?
Conflicts Over Money
While finance is rarely discussed before marriage, it seems to be the main issue when couples choose to separate.
Conflicts around money are one of the leading causes of divorce, crossing all socio-economic groups. Money is a highly emotional subject connected with feelings of safety and security. And if you’re two people with different approaches to money, you will have disagreements.
What happens if you have different or competing goals and values? Money, along with power and control, is a common catalyst in other marital problems. The lack of money is not the cause of conflicts, but the lack of compatibility in this area of finances creates the problem.
How transparent are you? Does your spouse know how much debt you have? How does your wife feel about money? What are your husband’s financial goals for the relationship?
As with everything else in any partnership, communication is key!
Bringing It All Together
Let’s get back to Sarah and Ethan. Ethan sold three of his condominiums and rented out one of them. They married and saved up an impressive down payment for their first home.
An excellent resource for you and your partner is David Bach’s “Smart Couples Finish Rich, Revised and Updated: 9 Steps to Creating a Rich Future for You and Your Partner.”
If you’re single or decide to keep your finances, separate, read Jen Sincero’s “You Are a Badass & You Are a Badass at Making Money 2 Books Collection Set.”
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Money is a leading cause of divorce; many couples think they are alone with their financial struggles or have given up. Marlow and Chris have the stories to prove they are NOT alone!
Couples Money discusses the financial dynamic of a partnership from the perspective of a married couple in the financial services industry. After seeing the economic reality of thousands of couples from all walks of life, they felt they must share their insights into what they believe is the cure for "financial cancer."
Before setting up her own business, Jennifer Thompson was a financial advisor for over twenty years. She wrote and coached individuals and companies to achieve their goals aligned with what they value. www.compelling365.com