Here’s the thing, no one likes to talk about money, and here is what I mean with my statement: where are all the 401k Facebook updates? How about the Tweets about paying off a credit card, student loan, or car debt? I’ve never seen anyone post about their retirement savings account or what they’re doing to raise there credit score. This is what I am talking about when it comes to money, and the difference between the examples I have given, can make or break your relationship.
Does money matter in a relationship? YES. If a man asks you out on a date, do you expect him to pay? If you ask a man out is it not fair for him to expect you to pay? Money comes into play in the very beginning stages of your relationship. One of the first questions asked by us of a new love interest is, “What do you do for a living?”. Issues over money are the leading cause of divorce. Money is an essential and must be discussed. So, how do we get to a point to where we can openly discuss our financials with our partner? By talking! Seriously, communication. That’s it. Do it, do it now…well wait until you finish reading this post first, then do it.
We all have debt in some form or another, whether it be a student loan, mortgage payment, credit card bills or car payments, we all have bills that we have to pay. When we are dating we tend to avoid discussing our bills and what we make per month at our job. Instead we focus on wearing our best outfits, impressing one another with fabulous dinners or outings and nurturing our budding romance. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
It’s when we decide to be monogamous, live together, or enter into the union of marriage that the subject of money i.e. how much debt we owe, how much we put aside each month for savings, do we have a monthly savings, our spending habits, our parents (or whoever raised you) spending habits, if we have a 401k, what do we invest our money in, are our closets full of Gucci, Prada etc. and is there is nothing saved for a rainy day. All of these issues and more need to be discussed and you should not feel uncomfortable in asking, because when you don’t, all of these issues will eventually come to the surface, bubble over and in most cases dissolve your relationship or marriage.
I am very independent and take care of myself. Do I make the amount of money I’d like to make? Well of course not…not yet anyway. Am I paying off a student loan? Yes. Do I have a job that affords me a 401k? Yes. Is my income spent on going to the bar, buying shoes and purses, and taking vacations? My money is spent on paying off the small amount of debt I have, sometimes I buy clothes, and sometimes I travel.
Luckily I’m in my 30’s now, (while I work three jobs) and know how to manage my money. My parents did not spend frivolously and have done well for themselves. I made some financial mistakes in my 20’s by signing up for two credit cards on campus, but they funded two vacations and Christmas gifts that year I had no money to buy anyone anything, and I paid them off.
This is what I will have to tell the future great love of my life if I expect us to make it. I will also be asking him all of the above topic questions. Why? If we live together or get married then all of his financial responsibilities will become a part of my life. What if he/she owes $200k in debt and never tells you (because you don’t discuss financials) and you get married? There debt AUTOMATICALLY becomes yours. Scary right?
Take the plunge and talk to your partner about money. Making a list of questions you would like to ask beforehand is beneficial, and if you do not want to discuss your debt then resolve to separate everything financially…meaning you keep your accounts, bills and responsibilities separate, and write out an agreement about who pays what bills, and stick to it. Separation of financial works for many couples, but either way you will have to discuss this at some point, so…do it now.