Our Relationship and Money
Whether you are dating, living together, engaged, or even married, your relationship and money is going to be a hot topic. Our problem is, we are never given a guide on how to relate with our love lives and our money. How far with money do we divulge when just dating and where in the relationship do we open up the books to expose what we have been hiding for so long? The following guide will answer these questions and will lead you on the right path to building a better relationship with that awkward thing lingering in the middle of it – money.
Dating with Money
Dating with money is very black and white – it isn’t the best topic of conversation. When you and your hot date are out for a night on the town, one thing that is NOT sexy is talking about how much money you earned last month. Pure awkward – don’t do this. Obviously money is going to be involved since it is in every part of our lives, however it shouldn’t be at the forefront of all conversations. She will see how you pay for dinner and he will see (over time) what you appear to spend most of your money on. You each will begin to learn or assume how the other one handles finances which is perfectly natural. However, now is the time where you get to form your opinion and LEAVE IT IN YOUR HEAD! You could be right on the money, but you could also be a thousand miles off. To assume is to make and a$$ out of you and me, right? –> A$$-U-ME Bottom line: Money talk isn’t sexy during the dating phase.
Living Together with Money
For some of you, you may be thinking I just skipped a step or went out-of-order and you are right. However, I do realize it is 2015 and couples are living together BEFORE they are even engaged. How do I know this? It may be possible that Mrs. Peach and I were shackin’ up before I put a ring on her finger too! I am not saying it is right or wrong FOR YOU, but this is the reality of the world we live in today.
Hello New Roomate I Share a Bed With
When you start living together, money now becomes a much bigger part of the relationship. The best thing you could do is to treat your financial situation as if you were a pair of roommates. Yes, you are probably roomies who share a bed, but the sharing ends there (for now). Obviously you both are really into each other, but don’t let love blind the fact there will need to be a few money moves. First, open up a checking account together and call it the “Home Account”. Before opening it, go over how much each you will be contributing to the account each month. One great way to do this is to create a Living-Together Budget which will budget for the things you both will be contributing to. Ideas here are Rent, Groceries, Cable (or not), and Utilities. All of these things need to be discussed BEFORE he or she moves in with you. You can only imagine how awkward it will be when there is a itemized bill next to the coffee pot at the end of the month – Hmmmmmm, a bill from my boyfriend – how sexy!
After the joint checking account, the sharing of money stops there. You want to make it easy to get the rent paid, but also even easier if you need to end the relationship. Don’t buy a house together, sign a lease together, or even co-sign for one another. This is a terrible idea and I have seen too many people paying a car payment on a car that is driven daily by the ex and their new lover – not a place you want to be. Bottom line: Sharing of money ends with the joint checking account.
Engaged with Money
Congratulations! This is an exciting time in your life but also a crucial time for a good start between you, your fiancé, and money. When she (or he) said yes to you, they also said yes to your money – good or bad. You will soon be transitioning pronouns from “I” and “my” to “us” and “we”. This is the time to put EVERYTHING out on the table. Remember, you just asked this person to spend the rest of eternity with you and they said YES to becoming ONE.
Engagement is exciting, so let’s start with the exciting part – the wedding and the wedding budget. This is going to be your first attempt (unless you were shackin’ up together) to do a budget. You both need to agree on the cost before you start planning this party of love and matrimony. This may be a tough thing to discuss, but you will agree it is much easier to have these awkward conversations BEFORE you are married than a year into the marriage and your new bed is on the floor next to the dog. Agree on a wedding budget you both CAN afford and stick to it. Give yourself the gift of a new marriage with a wedding you didn’t have to go into debt for. Remember, a wedding is one day and payments are usually 1,672 days – give or take a few.
The next thing you both want to do is open up the books. When the ring went on the finger, the financial books opened up for both of you to read over. First, get a copy of your credit report to show each other and to also check for errors. This should be done once every quarter, but a great time is during the engagement. This will show you and your spouse EVERYTHING they are agreeing to marry. Also, show each other your bank statements, your investment assets, and your overall financial blueprint. If the number one cause of divorce in North America is money fights and money problems, then give yourself a statistical advantage of making it by opening up the books BEFORE the marriage begins. However, do not join your finances together yet. We still need to show up to the wedding and say I DO. Bottom line: Start the money talk now and get it out in the open.
Married and Money
Whether you are newly married or celebrating your 20 year anniversary, this part of money is consistent for both of you. The first thing you need to do if you haven’t already is to change your pronouns. You need to change I, ME, AND MY to US, WE, AND OURS. I no longer have a student loan, WE have a student loan. My investments didn’t return 18% last year but ours sure did. Our bank accounts, our investments, our debt, and our love, right!?Monthly budget meetings need to become part of the marriage - FOREVERClick To Tweet
If you started doing this during the engagement, then you both have an idea for how it is supposed to go. If you have never budgeted before, visit the budget page to learn how to budget and also get your own budget forms to start right away. Give yourself a huge advantage in your marriage by creating a plan for your money that you both agree on. Remember, it is OUR money now.
If you have debt, then all this means is you are starting off normal. However, normal is paycheck-to-paycheck with a life of payments forever. You don’t want to be normal you want to be awesome! Sit down and go over your debt together to create a plan to pay it off as soon as possible. I would suggest using the Debt Snowball method. This is the same method we used to pay off $52k in 7 months to leave the normal life to become weird and thus awesome with money.
You should make everything “ours” by adding your spouse to your existing bank accounts, however is much easier if you open up joint accounts together and close out the rest. Also, don’t forget to add each other to all the assets and liabilities involved. You can add your spouse to the car titles and you should add your spouse to the mortgage. The mortgage is often trickier and may require a re-fi, but you don’t want to be living in your wife’s house. You want to live in our house. Make sure your spouse is the beneficiary of everything and find a place in your house where everything financial can be accessed. Create a file drawer that contains all of your money information in one spot. If something were to happen to one of you, the other one can open a drawer and get to every aspect of both of your financial lives all in one place.
Money is everywhere in your life, therefore make it completely transparent for one another. Let money be the opportunity to grow in your marriage and relationships verses becoming another statistic of divorce and heartache. Bottom line: If you ignore the money aspect of your marriage long enough, you probably won’t be married long enough.
As you grow together in your marriage, grow together with money. Your goal should be to leave a legacy to the future generations of YOUR LAST NAME HERE. The sad part of life is more marriages are ending in divorce and the majority of these divorces are caused by money problems. We know this is true, therefore create a plan to avoid this ugly fact of life. It is worth the effort, I promise.
Be good to yourself, your friends, your love, and BE GOOD TO YOUR MONEY!