It’s that time of year again, close to Valentine’s Day where love and relationships are renewed and celebrations are in the air.
In the very best of all worlds, social, business, and personal, relationships should always be completely harmonious. This is not always the case, and don’t we know it!
Finance issues are one of the greatest disrupters to all relationships, whether friends, families, partners, shareholders, governments, professional sports, employers/employees, and individuals.
Statistically, Google surveys and relationship counsellor opinions across the North Atlantic Quadrangle, note that personal individual financial incompatibility can torpedo a relationship with a significant other faster than almost any other relationship commitment issue.
There are many financial relationship stressors:
• Lack of communication on goals and/or no shared goals at all — she wants to travel, I want a huge living room entertainment centre
• Spendthrift or parsimonious lifestyles — she refuses to spend a penny on herself and criticises me when she deems my purchases as “too expensive”
• Unrealised expectations — were you really looking for that knight in shining armour?
• Keeping money and bank accounts secret: how many of us do this — hiding shopping packages the minute we get home, then releasing new items very slowly, or having a separate undisclosed credit card
• Unrevealed heavy debt loads — he/she never told me he had US Internal Revenue tax liabilities from a previous marriage (this a true US story), or that separate credit card debt balance overhanging its credit limit;
• Jealousy and competitiveness — she earns far more money than I do, it has driven a wedge between us
• Narcissism and insecurity — I spend because I want it, and it makes me feel good about myself;
• He wants to accept a new job in another jurisdiction — a much higher salary, but she refuses to move
• Extended family obligations exaggerating divisive loyalties — he is giving his first family more than he spends on our family — the unfairness of it all.
Readers, bet you can add lots of additional money conflict areas that require caring, respectful negotiations for best mutually agreeable results.
Is financial compatibility Respect for each other? A large part of a couple’s positive relationship progression is their shared visions, the aspirations for a better life, the dreams of a establishing a home in their community, securing a financially successful future, and the social progression of each other through life’s passages.
Individuals and their SOs respect each other’s goals enough to commit to sharing glorious times; while courageous enough to understand that there may be times that are incredibly tough. Thus, respect, shared values, trust, and mutual decision-making relative to financial planning are true necessities for a continuing, strong relationship.
How does your relationship, current or future stand? How do you handle financial matters now? Do you know anything about how your SO handles his/hers? Have you ever discussed how you feel about money? Note that a significant other can be: a long-term relationship, a partnership, a marriage, a civil union, etc.
Take the financial compatibility quiz, individually.
Simple questions, but low scores may mean compromise, or just not financially compatible. Answer yes or no.
1. Do we talk about money decisions regularly?
2. Have we decided how we will handle the bills?
3. Do we feel that each of us handles money well?
4. Would I feel comfortable if my SO made a purchase of $3,000 without telling me?
5. Does SO know what my future and retirement dreams are?
6. Do I know the asset amounts, eg savings including investments (and debt) my SO is bringing into our long-term relationship?
7. Do we have more than five (total) credit cards between us?
8. Do we pay our credit card debt on time?
9. Do I know my SO’s salary and if SO is saving in a retirement plan?
10. Do we have some common lifestyle goals?
11. Does my SO keep his/her money separate as if it is his/her own for ever?
12. Did I ever talk about money with my parents?
13. Do I know how my SO would feel if I just decide to quit my job and start a business?
14. I earn more than my SO, will he/she resent this mismatch over time?
15. When we talk about money, does my SO listen to my point of view?
16. Do I respect and listen to my SO wants, needs, and financial goals?
17. Do I think that my SO is a cheapskate?
18. Do we have a financial plan that we are comfortable with and can both agree to actually put into action?
There you have it. Each of you Take this test separately. See how your scores add up.
0-6 points: you need to initiate some serious discussions to promote a better understanding of each other’s perspectives on money, and what you want out of your life together.
7-12 points: you seem to understand each other, but you need to work on the financial areas where you don’t agree.
13-18 points: well, I guess it was love and compatibility at first sight. You are well on your way, and should be putting a joint investing plan in place that will grow along with your relationship for the rest of your lives together.
Is it better to know what is ahead, or is it better to dream of what can be, and put a financial plan in place to make it happen?
Let me know your results.
Happy Valentine’s Day. May you have a significant other to share your hopes, dreams, and a happy, successful life.
• Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services. Dual citizen: Bermudian/US. Pondstraddler Life, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders and their globally mobile connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Finance columnist to The Royal Gazette, Bermuda. All proceeds earned from this column go to The Reading Clinic. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org