Sorry I missed you guys last week! I had a great time traveling through Europe while experiencing the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. It was my first time in Europe so now I regret not going there sooner.
A plane selfie was a must.
I’m sure everyone is wondering what kind of deals I got in order to make this trip happen. I won’t talk about that today, but I will give you a teaser and tell you that this trip only cost me about $1,000. Keep following the blog for my post on travel hacks to come in the upcoming weeks!
I want to talk about fun stuff today. Relationships and finances.
Relationships are a tough subject. Combine that with money and it probably makes you want to have a meltdown. There is a reason why financial differences are a top contributor to marriages ending in divorce. Though you see this in many marriages that have lasted years, millennials have started to see this trend with couples that have gotten married too young, and without ever having the dreaded “talk”. The talk? Yes, the talk. The talk where you discuss finances, lifestyles, budgeting, saving, investing, and living. The talk that most couples don’t want to have. But Pervez, isn’t it enough that we love each other? Can’t we figure it out along the way? That’s the main excuse I hear from couples that ignore the fact that they have to deal with these things once they get married. Love plus different financial tendencies equals broke. Money broke, and simply put, broken up.
There are some couples that ignore all financial matters until after marriage, and then there are some couples that combine bank accounts for their one month anniversaries. If you want to end your relationship with the person you are with as soon as possible, please do this. It is the absolute perfect way to break up! I promise, there will be no tears, just a lot of yelling and screaming.
Combining finances means commingling your money with someone else’s as well as possibly taking on someone’s debt. These things are a deadly combination as time passes. Missing bills, overspending, and easy access to more money can help destroy the relationship. On top of all of this, your significant other can see everything you are spending money on.
Combining finances isn’t always a bad thing. It depends on where you are in the relationship, whether both sides are financially mature, and if you have had the money talk.
When is it time to have the talk? I can’t answer that question for you, but I can tell you that as soon as you start thinking about taking the next step, you need to have the talk whether you are ready or not. Tell your partner how you feel, and take out your calendar to pick a date. Yes, pick a date and time as if it were a meeting for work that you could not miss.
Once you have picked a date, tell your partner to bring questions that he or she may have.
Some questions to ask:
What are your personal and financial goals? Do the two mix?
Do you have any debt? How will you pay this off?
What are your spending habits?
What is your credit score?
*How do your parents spend money? How do you feel about this?
Where do you shop?
Would you rather buy a million dollar mansion or a $300,000 home in a modest neighborhood which would allow us to travel the world?
Prestige or money?
Freedom or things?
How do you feel about combining finances?
How do you save and how much?
How do you feel about investing and retirement accounts?
These are just some of the many questions that are important to get answered from both sides. You’re probably wondering why I put a * next to the question about the parents. I consider this one of the most important questions that you can ask your significant other about money. A lot of times, spending habits get inherited by kids. A lot of times, these are the kids that are shopping at Whole Foods only because their parents did or do (no comment). “Most people will never become wealthy in one generation if they are married to people who are wasteful. A couple cannot accumulate wealth if one of its members is a hyperconsumer. This is especially true when one or both are trying to build a successful business. Few people can sustain profligate spending habits and simultaneously build wealth.” This is one of my favorite paragraphs from one of the top personal finance books ever written, The Millionaire Next Door. I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants to learn about how people accumulate wealth and the actions of people with “real” money.
After you have had the chance to have a basic understanding of each other’s finances, talk about your feelings on the real fun stuff. Marriage and kids. Talk about how much you want to spend on a ring and wedding. While talking about rings, if one of your answers with how much the ring should cost is three to five times one’s salary, please raise your hand and accept the “stupid” award. This is one of my biggest pet peeves as you should NEVER base financial expectations on other people’s traditions. I have seen people take on debt to buy a ring. If you need to do that, please save yourself divorce fee’s.
Anyway, if after all of these talks, you two decide that you want to stay together(50-50 chance here), come up with a plan. Ask each other if it would be better to combine all finances or keep them separate.
The two main comments I will make on this subject from my experience and research….
1. DO NOT combine finances unless you are 100% sure that this is the person you want to die with.
If you decide to stay together after the talk but you aren’t sure if he/she is the person you want to marry, stop right there and don’t take any action. Let the other person know how you feel and re-open the conversation once you know what you want. If you do end up wanting to combine everything, create a budget and saving plan before doing so. Come up with strategies on paying bills as well as who will pay for what. Automating bills and savings are always the best way to go, especially in this situation.
I think that keeping the majority of your money and financial matters separate could save a lot of time, energy, stress, and most importantly, resentment, away from your relationship. This will also help you become more financially mature, which will lead to an easy transition once you decide to combine. I think opening a joint bank account with a small amount of money isn’t a bad idea. It can be called a “fun” account, or a “dream” account where you two save up for important things. You can also automate a portion of your paycheck to go directly into this account and watch it grow. If you open a joint credit card, make sure your credit limit is low to avoid anyone overspending.
I think it is extremely important to have open communication about money in a relationship. If you are afraid that the other person won’t be open about their finances, go through this list and I am sure you will have the talk immediately.