I Love You, But There's This Money Thing...
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
We like to think of our romantic lives as pure and unbothered by the cold business of spreadsheets and tax documents. But here's the thing: serious relationships are both romantic and financial partnerships. That can come as a shock to a lot of people. I asked for your stories about love and money. Tiffany sent in this plea:
Can we talk about prenups? My fiancé and I just broke things off because we couldn't agree to the terms that each of us wanted...I'm completely devastated and I'm getting mixed messages from people. Some are for and some are against but everyone seems to feel very strongly for one side or the other.
Tiffany’s 28, and she’s disappointed by what killed her otherwise great romance: an irreconcilable disagreement about money.
Her problems aren't unique, though. Relationships demand regular financial negotiation: prenups, joint checking accounts, retirement plans. What if one partner wants to buy a luxury car and the other finds that totally embarrassing? Is it worth getting remarried later in life when pricey hospital bills are looming? These are big questions that might not seem romantic, but talking about them is essential for a healthy relationship.
Got a money or relationship question that's causing stress at home? Let us know in the comments below − or share a tip that might help us all.
Consider Eric Burton and Martha Mills. They opened a joint checking account, and had a perfect system in which each of them deposited a percentage of their income. Until the kid came along. Here’s what Eric wrote us:
After our daughter was born 4 years ago, we chose for Martha to stay at home (since I made more money). We both do a little bit of side work, but I still earn most of the income. Now all of our money goes into joint and we each just tend to use spending money via our credit cards and figure it all out down the line. The stay-at-home mom/not-working-but-always working dynamic kind of [adds to] the difficulties of our new fiscal reality.
When you have a system around money that’s been working for so long, how do you deal with change?
Ask Lola Davidson. Several years ago, she fell in love with a very wealthy man, and he paid for everything. That included the BMW, the handbags, the jewelry, and the condo on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles:
I remember the day we went to the open house of that condo and the realtor, a sharply dressed woman, asked what we both did for a living and I said some obnoxious thing like, "just living the dream," and she replied, "and that's how it should be, the man makes the money and we spend it." Today I'd be so offended if someone said that to me, but that day, at that time in my life, it sounded more like approval.
Then, Lola and her boyfriend broke up. She had no income and had to face her financial problems head-on. That’s what this episode is all about — the ways money complicates our relationships, what we learn, and what questions still linger.
You can read a full transcript of this episode.
And we got a lot of calls from listeners dealing with money in their relationships. Here are a few more.
Erin's inheritance makes her feel guilty that she can't fully support her family:
Rob and his husband have separate checking accounts and very different spending habits:
This listener dated a 32-year-old man who was totally happy to let his mother support him, and she couldn't stick it out:
Jeremy's in his 40s, and has no idea what his parents actually made to afford the life they gave him: