Back when I was single I would proudly declare that I only owed money on my sweet Corolla. I can go into more detail about that money choice but the important part is I wanted to talk about money with every potential mate. Why? I didn’t want to find out months into the relationship that they had $20,000 of credit card debt. I wanted to find someone as responsible with money as myself. So money talk on the first date is a must. I also felt like I was doing a service for my poor date, teaching them that the American Dream of living in debt. Every first date deserves unsolicited financial advice.
Anyhow, know your financial goals and don’t be afraid to share them. If money is the number 2 reason for divorce then it’s absolutely appropriate to get this discussion out of the way on the first date. You can learn about what a person values and what a person doesn’t value. I never had fancy clothes but I always went on cool trips! Saving money day to day would allow me to splurge on vacations and I wanted someone equally enthusiastic with this method of living.
If you start dating someone and all you do is expensive dates, that will be their expectation throughout your relationship. Don’t bankrupt yourself trying to impress someone.
Never go into debt to impress your boyfriend or girlfriend. Looking back, a cubic zirconium engagement ring would have made more sense for what I valued. Mr Miser bought me the real thing (diamond) because that’s what society tells us is “real love.”
People generally believe their financial arrangement with their spouse is either the best. Few people feel indifferent towards their joined or not joined finances. I, of course, believe our arrangement is the best. Shocking, I know!
Here is our story.
I worked through college and I graduated with almost no debt. Mr. Miser had fun in college and graduated with a small amount of debt. I had such an aversion to paying for someone else’s loans that I refused joint finances. Once we did the math, our separate finances didn’t make any sense. We wanted more simplicity and we a baby on the way. We paid off his small amount of loans and combined our finances, sorta. At the time, I still felt confident that I wanted my “own” money. We had different buying tendencies. I was fearful that our differences would cause tension. So we came up with a solution. ALL money into one bank account and then we would automate a monthly allowance. We have tweaked out allowances up and down over the past 10 years depending on our financial goals. At first, we were both afraid we wouldn’t be able to do what we wanted, so we had a high allowance rate. Then we realized over time that we needed less than we thought. Currently, we each get $150 a month.
This covers going:
- Going out without each other, such as dinner, coffee, movies, drinks, etc
- Frivolous items
- Cell phone
I suggest all couples have the conversation on how to keep each other in line and on the same path. Sometimes you need a friendly reminder on what your values are. Mr Miser frequently reminds me that there are cheaper vacation options than Disney and I often remind him that it’s better to retire early than buy a speedy car.
What is your ultimate goal as a couple?
part – time?
- Is it to be debt-free?
- Is it to have an
- Retire Early?
- Pay for your kids’ college?
- All of the Above???
When you are thinking big picture, it’s important to make hard decisions today so you can have an easy life tomorrow. You can NOT be in the dark with where your money is going. Know how much your spouse makes and know how it’s spent. No private credit cards, full disclosure.
Side Note: Once you have kids it’s important to recognize that a woman’s salary can take a huge hit. Maternity leave, cutting back on hours to breastfeed or watch the kids instead of sending them to daycare can make a huge impact. These are all important things to keep in mind when arranging your financial plan with your spouse. If Mr. Miser would have said I make more money, so my allowance should be more, I would have went ballistic. (I went part-time for a short period of time so my financial contribution dropped considerably but I actually worked more hours every day between work, making milk and motherhood.