• Posts Tagged ‘relationship’

    How to Avoid Fighting About Your Finances

    by  • March 19, 2013 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Money is a topic that can put strain on even the healthiest of relationships. When finances are tight, stress, frustration and fighting are all common side effects. But while we all experience concerns over our bank balance from time to time, money doesn’t need to damage the special bond you share with your partner.

    With this in mind here are some top tips to help you avoid fights and tension when it comes to managing your finances.

    couple yelling at each other

    1.      Keep it in perspective

    When we’re worried and stressed about money, it can be easy to take your frustration and fears out on the people closest to you. Instead, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in perspective. Keep in mind the fact that in today’s tough economic times, there are plenty of couples in a similar financial situation to you – not to mention quite a few that are much worse off. Money isn’t everything, and while limited funds can be stressful, they aren’t worth losing a loved one over.

    2.      Identify the problems

    If you and your partner fight about money on a regular basis, try and identify a pattern behind the arguments. Do they usually take place in the same week as your rent payments? Are you more likely to quarrel at the end of the month when funds are limited? Once you have identified the common problems, you’ve got a better chance of fixing them.

    When you empathize with your partner about the things that are stressing them out, there’s also a better chance they’ll go out of their way to return the favour. For instance, if your partner’s stressed about cooking meals on a tight budget, make a point of helping out in the kitchen to help carry the work load.

    3.      Keep communication lines open

    In a healthy relationship nearly all fights can be avoided through clear communication. It’s important not only to express your feelings, but also to be receptive to the issues your partner raises.

    Always try to talk through your worries about money rather than bottling them up. This way you won’t end up angry and frustrated at your partner, which usually leads to aggression and hostility.

    Worried man talking on cellular phone

    4. Have a plan

    If money is a constant source of tension, then it might be time to review your budget. Sit down as a pair and consider ways to cut back on costs.

    If you feel like your partner spends too much money on unnecessary expenses like socialising or fashion, this is a calm environment to raise your opinions – rather than shouting at them in the heat of the moment.

    5.      Find love on a budget

    Money not only puts a strain on maintaining relationships, it also adds stress to the dating game itself. For people on a tight budget who are looking to find love, wining and dining on ‘traditional dates’ can prove costly. It is for this reason that free dating sites have proven such a popular way of meeting new people.

    Relationship websites have helped thousands of money-conscious singles to find their perfect match. Instead of heading to pricey nightclubs and bars to meet people, dating sites allow users to view and connect with other compatible local singles for free. To find out more about your compatible matches, visit www.eharmony.ca today.

    images: hang_in_there, photoloni

    Top Eight Ways to Deal with Spousal Debt

    by  • March 6, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Dealing with financial matters is very important for any married couple. It may make or break a relationship as the future of the family is at stake. It is the job of every couple to make sure that they are financially secure. But in certain circumstances the expenditures may go over the set limit. There are times when your spouse may not be able to control his/her spending.

    In such cases you will go into debt and might have to take a loan or other financial assistance to pay off the debt. It is crucial that you do not let such a situation arise in the first place. But if you are in trouble then there is no point in hiding. It is time you confronted the problem and looked at measures to control it. Here are some valuable tips to help you with spousal debt.

    1.     Sit Down and Talk

    Before you begin, do check out Consolidated Credit company site for best advices on managing debt. At www.consolidatedcredit.org - a debt management site – you can get the information and advice you need to help manage your debt easily and smoothly. Start by acknowledging the problem at hand. Sit down with your spouse, grab a pen and paper and analyze the bills. See where he/she is going wrong, try to talk sense and explain the reasons for amassing huge debts. Although your spouse might have gotten into the problem by themselves, it is your job to help them. Remember that you work together, so adhere to the principles of honesty and openness when you discuss financial matters.

    2.     Consider Counseling

    There is no shame in going to a counselor for help. In this situation you can hire the services of a debt counselor. Maybe your spouse will be more open to a person who excels at judging people’s opinion. The counselor can help overcome psychological fears related to debt management. It’s never too late to change your ways and you could start right now. Some people don’t see debt as a serious problem and remain in denial.

    3.     Be Positive in your approach

    Fighting or arguing won’t bring back the money your spouse lost. It will only make matters worse, so be considerate and support your partner. It’s their time of need so you need to stay positive. Keep reminding them that this problem is only temporary and he/she doesn’t need to overburden themselves

    4.     Create a Financial Plan

    A good financial plan goes a long way to helping you reach your financial goals. A lot of workshops are also held regularly to help people manage their finances, consider attending these as well. Be reasonable and give your spouse an opportunity to redeem themselves  Flexibility is important when making financial decisions, so consider their needs as well.

    5.     Take Control

    If your spouse is deep into debt and is unwilling to change his/her ways, then consider taking matters into your own hand. Take financial responsibility and make a monthly spending budget for your spouse which they must not exceed. It may be an uncomfortable arrangement, but when the going gets tough you have to take such measures. This could provide a short term solution till she gets back on their feet.

    6.     Educate your Spouse

    Assuming the fact that your spouse is not a financial expert, get them some financial education. It is important that every individual in today’s modern society has financial knowledge. You should consider buying books and taking classes for better financial management.

    7.     Separate Finances

    If you think that your spouse’s debts have put extra burden on you then consider separating finances. Remove your name from credit accounts and put major assets in your name alone. Put in place a debt reduction plan to help curb your debts.

    8.     Consider Couple’s Therapy

    Sometimes the problem is more an emotional issue than a financial one. Consider taking your spouse to couple’s therapy to discuss the issues she has been having. Maybe professional assistance is the answer to your problem.

    Conclusion

    Spousal debt is no laughing matter. It can adversely affect the relationship between husband and wife if not managed properly. Follow these tips and you should be able to solve these issues in no time at all.

    Author’s Bio

    This article is composed by Elaine McPartland who is associated with “Consolidated Credit” as their community writer. She has an expertise in writing articles related to debt consolidation and how to pay off debts easily and smoothly. You can add her at her google+ profile. 

    How Much is That Long-Distance Relationship Going to Cost You?

    by  • October 18, 2012 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    The following is a guest post from Pauline Paquin, a long time reader who has recently started to blog over at Reach Financial Independence. Born and raised in Paris, France, Pauline blogs about how she has been traveling the world for the past 10 years, while trying to build wealth and achieve financial independence, and how you can follow your dreams and reach your goals too. You can follow Pauline on Twitter @RFIndependence.

    airplane over ocean

    Bye bye, love.

    So here you are, at the airport, crying. He (or she, but in this case, “she” is me, so “he” is a “he”) hugs you goodbye, and you promise that the long-distance relationship will not affect you as a couple. You are stronger than this, after all — nothing can take you apart.

    Spoiler alert: long-distance relationships (LDRs) suck. Once you get your emotionally sobbing self back home and start frantically counting the days until you see each other again, you should also start counting your money. Yep, it is not only going to be hard, it is going to cost you, too.

    The obvious costs of maintaining a long-distance relationship

    Phone

    Whether He moved across the country to go to college or He was that tanned and muscular bartender you met on your last exotic holiday, your phone bill is going to go through the roof. You can look into unlimited phone plans: Some include calls overseas, but most of the time the list of countries is limited. Home phones offer the same kind of service, with unlimited calls to a bigger number of countries, but mainly to other home phones, so that is assuming He has one.

    If you both have a computer and a decent internet connection, which is not a given in many countries, even some where you would assume it is, like Italy for example, you can get a Skype account and call each other for free for hours.

    And download WhatsApp on your smartphone to chat as you please with your loved one.

    Transport

    If you are staying together, it means that you have plans to see each other again. Good. Hopefully, you knew He was leaving a couple of months ago, so you have already stacked on tickets back and forth for the both of you. Not at the same time, obviously. You have thought about everything and synced your calendars to make sure you don’t forget whose turn it is to come over (and to dress nice for the occasion, but we will come to that later).

    Now is the time to get a frequent flyer account, to apply for a credit card that earns you miles as rewards, to ask your family for airline coupons as birthday and Christmas gifts (unless He is not a welcome addition to the family). The sooner you book your tickets, the better, wherever the destination. Six to eight weeks in advance is usually the best time. Didn’t think about it until after He left? Check out last minute offers, and check them both ways, it may be cheaper for one of you to go than the other one.

    As you will be spending a lot of time commuting back and forth, re-organize your life around your traveling schedule. Make good use of the time spent in transit to catch up on your reading, study, or write. As an added bonus, you will have plenty to talk about when you get there.

    Costs you may not have thought about

    Grooming

    You will be in a state of permanent anguish. What is going on over there? Who is He with? There is no way you can reunite wearing your favorite sweat pants or less than perfect hair and body. So yes, while normal couples get into a comfy routine, put on 5 pounds of “love handles” and don’t worry too much about always looking their best, you will be spending your time apart in salons and the gym, eager to see again that ”wow” in His eyes like when He first saw you.

    Crazy splurges on outings and dressing up

    You will see each other less and will probably want to mark the occasion. While in a LDR, you won’t settle for a night of movies on the couch. You will want to eat somewhere special ($$ka-ching$$), maybe have a drink before ($$ka-ching$$), drive around to see His new city ($ka-ching$), and lots of other very expensive activities that cohabiting couples haven’t enjoyed in a while. Of course, you will buy a new dress for the occasion, and maybe some heels too? ($$ka-chiiiiing$$)

    Nights out with friends

    While He was the only one you had eyes for, you probably stopped seeing many friends. Now that He is away, it is time to call the girls and organize a fun night, both to reconnect and forget how lonely you are without Him. Plus tax, plus tips.

    Health costs

    Costs to your health are harder to estimate, but come on, do you really think you can stay up until 4am, which is when He wakes up and wants to talk for an hour? Can anyone go on like that for weeks, ingesting quantities of caffeine the next morning and walking around like a madly in love zombie?

    The lack of sleep can affect your mood, your relations with other people (especially your coworkers), and can cost you a job promotion or worse…your job.

    Maybe it will be time to reassess your LDR and, if it is really worth it, take the plunge and join Him over there?

    Have you ever been in a LDR? Has it worked out for you? For your budget?

    image: The-Lane-Team

    Save Money by Being Married/Antisocial

    by  • May 15, 2012 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    Tastes Good Regardless of Location Consumed

    Tastes Good Regardless of Location Consumed

    My husband, Brad, is in the midst of his last school-related work before his summer (of more working) begins. He’ll be done on Friday, and the other day we had the following interaction:

    Abby: Hey, since you’ll be done on Friday, do you want to go out for drinks to celebrate?

    Brad: Maybe.

    Abby: What if we just go to [NAME OF NEIGHBORHOOD BAR] and get some dessert and a beer?

    Brad: I guess.

    Abby: . . . or do you just want to sit in the apartment and drink the beer we have in the fridge and eat a sleeve of Thin Mints?

    Brad: Yeah, that sounds perfect, actually.

    Sometimes, I read personal finance articles and the comments associated with them, and wonder how these people, most of whom are my age, spend so much money on going out. What are you doing? I think. Why can’t you just drink a beer at home? And then I realize – not everyone has the advantage of living with one of the few people they can stand for long periods of time. Don’t get me wrong – I like to dress up in something other than $6 men’s sweatpants from Target, and enjoy a nice gin cocktail with people to whom I am not married every once in awhile. But most of the time, my husband and I are each other’s company, and we like it that way. The added benefit, which we often don’t consider, is how much money it saves us. Consider some of our favorite activities:

    • Ordering takeout from the exceptionally delicious pasta place near our apartment and consuming it in our apartment.
    • Sitting with (nice – we do spend a little on our home-bound alcohol) beers in our apartment, while I watch something on Netflix and Brad half-watches, but mostly catches up on college sports blogs.
    • Ordering takeout from the great Taiwanese restaurant nearby and eating it in our apartment (sensing a trend?).


    Besides our penchant for carb-heavy takeout for which we don’t have to change out of sweatpants, we spend a lot of time hanging out with each other in the apartment (particularly in the colder months up here, which is almost all year long). And the natural consequence of this is that we don’t go out as much as we would if were single. We don’t feel compelled to head to a local bar that often, because the beer we would get there is the same beer we can consume in the comfort of our home, as is the company.

    As I said, this doesn’t mean I never get out. There are work happy hours, friends to meet with over a glass of wine, and potlucks that I attend. But after reading that some people my age go out on a near-daily basis, I can see how my generation can become mired in credit card debt after an accumulated however-many drinks consumed. It gets pricey, and we’re lucky to be cutting our expenses through our anti-social/homebody/married tendencies.

    How do you manage your social expenses?

    image: Jeramey Jannene

    Being the Breadwinner

    by  • April 17, 2012 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Bacon

    Bringing Home the Bacon

    Image: cookbookman17

    My relationship is not unlike many in my age-group. This is the time for figuring out your career, for going to graduate school, for living cheaply and on different sums of money depending on where you are. My husband and I try to base our relationship on a degree of equality – his graduate school is no more important than my career, for instance, and vice-versa. In a while, I’ll be doing a part-time graduate program for a masters, and for a summer (or two), he’ll be working at various positions that supplement the household income.

    We have varying levels of income – I work a full-time job, with benefits, and he’s currently in a program that alternately pays him to do research, and requires that we take out loans for his tuition. We’re in a luckier position than many, given our living situation, but we still have expenses and savings goals. And the fact that I work, and he is dependent on tuition loans, means that for the time-being, I’m the breadwinner.

    To be perfectly honest, I love being the wage-earner in the house. I love having disposable income, and feeling in-control of finances, and like a useful, contributing member of society (this is an entirely fabricated feeling, I know, and graduate students are also useful, contributing members of society, but allow me my irrational feelings). It’s not a power issue – I don’t feel that I’m in control of my husband, or that I get “power” over his finances or need to give him an allowance. Our finances are, for the most part, shared (another post, to come), and what isn’t shared is disposable on each of our parts. What I have leftover I can use for what I like, and he can likewise use his money (earned from tutoring and other related stipends) as he sees fit.

    And yet I know this feeling of “control” comes from a place of inequality. I’ve done a great deal of reading on feminist history, and have particularly strong feelings about women and money, and how we can take control (financial and otherwise) of our lives. I’m of the (unpopular, at times) opinion that it’s essential for women to have their own livelihoods and income sources, particularly in marriage and where dependents are concerned, because you never know what’s going to happen (divorce, death, layoffs, financial crisis, etc.). I like making money, and being able to put lots of it towards our savings. At the moment, I’m the one contributing to our savings accounts for a future home, for vacations and car expenses, etc. And this, perhaps, is where the equity comes in. My long-term career goals are lofty, but I work in an industry where the upper pay-ranges are not incredibly high. My husband, on the other hand, will likely ultimately earn more than I will at the height of his career, based on his industry. In a way, I’m comforted by the fact that when we buy a house, it will be with mostly money I’ve saved (even though, for all legal intents and purposes, all of the money going into our household is “our” money), because I know that there will likely come a time when many of our expenses will be covered by my husband. As warped a feeling as it is, I’m glad I have this decade to do my “part,” because I know he’ll be doing his one day (not that he isn’t now, in a different way – clearly there’s no way for me to write about this without putting my foot in my mouth).

    Is this a totally sensible feeling? Not really. But we’re part of a generation navigating changing terrain, with different careers and incomes and financial support systems.

    How have you navigated the “breadwinner” issue in your relationship?

    Interview at Credit Card Assist, Personal Finance Tag Responses, and Favorite Tweets of the Week

    by  • March 13, 2012 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    Today we’re featured in the Credit Card Assist “Best of the Bloggers” interview series. Bill has written quite possibly the best introduction to who we are that I’ve seen.  He’s been very patient with me over the past few months as I kept pushing back when I was able to get back to him, but I finally did it. Thanks to Bill and Credit Card Assist for giving us the opportunity. Go on and give it a read!

    Last week was Women’s Money Week, and if you read this blog for relationship banter then you’d love this list of blogs that participated in last Tuesday’s topic of Relationships and Money.

    Also, thanks to the following bloggers who answered the call of Personal Finance Tag (and booo to those who didn’t): Shopping Detox, Graduated Learning: Life After College, Don’t Quit Your Day Job, and Couple Money

    And to end this post, here’s some of my favorite tweets of the week:

    Running Our Way To Savings

    by  • March 9, 2012 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments


    Money Goal illustration

    Catch that bag with the dollar sign on it!

    image: HikingArtist.com

    My wife and I have recently started going for regular runs. We aren’t training for anything (yet), but we enjoy the fresh air and the activity. We relish the chance to switch up the routine in the evenings and come back home with a runner’s high. And, of course, we both like the idea of burning calories and promoting our long-term health in a way that only running can.

    But ultimately we are also running as a way to improve our savings and our finances.

    That’s right – running has been shown to correlate with higher degrees of effective money management, especially among hard-core participants of the sport. This is likely a result of qualities that are instilled in runners and then translate favorably into personal finance. Here are a few of the main ones:

    • Delayed gratification. People who are able to show restraint and delay their gratification have been shown to be better money-savers in the long term. And no activity teaches delayed gratification quite like running does. Anyone who has ever gasped their way through a mid-winter 45 minute run probably understands that few of the joys of running are realized until after the jaunt is complete.
    • Lower stress. Regular exercise contributes to lower stress levels, which in turn breed happier individuals. Moreover, happy people have been proven to make more prudent financial decisions. By running, then, my wife and I can boost both our mental health and our savings account at the same time.
    • Plans and promises. Few people can become regular runners without planning ahead, making commitments, and holding long-term goals. They may not want to head outside and embark on a run after a long day at work, but they realize that doing so is in their best long-term interests. Consequently, runners make a promise to themselves that they will remain committed in their training – a promise similar to the one couples make when they are looking to save for retirement.

    These are just a few of the main ways that running and saving go hand-in-hand. If you have the traits to be a dedicated runner, you likely also have what it takes to make smart financial decisions.

    And if you don’t have those traits, there’s no better way to start nurturing them than by lacing up your shoes and heading out for a run.

    To Love, Honor and Financially Obliterate

    by  • July 15, 2010 • Tagged: , , , , ,  • Comments

    underwaterhouse.png

    (photo: lionheartphotography)

    “A lot of people wonder how you know you’re in love. Just ask yourself this one question: ‘Would I mind being financially destroyed by this person?’”

    I first came across that quote hanging on my friend John’s fridge, soon after he started dating fellow friend Fahmi. Since Fahmi was on the verge of trading in her lucrative IT consulting job to head back to grad school, it wasn’t an idle question.

    Happily, Fahmi got her degree, John and Fahmi got married, and they’re now cheerfully bonded and financially stable.

    But for an illustrative example of just how literally that quote should be taken, there’s the tale of Dawn vs. The Leech.

    Dawn (not her real name) has been one of my best friends for a decade. About five years ago, comfortably before the housing boom’s peak, she and her live-in boyfriend decided to buy a house together. It was a pretty good deal: a recently foreclosed, two-bedroom place in a Western city for a tad over $100,000. Dawn had a stable job and could comfortably manage the monthly mortgage payment; her boyfriend, aka The Leech, was a contractor who could handle the house’s badly needed renovations. They bought the house on an ARM, planning to finish the upgrades and refinance the house before it reset.

    You see where this is going.

    Over the next few years, Dawn and The Leech got married and worked on the house, but the renovations never quite got done. Time management is not one of Leech’s strong suits. To finance the renovations, they tapped a home-equity credit line, which added a second mortgage to the house’s debt load.

    Then the economy tanked. The Leech wasn’t getting contract work the way he used to. At the same time, the ARM on the house reset, and the interest rate zoomed past 11%. Once-affordable payments were suddenly a big struggle. Like millions of other Americans, my friends were being bankrupted by their house. Somewhere in here a third home-equity credit line snuck into the mix.

    It’s easy to point fingers (“An ARM — what were they thinking!?”; “Never buy a house unless you have enough money saved to make the payments for uppitygazillion years without an income”; etc etc.), but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

    Here’s where the situation gets really sticky. Dawn came up with a clever solution to the ugly financial math: move. She’d worked in NYC before moving out West, and had a job offer that would pay about twice what her local job did. With that extra cash, she could afford to keep up the house payments and also get a rental in NYC. So, after extensive discussions with Leech, she moved back East. The plan was that he would stick around for a few months, finish the house and rent it out, then join her in New York.

    It was a pretty cool plan. One that got blown to smithereens a month later when Leech moved his new girlfriend into the house. (Here’s the part I like best: He didn’t want to get divorced. He was pretty happy to stay married to Dawn, keep her on the mortgage … and live with the new chick. Logical thinking is *also* not one of Leech’s strong suits.)

    Now, all of this still could have worked out if Leech had the income to support the house he wanted to stay put in. But he doesn’t.

    Dawn — who was far nicer to him than I would have been — took a fair stab at weaning him off her financial support. They drew up an agreement under which she would keep paying into the mortgages for most of a year, while he got his act together. Which she did.

    A year later, shock of shocks, Leech was still broke. He promptly fell behind on the mortgages, obliterating his already-shaky credit rating and Dawn’s excellent one.

    So Dawn is now caught in an epically nasty situation: She’s getting divorced but is still on the mortgages for an underwater house she isn’t living in and can’t sell without the consent of the house’s co-owner, Leech. The full face value of the loans on the house sits at around $200,000. The house’s market value is maybe 75% of that.

    This has to be a pretty common situation these days, but all the researching Dawn and various lawyers have done turns up basically no good way of dealing with it.

    No lender will refinance the house notes into Leech’s name alone; it’s underwater and his credit is shot to %@$!. The best option is to sell the house, but a) that requires Leech’s consent, and b) it’s probably going to be a short sale, which won’t fetch enough to clear all the notes. The second and third lienholders have little incentive to agree to that — and even if they do, they could then still pursue a deficency judgment for the shortfall.

    So for now, Dawn is stuck taking a credit hit every month that Leech fails to make payments, and remains on the hook for a life-destroyinging giant sum of money. She’s been waiting for more than a year for one of the three lenders to finally get fed up and foreclose, but every time that seems imminent, Leech chucks the lender a small payment and manages to stave it off a bit longer.

    I know the advice, before you co-sign a whopping loan with anyone, is always to be really, really sure you know what you’re getting into. But how can you? Very few people get married expecting to get divorced, and yet, almost half of us do. Neuroscientists keep pointing out that we’re hardwired to be overly optimistic, make irrational choices, and stay in bad relationships.

    So on top of all the many, many ways we now know that buying a house can turn into a debacle, add this one: That mortgage can be more like a marriage. You might end up bound to the ball and chain till death — or something else equally unpleasant — do you part.

    Money and power

    by  • June 29, 2010 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    powertools.jpg

    photo: angusf

    Personal finance blogger Eilene Zimmerman had a post recently that really intrigued me: How Money Can Hurt Your Marriage.

    Eilene hits right on the head a thing that has always played, subconsciously, into my own relationship dynamics: the way finances become a power tool.

    Eilene’s then-partner significantly out-earned her. "One of the biggest problems in our marriage was his demanding job (that paid well) and that the power in our relationship was – at least from my vantage point – all economic," she writes. "I felt like I had no right to ask for anything I wanted – not material things, but more like time away from the kids, time to work, time to go out with friends, essentially time – because he was working so hard. And although money is empowering in many, many ways, it made me feel powerless, because I didn’t have much of my own. My income was tiny compared to The Husband’s, so how could I declare I would be taking a nap on Saturday afternoon?"

    Ding ding. That’s a thought process I suspect is common to a lot of women. Maybe it’s prevalent with anyone, of either gender, in an income-imbalanced relationship, but  my impression is that women are more susceptible to it. Including me — on both sides of the equation.

    Money matters because the most important thing it buys is flexibility. Greater financial resources means greater control over where you live, what you do, how you allocate your time, and a vast swathe of other variables that shape our lives.

    But it’s easy to let money become something else: a way of keeping score. Beyond the ubiquitous cultural programming that tells us money works meritocratically, with more flowing to those who work harder/better/smarter/longer than others, it’s just easy. It’s why people are drawn to sports. The results are black-and-white, simple to compare, to rank.

    And the kicker is that it’s very easy to say "money doesn’t work like that; incomes aren’t neatly correlated to effort," but like most things in life, this is a gray area. Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t.

    In college I made $7 an hour working the popcorn machine at a local movie theatre; now I make much more money doing a job I think is way easier and more fun. I don’t work "harder" now than your typical retail worker. And, of course, I make a tiny sliver of what your average Wall Street financial type pulls down; you can guess how much "harder" I think their job actually is. (I’m not talking about skills and qualifications; I’m simply talking about the strain and labor involved in getting through a typical day of work.)

    But then, there’s cases where income does reflect effort. One of my friends works about 70 hours a week, on two jobs; her less-employable (and, honestly, lazier) partner works half as many hours.

    This is where the gray sneaks in. There’s a ton of factors — some controllable, many not — that affect income. And when you have two people in a relationship with financially intertwined lives, the only way to avoid tension is for both to be in synch about how money, especially when it’s imbalanced, should affect everything else. Time, chores, goals, priorities, everything.

    David and I had our own wrangles with this last year. In the middle of an epically bad market, he quit the job he’d held for almost a decade. With nothing new lined up.

    While I understood and agreed with his reasons, I was still not what you would call 100% cool and supportive about the move. ("Shrill" and "cranky" would probably be better adjectives to describe some of my comments about it.)  Yes, we could scrape by with just my income, but did I really want to? I started expecting David to do a hell of a lot around the house, because part of me wanted him to "prove" he was doing as much work as I was. I was bringing in a paycheck, my little brain-voice said; what tangible thing was he doing? I was definitely using money to keep score, even as the rational part of my mind knew that wasn’t really fair.

    (Caveat: This equation becomes a very different thing when you add in kids, illness, dependent relatives, or other complications beyond a relationship of two fully functioning, equally competent adults — which is, of course, the situation most married couples face at some point in their lives. That’s a whole other column.)

    Then David got a new job, with a salary slightly smaller than his old one. That left our incomes even more out-of-whack than they’d been before.

    But that gap doesn’t faze me at all. We both work full-time, office-type jobs; mine just happens to be in a field that pays better than his does. He loves his new job and it’s a great fit for him. Since my income is higher, I cover more of our expenses, but it seems to me that it would be ridiculous to expect him to do more than I do around the house to "pay off" the salary differential.

    So … sometimes I keep score with money, and sometimes I don’t. And though there are times when it’s clearly, actively destructive — most times, I’d guess — it also feels like a thing humans will inevitably lapse into doing.

    How do you sort it out?

    The Price of Compromise

    by  • May 12, 2010 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    brownstones.jpg

    photo: somebox

    My husband David and I recently tackled the Big Scary Most-Expensive Thing You’ll Ever Buy investment: buying an apartment. In New York City. It was one of those “well, they say if it doesn’t kill us it’ll make us stronger …” experiences.

    The most financially fraught moments came at the end, at the closing table, where we forked over checks for pretty much every dollar we could lay our hands on legally. (We didn’t end up knocking over any liquor stores, but we briefly considered it when we saw the five-figure bill for property transfer taxes.)

    But emotionally, the big money-related hits came early on, when we had to decide how much we could afford to pay and what trade-offs we’d be willing to make.

    A thing we rarely agreed on. Even the best-matched couples aren’t going to have identical preferences and priorities.

    On the big-picture stuff, David and I were fairly in-sync. We had similar ideas about what kind of total monthly payment we’d be willing to shoulder, and we were both dead-set on only considering a 30-year fixed mortgage — no ARMs or interest-only exotic stuff for us, thanks.

    But within the rough framework of “we can afford X,” we had the usual stack of disagreements about what we should use that money to buy. The #1 rule of NYC real estate is “you will never get everything on your wish list unless you double your price range.” What stuff couldn’t we do without?

    I wanted a short commute. David wanted a second bathroom. I wanted two bedrooms.  David wanted a nice-looking block.

    I didn’t care about the block or the bathrooms; he thought a one-bedroom would be fine and wouldn’t mind an extra half hour on the subway. Everything on the list came with a price tag. So how could we pick? Whose wishes got to win out?

    I’d like to claim we talked it out like sensible adults, calmly bartering swaps from our own personal want lists. “OK, this place is a little further from the subway than I would like, but it has that second bathroom you want, so let’s go for it  …”

    There was some of that. We picked a building fairly quickly — which, I’ll admit, catered more to my preferences than his. Commute: great! Neighborhood aesthetics, not so great.

    But the building is fairly large, with more than 100 apartments and dozens of different floor plans available. Therein commenced the “discussion” about compromises.

    Which eventually escalated to yelling.

    We only had one really epic fight, but it was a full-decibel affair that led to several hours of us speaking to each other only via the cats: “Kea, go tell the human being on the other side of the room that if he wants dinner, I’m leaving it on the counter.”

    Finally, a day later, when we decided to again acknowledge each others’ existence, we hammered out a framework for decisions. The only way we (ok, I) could see to make either-or choices was to bow to the wishes of the partner who cared more about the issue.

    I would have preferred a walk-in closet to a second bathroom. But David felt really strongly about that one, so I said OK to his extra room and goodbye to my shoe-and-handbag haven. On the other hand, I desperately wanted the apartment with a small terrace — the proximate cause of our Waterloo, since David hates heights. After some extensive pleading on my part, he finally agreed to it.

    Buying a house (ok, in our case, “tiny living cube”) isn’t the only pricey investment that brings clashing wants to the fore. Cars, schools for the kids, even expensive appliances or furniture seem likely catalysts for showdowns. I’m curious how other couples have negotiated the peace treaties.

    Does Recession Equal Romance?

    by  • January 22, 2009 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Usually when I receive press releases I just ignore them; deleting them would be too much work. But, when I saw the title New Survey Finds Couples Site Recession for Boost in Romance, I had to bite. While I’m not going to regurgitate the whole thing here, I’ll grab some highlights and put our commentary in as well.

    According to AreYouRomantic.com’s Romance in a Recession poll:

    • 69 percent of people were satisfied with their relationship over the past year despite economic concerns
    • One out of three people feel that financial constraints have brought them and their partner closer together

    I’d have to agree with this. Our finances, while far from perfect, are definitely something that we’ve had to come together to work through. By sticking together, we’ve put ourselves in much better financial position than we were in 3 years ago, especially during these tough economic times.

    • Nearly 20 percent of people feel that their sex lives have improved as a result of the economy
    • Over half of all couples are spending more quality time together due to financial constraints
    • 43 percent agree that they are spending more intimate time together

    Hey, sex is free, right? What better thing can you do to kill 2 minute’s an hour’s worth of time that’s free?

    • 60 percent of people agree that financial limitations have not led to increased conflict
    • 34 percent of respondents claim that over the past year, they haven’t argued with their partner about finances

    We’re no strangers to arguing about money. In fact, I think that a little arguing about money is a good thing, as it forces everyone to be brutally honest. Most of the time we keep things pretty civil.

    What about you? Has the current economic climate affected your relationships in any way? Let us know!

    You can see the full press release here, and the official blog post here. Please be aware that AreYouRomantic is sponsored by a travel company, so feel free to take everything with a grain of salt.

    Relationships and Finances: Please Give A Reader Advice!

    by  • October 31, 2008 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    If there’s something I love about you, our dear readers, it is that you always give solid advice (even if we don’t agree with it). I once again ask for your wise words to help out another reader. He writes:

    Before we got married, I asked my wife how much debt she had. She was very vague, but after some push and pull I got a rough number of “about $15K,” not counting her student loans and car loan. That was quite a bit compared to the nearly zero debt I aim to maintain. But I figured that probably wasn’t too extreme since the two of us make over $50K/year in salary each.

    Well fast forward to after the wedding and move to a new city for both of us. It took her a while to find a job in the new city, but she did find an entry level position just to have SOMETHING. A few months working there and she finally found a job in her chosen field making about the same as what she made before we moved.

    During this time, she kept asking me for money to help pay her bills. I lovingly helped her because I see the marriage as a joint venture. What affects her affects me. She’s been working at this higher paying job now for about 5 months and she’s still asking me for money.

    After the attempted calm and rational conversation escalated to a LOT of pushing and pulling, and then to a full on screaming from her direction, I FINALLY discovered the truth. Counting her student loan and car loan and ALL of her credit cards, she has almost $100K of debt! Her MINIMUM monthly payments on her credit cards alone are more than $1,000/month. All 5 of her credit cards are maxed out. Her paychecks go toward minimum payments and then whatever she has left over go toward frivolous purchases like knick-knacks, new shoes, clothes, and purses.

    She doesn’t see anything wrong with what she’s doing not only to herself but to me and US! I’ve tried taking her credit cards away from her and sitting down with her to talk budget but she absolutely refuses. Now we are losing money left and right. We can still pay the bills, but BARELY. I’ve had to dip into my savings and I also had to use all of the inheritance I got from my late mother just to stay afloat. Her only reason for not talking with me is “my parents fought about money and that’s why they divorced.” I would think NOT talking about money is worse than arguing about it.

    I’ve been making all the payments on the mortgage and utilities. She hasn’t contributed toward them at all because she can’t afford to. If I had known the extent of her debt, I never would have bought this house. I’ve been looking at debt consolidation and even bankruptcy and other means of trying to lower her monthly payments but everything I’ve seen says we have to fall behind in those payments and not be able to even make the minimum payments before any of that will even apply to us.

    Do you have any advice for me? I’ve tried getting her to talk to me or even a financial planner but the financial planner seminar that is coming to town that she did agree to go to isn’t for another 6 months. We will be flat broke by then.

    Two Styles, One System: Communication and Money

    by  • September 24, 2008 • Tagged: , , , , , ,  • Comments

    Laura is a twenty-something woman out of school and happily married. Eliminating credit card debt has energized her to knock out her car loan and student loans. She blogs at Green Panda Treehouse about reducing debt, building savings, and working with her husband on finances, as well as her successes and failures.

    Many people worry about discussing finances when they have different views. Avoiding financial talks can lead to disaster in relationships. It can build resentment and escalate into fights that tear down and could lead to divorce. Money isn’t the root of the problem, it’s lack of communication.

    If you share openly and honestly your thoughts and feelings with your fiancé or spouse, you are missing out on a great opportunity. Relationships are mutually defined and both need to share to make it work.

    Here are a few examples of how my husband and I handle money in our relationship. Is it perfect? No. Does it work? Yes, because we’re willingly to talk about our common thoughts and our differences.

    Budget

    We keep a Google Spreadsheet to display and organize our monthly bills. This allows us to see what our joint bills are and gives a snapshot view of our individual accounts. I can see how much he puts in his 401(k) and he can see my Roth IRA deposits.

    He’s great at setting up the spreadsheets and I love playing around with them.

    Goals

    Some of my personal goals are to pay off my car loan and my student loans. We also set aside money in our budget for saving. We’re working together: our ‘extra’ money goes to joint savings and to paying down the car loan.

    Investing

    My husband puts aside money for retirement, but is only semi-interested in following his accounts. When he changed jobs and was rolling over his old 401(k) to an IRA, he asked me to look at investments to put them into.

    I get a kick out of learning new things about index funds, stocks, ETFs, etc. While I explained why and how I came up with my suggestions, he just agreed and made the changes. He’s more conservative with his money and his investments are a reflection of that. I tend to invest more in international funds than him, but the volatility is within what I can handle.

    Credit Cards

    I have two credit cards (I’m closing one) while my husband has no credit cards. After learning the hard way about high credit card interest rates, I’ve paid my debt. I generally pay it off each month.

    I use credit cards mainly for convenience and rewards. I normally keep it at home with me. If we go on trips, I use my credit card. He is very adverse to debt and has not found a credit card that ‘he likes yet’. He generally saves until he can buy it, like his car.

    Paperwork

    I’m the paperwork queen. It basically falls to me to organize bill payments and documentation requests. Due to our basic system, it doesn’t take up to much time (5-10 minutes). If there are any issues we’ll discuss in the evening.

    I show him where I keep the files, in case something happens and he needs quick access.

    Conclusion

    It’s an imperfect system to be sure, but we make it work. The best advice we received? Talk it out and figure out what’s right for you two.

    Talking it out can help you to understand your partner so much better and help you to build a stronger foundation on future communication, not just with money. Remember also that you’ll discuss these issues as your circumstances change. It’s not set in stone.

    Keeping each other in the loop is essential to a successful marriage. Two different viewpoints can lead to a stronger system.

    How different are the two of you? What do you two agree and disagree on?

    Going Out to Eat: How Much Should We Spend?

    by  • September 22, 2008 • Tagged: , , , ,  • Comments

    Hannah blogs about money and marriage at Monogamoney.com. Topics include saving, budgeting, investing, travel, and The Dark Knight.

    Jon and I recently let a relative stay in our apartment for a week, while we were away on vacation. As a thank-you gift, she gave us a $150 gift certificate to a nice restaurant. And this presents us with a problem.

    Jon and I have very different styles when we eat out. He’d rather go out less often, and spend more each time. He thinks that when we go to a nice restaurant, we shouldn’t scrimp. We should each get an appetizer if we want one, we should get a bottle of wine, we should get dessert, because there’s no point doing it if you don’t have the full experience. I’d rather spend less, and go more often. I get more enjoyment going twice and getting only an entree each time, as opposed to going once and getting the works.

    A few months ago, this perpetual disagreement led to the biggest fight we’ve had since we got married. We had a $400 gift certificate to a nice restaurant, which we received for our wedding. So we decided to invite two of our friends out for dinner. I wanted to strategize beforehand, so we could make sure we kept our tab under $400, hopefully even having enough to pay for the tip. Jon felt like I was spoiling the fun. He won; the bill came to $700. (In defense of my husband, he eats out like this only once or twice a year. And it was his birthday.)

    The next day, after a little yelling and maybe a tiny bit of door slamming, we decided that before we go out for a nice meal, we’ll label it a “Hannah” night or a “Jon” night. If it’s my night, I get to control our spending, and Jon can’t complain. If it’s a Jon night, he’ll order whatever he wants and I can’t complain.

    What do you think? Have you had any similar fights with your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse? How did you resolve them?

    How I Got Comfortable Sharing Money With My Husband

    by  • September 19, 2008 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    Hannah blogs about money and marriage at Monogamoney.com. Topics include saving, budgeting, investing, travel, and The Dark Knight.

    In honor of the nuptials of Him & Her, I thought I would harken back to, lo, those many months ago (October, 2007) when Jon and I tied the knot.

    After our wedding and honeymoon, we immediately hunkered down and cut back on spending, so we could pay off our credit card bill. And we started discussing how we would max out our Individual Retirement Accounts for 2007, and contribute the full $4,000 each. That’s when Jon said, “If, at the end of the year, I still need an extra $2,000, you can give it to me.” Wait a minute, I thought. You want me to GIVE you $2,000? Just GIVE it to you? And you won’t even pay me back?

    You see, Jon’s parents have always completely shared their finances. My parents, by contrast, don’t even have a joint checking account. That’s partly because Jon’s father was always the primary breadwinner, so a joint account was necessary. My parents, by contrast, have always made roughly the same amount of money, so there was no need to combine everything into one account. But the funny thing is, I grew up on a commune. You’d think I’d be the one advocating that we share money.

    Of course, I knew I should give him the $2,000. I had made more progress putting money into my own IRA, thanks in part to a generous gift from my grandmother. And in the long run, it’s obviously better for me if we’ve saved as much as possible in BOTH of our retirement accounts. I just had a little trouble, the first month or so after the wedding, adjusting to this new mindset, in which “we” replaced “me” when it came to financial decisions. Unlike Him & Her, who have clearly been a financial team for a while, Jon and I didn’t start thinking about these issues until after our wedding. (That’s when I started our blog, Monogamoney.)

    A few weeks after our initial discussion about the IRAs, the thought finally occurred to me: “You’re either in it for the long term, or you’re not. And if you’re in it for the long term, give him the money.” And since I’m in it for the long term, I gave him the money. We use our joint account to pay rent, but everything else is paid for out of our individual accounts. And we no longer keep track of every dollar we spend.

    Do you share and your partner share all your finances? Why or why not?

    “Mine” vs. “Ours” — A Newleywed’s Case Study

    by  • September 17, 2008 • Tagged: , , ,  • Comments

    Thewriter lives in Chicago, just got married, and writes about money and writing over at The Writer’s Coin.

    For the most part, my new wife and myself have done pretty well when it comes to adjusting to the financial side of married life. We created a joint bank account and the first few months have worked really well — we’re living our lives and we’re putting away a good amount of money. There have been some hiccups along the way, we aren’t the Brady Bunch or anything (nevermind the kids part, that’s a whole other ballpark). We’ve had our fair share of disagreements over things like emergency funds and semantics about targeted savings accounts, but overall we’re good.

    This past month, something new came up that had us clashing again. It’s interesting that such minor things can cause such a lack of understanding between two people that love each other so much. The issue: I get paid twice a month but M gets paid every Friday, which means she’ll have four “extra” paychecks over the course of a year. When I got paid every two weeks, I had the same problem and I just treated it like found money — it went straight into my ING savings account.

    M, however, didn’t see it that way. She would rather have it accounted for throughout the year and taken into full consideration when we budget out how we spend money on a day-to-day basis. This way would give us a bump in the amount of money we have to spend every month. Which is understandable because if you don’t count that money, on paper it looks like she’s not “contributing” as much to “our” finances (marriage invites the liberal use of quotes and air quotes — get used to it) than she’s actually making. So she wanted our budgeting spreadsheet to reflect that money.

    I wasn’t thinking about that and stressed that this was a great way of saving even more money (me being greedy and cheap). Instead of bringing it into the budget (where it would likely get spent, I’ve learned), I wanted to shoot it straight into our joint ING account.

    Then things got defensive. I kind of understood her point, but I still wanted to “win” the argument, prove I was right and get some extra saving going into our coffers. It wasn’t “my” money being accounted for, so what did I care? She could tell and wasn’t going to give in easily. It was late and her last attempt to foil me was to say that she would “forget” to transfer new money over on months where there was an extra paycheck. I countered with this jewel: “I’ll remind you.”

    Now, it was late and we had just gone through our budget, so things were a little tense. So we left it at that and let it soak in for a few days. The next week was an extra paycheck week and I brought it up. We had cooled down a little — I wasn’t out to “win” and she wasn’t out to stop me from winning. We both realized that, in the end, it’s “our money” (there is that beautiful phrase single people dread to hear) and it doesn’t matter how we account for it as long as we end up deciding it together and being responsible about it.

    The lesson? Money makes us defensive and edgy because what used to be “mine” is no longer. Not just with money, with everything. Sharing isn’t easy, especially when it comes to such a contentious thing as money. But that’s the lesson learned here — that money, like everything else, is no longer “yours.” When you marry someone everything becomes “ours” and the sooner you realize that, the easier it’ll be for you to let this kind of this just roll right off your back.

    Roundup, Booking Our Honeymoon Edition

    by  • January 24, 2008 • Tagged: , ,  • Comments

    I find it a little odd that there are people who don’t believe that credit card rewards can actually be redeemed. The first time I’ve run into that thinking is through a few comments on this blog. Well, Her and I can tell you that, YES, credit card rewards are redeemable, and we’re using them to greatly reduce the cost of our honeymoon. Still haven’t paid a cent of interest on credit cards in a while, and don’t plan to in the future, either.

    Here’s what I thought were good readings in the pfblogosphere this week:

    Over at Get Rich Slowly, JD gives some good advice on whether you should do your own taxes or hire an accountant. We’re probably going to see an accountant this year.

    Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity explains the differences between life insurances: term, whole, universal and variable. Since we’ll be looking for a good plan this year, this is good information to consider.

    While I don’t agree with everything in this post in how to become and stay a millionaire by the Wastrel Show, it does give a very interesting aspect of wealth from a perspective that I haven’t been exposed to.

    Rocket Finances gives us a glimpse of how he does married finances. We do a his-hers-ours plan; we suggest you find the right solution for you.

    We’ve been following 2 Million’s review of Smart Couples Finish Rich. He has a great tip, “My wife and I would go to Starbucks and splurge on drinks or have some margaritas while we read it. Find what it takes to make this more enjoyable for your spouse.” I’m all for coupling an important, potientially drab activity such as talking about finances with something fun.

    Hey, did you know that Single Ma moved? Go check out her awesome new redesigned site, Fabulous Financials, right now!

    Ten Financial Considerations For Newlyweds

    by  • January 8, 2008 • Tagged: , , , ,  • Comments

    Somehow sometime during this long engagement of ours I was signed up to receive the “Groom’s News” in my email inbox a few times a week. Along with cheerfully telling my how many days until the upcoming wedding and trying to sell me often unneeded high end trinkets and vacations, it points to articles that may be useful to newlyweds. In today’s issue was this gem: Ten Financial Considerations For Newlyweds. Let’s discuss, shall we?

    1. From the beginning, save 15 – 20% of your income. By combining households, you should reduce your expenses a lot which should allow you to save. You should save to build your cash reserves, in your 401k plans and in a mutual fund.

    This is a great tip to start off with. We’re currently saving about 10% of our gross income, and after the wedding we’re likely to increase that. It will be a balancing act with paying off student loans, though.

    2. Rather than simply keeping two checkbooks like before you were married, pool your money into one checkbook and one savings account or money market.

    We’ve spoken about how the joint checking account is working for us. We also have an allowance system to give us a little more freedom in making “guilt-free” purchases.

    3. Change all of the beneficiaries on life insurance plans, retirement and other plans at work, and IRAs to your new spouse.

    A nice reminder. We don’t have life insurance, but we do have retirement accounts and bank accounts we’ll have to check.

    4. Decide how debts accumulated by each individual prior to the marriage (i.e. student loans) will be handled.

    Since we’ve been living together and have had our finances combined for a while now, we’ve been living the “everything is ours” way of things – even debt – for a while now.

    5. Work together on budgeting and tracking expenditures.

    We’ve made efforts to budget in the past – this year we’ve implemented a new system that closely resembles the 60% solution. We’ll detail that in a later post.

    6. Discuss your approaches to handling money — is one person a spender and one a saver? Create some ground rules on handling any differences.

    Haha, it’s more like “He’s a spender, she’s a spender.” I mean, uh, we love to save money.

    7. If both incomes are needed to pay expenses, be sure to have adequate life insurance.

    We’re definitely going to have to look at adequate life insurance after we get hitched.

    8. Be sure to let each other know where important documents are kept.

    More importantly, we need to get a safety deposit box to keep all that stuff. That’s been on our to-do list for the past 2 years.

    9. Consolidate your credit cards to avoid having double the number of credit cards needed.

    Not sure if I agree with this one. We believe that we both should have individual credit. We’ve even opened some duplicate credit cards in order to take advantage of rewards.

    10. Make a list of upcoming purchases together and prioritize them. You should decide jointly how to spend your money now.

    Of course, communication is key. Her probably wouldn’t like it if I just came home with a 52″ plasma screen TV, and I don’t quite know how I’d react if she brought home a couple pairs of Manolo Blahniks.

    This list actually wasn’t that bad. It will serve as a good reminder of things to-do after we’re married.