My Money, My Choices
Gail Vaz-Oxlade is a personal finance writer, television host and radio broadcaster. Every Wednesday, she arms Metro readers with tips to keep spending in check.
Are you a financial match with your mate?
Compatibility counts: You must agree on money goals.
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Opposites attract. Birds of a feather flock together. Are you and your mate like two peas in a pod or as different as chalk and cheese?
We can love a body without ever understanding what makes that body tick. Even couples who have been together for eons sometimes scratch their heads at some of the things their mates do. That’s because we are evolving creatures constantly responding to the stimuli around us, constantly growing, constantly changing.
Are you a financial match with your mate? Since you’re getting married — planning to spend a long, Long, LONG time together — it’s important that you both understand how you think and feel about money. It’s just as important that you figure out if you’re a money match or a money mismatch.
Not feeling the same about money doesn’t mean an automatic no-go. People who are less compatible do face more challenges. But those who subvert their own money personality to match their mate’s are just asking for trouble. It can’t last. And when your mate finds out you’ve been pretending, it’s going to be a tough pill to swallow.
Coming up with a plan for how you’ll manage your money means negotiating a common ground. Start by being upfront about who you are, how you feel about money, what’s important to you and what isn’t. Listen and accept the other person’s open and frank discussions about what makes him or her tick.
Once you’ve got it all on the table, focus on working together to come up with a plan that keeps you both happy.
Money means different things to different people. When two people bring emotional baggage to a relationship — particularly the emotional baggage that surrounds money and that they never talk about — the relationship can turn into a power struggle and life can feel more like strife.
One of the easiest ways to start the conversation about money is by talking about what you’re most comfortable with and what you feel is most risky. Since many money issues have a comfort/risk component, it’s easy to move from a general discussion to a more specific money talk.
• How much money do you have to have in the bank to feel safe?
• Do you each know what your money set-points are?
• What kinds of investments do you feel are safe (for you) or risky?
• How much debt is too much debt?
• What kind of debt are you willing to take on?
• How much insurance is enough?
• If you have children, how will you keep those children safe financially?
As you get to know each other, you should be working to clarify each other’s goals. If it’s airy-fairy (I’d like to own a house), nail it down (what kind of house, where, when, how much house?).
You also need to talk about your different approaches to planning. For while one of you may be all spontaneity and impulse, the other may be a structure freak. Figure out what’s important to you both so you can draw on each other’s strengths to create a solid money match.