“Hello B&M Survive LDR! I heard an interesting radio commentary on finances and couples. The gist of the discussion was, when do couples discuss their financial positions and goals? Early on? Once engaged? When it too late? This study showed that (a high percentage of) women who allow their men/spouses to handle the finances, lack financial savvy, and live poorer lifestyles. And, suffer even more emotional turmoil when the male dies because the women have little or no concept of how to maneuver the day to day financial duties. This report states the percentage seems to be higher among millennials. Do you have any comments on this subject? “
When do couples discuss their financial positions and goals? Early on? Once engaged? When is it too late?
Once the discussion and agreement has been made that the overall goal or the relationship is headed towards marriage then it’s a good time to begin having discussions. They don’t have to be in depth yet, just simple questions or observations about your partner’s habits. At this point, you are semi out of the blinded phase and should have by now noticed how your girlfriend/boyfriend has been spending their money.
This is definitely THE time to begin this discussion if it hasn’t already been started.
When is it too late?
Most definitely Marriage is TOO late. At that point everything is both of your responsibilities from student loans to credit card debt to bills. If you wait until you say “I Do” and have no idea how your partner spends and/or saves money, you're bound to have a recurring issue centered around money. If you look up reason for divorce, money related issues is in the Top 3. It is less likely if it is discussed beforehand.
Let’s start this off with the fact that I (Bryanna) am a planner and have a weird thing about money. I have a spreadsheet for everything from my budget to how/where I spend my money. So of course money was an important topic to me especially when we started our careers and realized we were serious about each other. Thus, we started really discussing our financial positions a little closer to 1 year together. The topic came about once we started talking about our future and getting married. We knew that getting married involved multiple things including merging finances and because of that one thing that we’ve instilled in our relationship from the beginning was transparency. We shared our financial history, our principles on money, and our current situations. We would talk about our spending habits and how much we saved, but what really got us opened up about money was when we 1st started our careers and had to start paying real bills. We needed to get in the habit of budgeting as Bryanna was living on her own and Marcus was looking to move to a new city.
Another push for knowing each other spending habits and finances was the fact that we are LDR and sometimes we wanted to see each other but didn’t have the money or we planned out a trip months in advance so we would work together to figure out how much to save and create a budget to get there. LDR makes those conversation a little easier I think as you want to be open and transparent with your partner so why would money be any different.
This study showed that (a high percentage of) women who allow their men/spouses to handle the finances, lack financial savvy, and live poorer lifestyles. And, suffer even more emotional turmoil when the male dies because the women have little or no concept of how to maneuver the day to day financial duties. This report states the percentage seems to be higher among millennials. Do you have any comments on this subject?
This is a common trend that you hear about. The husband dies and now the wife's world is turned upside down because he always paid the home mortgage, lawn care, electrical bill, etc. and she doesn't know how much, when, or who to pay. That’s not always the case though because nowadays that roll can be switched or even 50/50. For example, I am really good with finances. I use a spreadsheet for everything I pay for. Also, I’m a person who likes to plan things 5 steps ahead so I don’t think that will become an issue for us because even if something does happen Marcus will be able to see the documents I create and have all the account information.
But back to the basis of the study of one spouse having little to no concept of the financial duties: I think that all of it happens because a precedent was set that’s grounded in that fact that money is a taboo. Often time while dating or when going into marriage different precedents are set that after they have become standard, want to be undone. For example, A woman hates to drive and while dating. her boyfriend promises her that he will always drive her around. They get married and he kept his promise but now he is starting to dislike that he created this precedent because she knows that anywhere she needs to go he will drive her but what if he’s tired, sick, etc. that doesn’t matter at all because of that promise while dating. Like this precedent, I feel that dealing with the finances is usually a precedence that is set usually by the less financially savvy person to avoid having to deal with it but we have to get out of this taboo. This taboo has been around forever so it will take some work to get comfortable with sharing and discussing finances with each other.
It’s nothing wrong, if you're not that great with money and your partner/spouse is, to let them take care of expenses but just be aware of what’s happening. I feel that finances should be documented for each other to see. Like before everything became digital, checkbooks held all the transactions so whether it’s just reviewing the bank statement or even just being aware of what’s being paid it’s a step in the right direction.
As we have discussed marriage, we also discuss how we think we want our finances to function. We talked about how the best option for us would be both joint and separate accounts. The joint account would get both of our incomes and after paying all bills and expenses we would be given a percentage to our personal accounts like an allowance. This would allow us to have some fun money and not have to worry about accidentally spending the bill money when I go get my nails done or Marcus goes to a haircut. Even though we want both joint and personal accounts, we believe that everything should be open and we both will have access to all accounts and account information.
With technology now there are so many ways to view account information without having to log into the bank or review bank statements such as alerts or money management apps. Beyond that, when we were talking about how we would possibly do this, I loved the idea of a monthly family finance meeting to discuss goals such as paying our student loan debt effectively to saving up to buy a home. This allows us to align on how we want to spend/save and we can come to an agreement on what habit needs to be sacrificed to achieve a goals so it’s not one-sided. As we have more discussion our ideas may morph into something else but we wanted to present information on how we openly discuss money with each other.
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