Dick, Jane and the Benjamins

15 Feb

february4Dick, Jane and the Benjamins

How to manage the three way relationship between you, your partner and your paper

Ahh yes, it’s Valentine’s Day again, what a wonderful time of year.The time of year when women love to get PJs and men really want…well…never mind, it’s mostly a woman’s holiday.

Since this Valentine’s Day is coming smack dab in the middle of a financial crisis and a recession, it got me to thinking; How are relationships holding up amidst all of this mess?

 Money is the root of all evil, and it also seems to be the cause of many breakups.In fact, one of the most often cited reasons for problems in a marriage is disagreements about finances.Combine that with the fact that marital problems are one of the top causes for personal bankruptcy filings and you can see how a bad relationship can quickly send you to the poor house.

 See, when two people decide to go for a ride, money seems to always call shotgun.Even worse, money is like the ex that your current mate keeps comparing you too.Only this ex comes around every two weeks, stays for dinner, and periodically instigates a fight between the two of you.

With a little help from yours truly, you can have a great V-day and beyond without letting the greenback come between you and your red light special.

Let’s Talk About…Sex?

It surprises me how much easier it seems for people to talk about sex than it is to talk about money.How can money be the more taboo topic?Fellas, if it’s okay for you to ask her what her favorite position is, surely she shouldn’t be afraid to ask you what your credit score is, right?Oh, and ladies it goes both ways.If size matters, it must be okay for him to ask about the size of your retirement account, correct?If you don’t learn to talk about money issues voluntarily, believe me, eventually they will come out on their own.

Okay, perhaps this conversation doesn’t need to happen on the first date.If a relationship is going to go anywhere though, the talk needs to happen sooner than later.Just like two aesthetically challenged people probably shouldn’t be hooking up (I think the world may have actually stopped spinning if Flava Flav and New York had ever decided to procreate), neither should two people who couldn’t budget their way out of a 99 cent store.You need to be compatible in a number of ways and developing complimentary thoughts and feelings about money is one of them; A very important one.If you are not on the same page, your signatures probably will be…on the divorce papers.

We Want Prenup, We Want Prenup…Yeah!

 People don’t get prenuptial agreements for the same reason they don’t buy insurance…something bad has to happen for either of those things to be useful and we’d rather not think about it. You don’t need to be making “Arab Money” to have one, but, if you want to dramatically increase your odds of losing a great deal of your wealth, how ever much that might be, go ahead…don’t draft one and see what happens. [Insert your favorite Michael Jordan, Bob Johnson, Paul McCartney or Madonna joke here] Best sign that divorce is really expensive?Many couples that hate each other have been forced to stay together during this recession because it would be too costly to divorce.

 There’s nothing wrong with hoping and praying for the best, but planning forbrad-angie-prenup the worst.If you are honest with yourself, you know that anytime you start to spend every waking moment with someone, the odds increase that you are going to get sick of them at some point (isn’t that why you hate your little brother?).Remember all of those things that you looked past when you first started dating?Sooner or later those things will start to bug the hell out of you.

 Relationships are a lot of work.Both of you may not be ready, willing or able to put in the effort that it takes.Before you find out if that is the case, make sure you are protected.

Is it Really All About the Benjamins?

If you’ve been paying attention, this crisis has shown us that we spent a lot of money trying to make ourselves look like something that we might not truly be.At some point, money becomes a front for something else.Men may use money to hide a feeling of inadequacy in some other part of their lives.Women may spend money in an effort to cover up a lack of self esteem.You name it (status, power, respect, security, control, independence…love), and someone somewhere has found a way to use money as a proxy for that emotion.

 Relationships can’t really thrive until you can get to the bottom of what really drives each other’s feelings and attitude towards money.You also have to keep in mind that your mate, or you for that matter, might not actually be conscious of exactly what their (your) underlying feelings really are.Most of us were never taught how to deal with money or what it represents. We learned our money habits from our parents.If your parents constantly worried about money, you probably worry the same way or work so hard that you don’t ever have to experience that feeling again.If cash flowed freely in your household you likely have no qualms about your weekly excursion to Macys.Either way, your relationship with money was shaped by your childhood experience.

 So here’s your assignment:

  • Find a non stressful time (i.e. not the day rent is due) to talk about money issues, perhaps over an adult beverage to ease any tension.
  • Be honest about how your partner’s money habits make you feel, but also try to understand what is behind their feelings.
  • Set guidelines on spending for holidays, birthdays, Christmas, etc.Sure you’ll break them from time to time, but only because you care.

 Follow these rules and you’ll never have to rely on VH1 to find you someone to be with on Valentine’s Day.

I’d like to hear from you guys.  How do you and your significant other manage your financial affairs?

Rob Wilson has a wealth management practice where he provides financial advice and guidance to professional athletes and entertainers.He can be reached at rob at robwilson dot tv with your financial questions and comments.

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