Financial incompatibility is one of the major causes of separation and divorce. Yet many people don’t pause to think whether their partner is a good financial match before they make a commitment. Using strategies outlined here will help you evaluate if your partner is a good financial match for you.
One of the best ways to enjoy a happy partnership and a secure marriage is to ensure you both make a great financial match. This does not mean marrying a wealthy man or woman, or a person earning a salary close to yours. It means finding a partner whose financial goals and style work well with yours. Often, people in love are swept away romantically and fail to take a hard look at financial compatibility before marrying or moving in together.
There are a few strategies you can use to evaluate your financial compatibility long before getting committed to each other. Getting to know each other financially will not only strengthen your love, but also bring you great fulfillment. Since many divorces are caused by financial problems, it is wise to work out money issues before you marry. If you are already married, it’s not too late to do an evaluation and find some compromise where differences may exist.
WHAT KIND OF FINANCIAL PARTNER DO YOU WANT?
If you are looking to get involved in a serious relationship, you should first think about what you want your partner to bring to the table financially even before you begin dating. It is important to have a vision of your preferred marriage and family setup. Do you envision both of you working, or do you want the woman to stay at home to raise children? Do you want a man who is the sole breadwinner? Do you want to delay having children and use the money you make to travel and see the world? Do you want many investments or will be satisfied with just owning a home? Is your ultimate goal to be fabulously wealthy?
It is important to find a partner who shares the same basic life goals with you in order to be happy. It will not work to try to convince a poorly paid artist or a stay-at-home mum to become the sole breadwinner. You will also not be happy if you want to stay at home while your husband or wife expects you to bring home half the household income.
Early in the dating process, you need to discover the goals and dreams of your partner to see if they will make a good match for you. If you evaluate everything and are convinced they can’t, it is better to decide this early to move on before you become too attached and then try to rationalise away these key differences.
Assuming that you and your partner are looking for the same type of a long-term relationship, the next step is to evaluate his basic financial habits in the early stages of dating. You will need to focus on five top traits and evaluate them closely. These include, personal financial management skills, financial integrity, financial realism, financial style and financial negotiation skills. As you evaluate your potential partner, look at your own habits in these areas as well. You cannot expect to be attractive to a man or woman with good financial habits if yours do not add up as well.
1. Personal financial management skills
Remember long before you met your partner, he or she had developed personal financial management skills and you will quickly see them in action. On the most basic level, the first question you need to ask is whether he or she is a responsible individual. Do they support themselves financially or are they still living off their parents or siblings? Do they have a job or business? Are they able to handle the expenses of a place to live in? Can they handle the expenses of maintaining a car or commuting from point A to B? Does their life seem financially chaotic? Are they always in a kind of financial dilemma? If so, they may have very poor financial management skills, or this may be a red flag that you are dealing with a financially unreliable person.
On the other hand, if they are able to manage their own life financially, chances are they will make a good financial partner and you will be able to manage finances well together. To get a little more information, you can ask them whether or not they do a budget every month and compare how you both go about tracking expenses. You could also try to get some information on how they balance their accounts. This will give you a great deal of information without prying too deeply at the beginning.
2. Financial integrity
The next thing to try and evaluate is your partner’s financial integrity. You want to partner with a man or woman who meets their financial obligations honestly. You can find out some things about this by asking questions. How do they feel about paying taxes, or paying back debts? Do they pay their bills on time? Do they fiddle with their employer’s money to make a few extra shilling? Are they involved in corrupt dealings?
Many of these behaviours can be the signs of a dangerous sociopath. If they don’t display financial integrity with others, they won’t display it with you. On the other hand, if they seem to be extremely honest and conscientious, you will be in good hands and will be able to build a life together. It follows without saying that you must also have financial integrity for an honest man or woman to be attracted to you since they will soon learn the truth about your lack of values.
3. Financial realism
It is critical that you observe a healthy attitude of financial realism in your partner. Their spending should not outstrip their means, and they should not carry a heavy load of debts. Do they incur heavy credit card bills in bars and restaurants? If a person insists on a lavish lifestyle that they cannot afford, they may be extremely insecure and out of touch with financial reality. The desire to impress will only lead to ruin, and if you marry such a person, you will be responsible for the many debts they will continue to accumulate.
It may not be easy to evaluate whether a person you are dating is living beyond their means in the early stages of a relationship. But if you miss it at this stage, it may be possible to discover it at a later stage of commitment when financial discussions are common. However, if you know the person you are dating has a relatively modest job and exhibits a fancy lifestyle, beware. This is a red flag. Also remember that while it is good to have big dreams, if a person’s only dream is to live a millionaire’s lifestyle without working for it, you may be saddled with a disgruntled husband or wife who will never be happy with what you can both realistically achieve. This kind of partnership could land you in big debts and big trouble, and it’s best to run when you sense danger.
4. Financial style
Another important thing to evaluate is whether you like your partner’s financial style. Do you think of them as cheap, or do you find them generous? These impressions can be very subjective, and what one person may think of as incredible cheapness may strike another as admirably thrifty. If you love to hunt for discounts in bargain stores or spend an hour haggling over price, you need to find a person who also places a high value on frugality. If you love to live big, dress expensively or drive big cars, you will need to find a partner who agrees with your approach to spending.
Many power struggles in relationships can be avoided by paying attention to how the two of you handle money, and whether you have similar spending habits. You will be able to learn more about your partner’s savings and investing habits as the relationship progresses, but their spending style will indicate a great deal about their approach to money early on. While this trait may not be a deal breaker in the way financial integrity or financial realism is, differences in financial style can cause a great deal of friction in a long-term partnership or marriage.
5. Financial negotiating skills
As soon as you start dating, you and your partner will be entering into financial negotiations. Who will settle the bill on a date? Who will pay for the taxi ride? Who will pick theatre tickets? As your relationship progresses, there will be more and more opportunities to discuss who is paying for what. Some women expect men to pay for everything; others feel more comfortable and more independent when they share the costs. Some men are uncomfortable with women footing the bills even when the woman may be earning more than them.
All these situations require communication and negotiation. Ideally, you should both be able to discuss finances in a civil manner and come up with a system that works for both of you. Red flags to watch out for include the passive partner who pays but acts resentful, manipulating you into paying without having an honest discussion about it. You should also avoid the bully who feels he or she owns you because they pay the bills. You need to keep an eye out for the gold digger who never contributes anything. Even assuming your financial styles match, financial negotiation is a crucial skill you need, to make a long-term relationship work, as you cannot avoid discussing family budgets, savings and wealth creation.
Now that you have evaluated your partner and are sure he or she meets the financial compatibility bill, the next step is to move towards commitment. Read the next issue on how to go about this to ensure you maintain similar financial goals and your relationship remains happy.
Shape Your FINANCES…Shape your LIFE