I am NOT anti-love. I am also NOT a villain, wicked witch, or a downright pessimist when it comes to riding off into the sunset with the man or woman of your dreams.
I am, however, an individual who tries to anticipate the behaviors of others and mitigate any risks which may negatively impact me, and this includes my financial life. In the past, my left-brained behavior has ultimately served me well by providing opportunities and successes.
With this in mind, how does this translate when it comes to love and money? When should we begin to discuss our financial history with the one we love? What happens if your love is not on your financial level?
The Money Talk
The financial discussion that takes place between you and your significant other or partner is what I refer to as “The Money Talk.” During this talk, you and your partner reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to your individual finances.
I often wonder how many people actually participate in this ritual, or if it is just me that believes this is another important form of intimacy? To answer that question, I gathered my friend Julia (Strong is Our Sexy’s PR guru) and a camera, and headed to Fountain Square in Cincinnati to ask about relationships and finances.
I was happy to discover that I am not alone in believing that this discussion should not be taken lightly. The majority of individuals told me that this conversation should occur when you believe that there is a future with the other person. They also expressed that financial information should be disclosed PRIOR to marriage or anytime that you are making a life changing decision such as moving into the same home. I also enjoyed some of the side conversations that I was able to have with them about not co-signing loans for significant others/partners and how too much consumer debt could be a deal breaker!
“Buyer Beware” and the Importance of Honesty
I believe that both parties have the right to know and fully understand their significant other’s financial situation prior to jumping into the pool headfirst.
How would you feel if your love had $60,000 in consumer debt? Could you sleep at night if you were to marry someone who had $100,000 in private student loan debt (not dischargeable upon bankruptcy) and had difficulty finding a job? Could you handle spending a lifetime with a “spender?”
Please Be Honest with yourself, as these are all valid questions that will assist you in making a decision with your head and not necessarily your heart. And beware: “I did not know” is not an argument that can be used in the event that you co-signed a loan that your love stopped repaying, or if thousands of dollars in consumer debt is accrued on an account in both of your names.
Love Yourself First
If you were truly honest and asked yourself all of the questions that are important to your well-being, and found that some of your partner’s finances do not settle well on your heart, you have to TALK to that person about what is troubling you. This is NOT SELFISH! In fact, it is you loving and protecting yourself! You cannot possibly love someone else if you do not love yourself first. Do you really want to take the next step in a relationship with hesitation?
There is no defined right or wrong time to talk about your finances. I probably wouldn’t lead with the topic on the first date (although a FICO score on a shirt pocket may be nice), but before you fall head over heels in love and move in together or get married, consider “The Money Talk.” This talk allows both of you to decide with confidence how to continue in the relationship. Who knew money could be so full of emotion?
A special thanks is given to Julia Burks and the ladies and gentleman who assisted with the video clip obtained on Fountain Square in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Amanda Golsch is a six year employee of Children’s Hospital Medical Center and an adjunct professor for the University of Cincinnati. While in grad school, Amanda developed a passion for personal finance. She realized that personal finance can impact every aspect of your life, including your health. Therefore, Amanda has set out to teach as many women as possible basic financial principles that can leave a powerful and lasting impact. Her motto is “A financially literate woman is a powerful woman.” Got a question for Amanda? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.