"Marrying a person who shares your attitudes about money might just be the smartest financial decision you will ever make. In fact, when it comes to finances, your marriage is likely to be your most valuable asset--or your largest liability."
-Tara Siegel Bernard, "The Key to Wedded Bliss? Money Matters" NYT Sept. 10, 2008-
When I read Ms. Bernard's column last night I had an ah ha moment. She's absolutely right. Yes, love is a key ingredient to a solid marriage, but as Betsey Stevenson, a business professor at the University of Pennsylvania says:
And Susan Reach Winters, a divorce lawyer in Short Hills, NJ agrees:
"Most people think people break up over sex issues and children issues--and those are issues--but money is a huge factor in breaking up marriages."
How much money do you think you need to be happy & secure? What's more important to you, money or time? Are your a saver or a spender? Are you a bargain-hunter or do you want the best brands? Are you an impulse buyer or someone who waits & thinks it over? Can you live with debt or do you aim for the debt-free life? Big house-little house? Expensive car-Modest car?
And the big question? Are you & your spouse in agreement on these questions?
When I got married at 21, almost 37 years ago it was the early 70's. Still the Woodstock, back-to-the-land, anti-establishment era. We didn't think we needed much money to get by or be happy. And we lived on my big $5100 a year while my husband finished grad school. Our parents said, "You'll see. Money will matter to you one day."
Yep, they were right, money matters, but who knew at age 21 how lucky we were to marry our "financial soul mates". I'm probably the more conservative one of the two. At birthday, anniversary times, or on vacation, hubby always say, "I wish you liked jewelry. I wish there was something I could buy you."
We've been in our 1960's era house for over 25 years. It's still a work in progress. We buy our cars & drive them for over 10 years. We hate to shop. We like to save. We both work less than 5 days a week. But, we don't think twice about buying high quality healthy food, athletic equipment, or books; making charitable contributions, investing in our kids' education, or going on modest-cost vacations.
So, here are the Seven Keys to Wedded Financial Bliss according to the successfully married and experts on psychology, divorce and finance:
- TALK AND SHARE GOALS
- RUN A HOME LIKE A BUSINESS
- BE SUPPORTIVE OF CAREERS
- ENJOY, BUT WITHIN REASON
- USE A MEDIATOR IF YOU HAVE DIVERGENT FINANCIAL GOALS OR STYLES
- MAINTAIN SOME INDEPENDENCE
- INVEST IN YOUR MARRIAGE--SPEND TIME & MONEY TOGETHER!