According to Marriage.com, financial conflicts are the second highest reason for breakups and divorce, after infidelity. A creditcards.com survey found that 7.2 million Americans are hiding money from their spouses, either by spending in secret or keeping a secret account. It’s an international symptom.
A women’s health survey found 69% of all women have stress and anxiety related health problems routed in financial insecurity. Fears around finances underpin why many women feel trapped in unhappy relationships, and less likely to file for divorce compared to men.
Having financial confidence, savvy and healthy boundaries around money also eliminates your vulnerability to romance scams, which in 2016 cost consumers more than $230 million according to the FBI (not all cases are reported due to embarrassment).
We cannot afford not to have honest, transparent conversations about money. It’s an essential component of creating a happy, balanced, life with your partner. Unfortunately, merely “trusting” a person, without an honest conversation isn’t enough to maintain your financial security, safety and peace of mind.
I discussed this topic with Millen Livis, a Financial Empowerment Mentor and Wealth Architect. She supports women to achieve financial freedom and advises them how to invest their money to create lasting wealth.
These are six principles she has applied in her own life and now teaches her clients:
1) Understand your Money Habits, Values and Goals
You need to do a regular audit, be clear and honest with yourself about your spending style, values and goals around money. You need to establish what financial freedom means to you.
2) Learn your Partner’s Money Habits and Values
You’ll be able to gauge his spending habits from his lifestyle, his interests, and how he spends his time without talking about actual amounts. This isn’t anyone’s business unless you’re about to make a serious commitment.
You need to observe if the external “appearance” of success, actions and words match someone’s actual financial position and money values. Are they projecting an image of wealth and security, yet steeped in debt?
3) Discover if your Money Habits are Compatible
Before your relationship gets serious, before you start planning to move in together, get engaged or married, it is the right time to discuss if you’re financially compatible. It should be a transparent, honest, helpful conversation without judgement, including debts, loans, financial responsibilities that may impact you as a couple. Be open with your intentions, desires and aspirations, and how you would like to live your lives together.
Spenders and savers can support and compliment each others spending styles when you have discussed and agreed how you’re going to manage it together. There shouldn’t be secrecy around it.
4) Have Integrity and Respect for yourself and your Partner
It may sound pessimistic to think about returning gifts, splitting assets at the start of a loving relationship, in case it ends. But it’s a smart and responsible way to maintain trust, security, and respect for each other and to avoid acrimonious cases like Marcus Antebi who is suing his ex-fiancé for the return of her $30,000 engagement ring.
“It’s important to be in integrity regardless of your financial position.”
5. Maintain your Financial Independence
Whether you’re married or living together, Millen also advises having at least two bank accounts within relationships, which you are transparent about.
How you chose to do it has to work for you. For example, use shared accounts for utilities, vacations, recreation and shared goals. But always maintain your own personal account, to keep your financial independence.
When you have your own money you feel more responsible for managing it, you don’t need to ask permission for something that’s important to you, but isn’t for the other.
6) Get a Prenup or Cohabiting Agreement
Whether you’re cohabiting, or married, Millen advocates getting a simple prenuptial agreement to avoid disagreements and conflicts about assets, loans, childcare, and pets.
“Everything should be transparent, honest, and open. This is irrespective of who earns more money, which is being in integrity with your actions, attitude and intentions. When someone loves you, they will be willing to find a solution that works for both of you”.
Money shouldn’t be the reason you’re trapped in an unhappy relationship because you have no means to support yourself financially.
These six steps will help you approach your financial independence and security in a way that makes you feel secure, safe and prepared each step of the way.
The full article, including whether you should lend your partner money is available HERE