Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Trust and Money

Recently I read an editorial which stated that if you don't trust your spouse/partner with money, then you don't trust your spouse.

It's true that many couples have issues surrounding money.  Money is very important in our culture.  It is true that in our culture, people are more comfortable talking about sex than about money (their salaries).

When I read the quote above, I get the impression that one needs to have all money in common (in a couple), even asking permission from the other partner before spending money.  And perhaps that's a good goal for many couples.

I know money was a huge deal for my parents growing up.  With six kids and one working parent, there was never enough.  It was stressful.   At some point for parents, when money is really tight, you think about whether or not your child will get glasses, or you'll get something new for yourself. 

In my own marriage, we disagree about where to spend money sometimes.  My husband and I have different priorities.  There are things he values and will spend money on, and things I value that I will spend money on.  A simple example is lunch; I will often buy lunch.  Usually what I buy can be a little pricier - since I try to buy healthy, fresh food.  If I bought a hot dog from the gas station, it would be much cheaper.  But long term, for me, healthier is more important than less expensive. 

On top of navigating money issues when there isn't a lot of money, and with different priorities, there is also always the chance of things going wrong.  When my grandfather passed away in the 70s, my grandmother struggled for the first few months because nothing was in her name.  She couldn't get credit.  I haven't been able to talk with her about it, but it must have made the loss even that much more difficult. 

Other friends separate and divorce. As fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, it seems reasonable to at least consider the possibility.  If all money is in common, if all the retirement accounts are in common - it could be difficult separate them fairly.  That doesn't stop some divorcees from making poor financial decisions

So it's more complicated than just not trusting the other person in a relationship. 

I agree that it's important for each couple to be working towards common goals, and have common priorities.  I completely agree that couples should talk about money, and about all the emotional baggage that can go along with money.  But I'm not sure that it's advisable for all couples to always handle finances in the same way.  People are different.  Couples are different.  And more than anything, I think both partners should be financially solvent (where possible) and maintain credit. 


Donna Banta said...

I think it's unfortunate that people attach so much prestige to money, and in some cases, their self worth. Some of the most important people in society (teachers for example) are paid relatively little.

When we were first married, we argued over money. Probably because we spent too much. But then we were paying tithing to the LDS Church and running around doing callings, etc. We used money we didn't have for time-saving luxuries. Then we left the church, and the arguments over money stopped for the most part. We weren't paying tithing, and we had more time to enjoy "free" time with each other and the kids.

Good post. :)

Freckle Face Girl said...

I agree that money is usually a hot topic. I know quite a few couples that seem to be great communicators when it comes to everything else. They have decided that dividing the pot after paying bills & savings works best. That way, they can give the other person a bit of freedom. Different things definitely work for different couples.