Monday, December 1, 2008

Would you tell your girlfriend/boyfriend about your finances?

Early this year there was an article in a money management advice column in which a woman was afraid to disclose her wealth to her boyfriend. She'd been burned before by guys who were only in the relationship for money. The columnist advised her to be honest if she was serious about the relationship. Good advice.

Then I read a question on Yahoo Answers in which a guy wondered why is girlfriend was so upset about his poor financial management and debt. She was at the point of worrying and crying. I was surprised by many answers (from guys) who pegged the girlfriend as a gold digger.

These two aren't the only people trying to figure out how money and love can work together. Love can often lead to marriage and money trouble can often lead to divorce. But how honest should you be and when do you disclose your financial situation?

Sometimes you can pick up clues about the way your date relates to money.
  • Is he/she always rushing to the ATM?
  • Does he/she complain about bills or debt?
  • Does he/she worry about the costs of things?
  • Does he/she like to take expensive vacations or buy nice things without a sign of worry?

Of course you'll notice other things. But if the your conversations begin to turn to living together or future plans it's not enough to rely on clues. It's best to be open and ask some direct questions to determine if you are financially compatible.

  • Where do you want to spend your life?
  • What's your dream job?
  • How do you see your life in 10 years?
  • How much money do you earn?
  • Do you want joint bank accounts? Why?
  • What are your financial goals? What's your plan for reaching those goals?
  • What is your debt situation?
  • How many credit cards do you have?
  • What percentage of your income do you spend every payday?
  • What are your financial obligations?
  • If you or I were offered a lucrative job opportunity in some other region of the country, would you be prepared to move?
  • Do you have any long-term savings?

These might sound like a battery of job interview-type questions. So it's up to you how you present these and get your answers. And whether or not the answers change your feelings is up to you. But if you do address these issues there isn't any room for claiming that you were unaware of what you were getting into.

When it comes to love and money this is one area where you've got to separate your hear from your head. That over spender maybe cute, lovable and generous now. But a few years down the road when there are kids to care for and mortgages to pay it you'll need to know that you can count on your other half.

Hey December is Engagement Month. More couple's become engaged in December than in February. And since this is a credit union blog--I'm going to take a look at the financials of love all week.

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