Money Matches #2: Creating Money Matches

We can love a body without ever understanding what makes that body tick. Even couples that have been together for eons scratch their heads at some of the things their mates do.  That’s because we are evolving creatures constantly responding to the stimuli around us, constantly growing, constantly changing. Well some of us. There are folks who are exactly the same at 45 as they were at 15, but in all likelihood their mates didn’t remain stagnant and so, as a couple, the dynamic has changed.

It’s important that each of us know ourselves when it comes to how we think and feel about money. And it’s just as important if we’re planning to share our lives with someone else that we figure out if we’re a money match or a money mismatch. Not feeling the same about money doesn’t mean an automatic no-go. It simply means you know where the other guy is coming from. Yes, people who are less compatible can face more challenges when pairing off. But those who subvert their own money personality to match their mate’s are just asking for trouble. It can’t last. And when your mate finds out you’ve been pretending, it’s going to be a tough pill to swallow.

Coming up with a plan for how you’ll manage your money means negotiating a common ground.  You start by admitting who you are, how you feel about money, what’s important to you and what isn’t. Then you listen and accept the other guy’s open and frank discussions about what makes him or her tick. Finally, you work together to come up with a plan that keeps you both happy. If you can’t come up with the strength it takes to get through an exercise like this together, then you just shouldn’t even bother hooking up. After all, marriage is work and if you aren’t prepared to work hard, don’t even bother to start.

Money means different things to different people. In my book, A Woman of Independent Means, I talk a lot about how money can mean abundance or denial, power or autonomy, love or control. Are you a money miser? Are you a spender, an avoider, an acquirer, a depriver or a debtor? Have you ever sat down and thought about how your attitude to money affects how you experience life?

The reality is that it doesn’t seem to matter how much people earn, many of them are not happy with their financial lot. And when two people bring emotional baggage to a relationship – particularly the emotional baggage that surrounds money and that they NEVER talk about, the relationship can turn into a power struggle and life can feel more like strife.

One of the easiest places to start the conversation about money is talking about what you’re most comfortable with and what you feel is most risky. Putting on the table the things you need to feel safe is a natural part of the hooking-up process. And talking about the things that make you feel most unsafe is a natural extension. Since many money issues have a comfort/risk component, it’s easy to move from a general discussion to a money talk.

  • How much money do you have to have in the bank to feel safe?
  • Do you each know what your money set-points are?
  • What kinds of investments do you feel are safe (for you) or risky?
  • How much debt is too much debt?
  • What kind of debt are you willing to take on?
  • How much insurance is enough?
  • When you have children, how will you keep those children safe financially?

As you get to know each other, you should be working to clarify each other’s goals. If it’s airy-fairy (I’d like to own a house), nail it down (what kind of house, where, when, how much house?)

You also need to talk about your different approaches to planning. For while one of you may be all spontaneity and impulse the other may be a structure freak.  Figure out what’s important to yourself and the other guy before you run into a wall.

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