Keeping the peace in your relationship, one dollar at a time...
Money is a touchy subject. Discussing money with your lover can be even touchier, but when you are building a life with someone, the tough questions need answers. We interviewed three very distinctive couples and asked them some questions about how they keep the balance of power in their relationships when sharing finances. See how your own relationship compares and if there is any way in your own life to reduce your financial stresses and enjoy each other more.
COUPLE #1: The stay-at-home mom and the working dad.
Will and Sara (both 48) met in 1992 and have been married for 12 years. He is an insurance executive, and she was an investment counselor for 20 years before deciding to quit her job five years ago and stay at home with their two beautiful children, ages 11 and 8. They both feel that even though raising children is an expensive venture, their number one priority is family. Living in Maplewood, NJ, they own a fantastic home that they recently renovated and have no debt except for their mortgage that they have since paid off.
TWODAY: Who handles the finances? Why? Does the balance of power ever feel off balance because of that?
SARA: He handles the finances because he is incredibly organized and a bit of a control freak. He is also a much better saver and I am more of a spender. I am fine with not worrying about the checkbook, but I don’t feel comfortable at times with not knowing what our fixed expenses are. We regularly discuss investments and cash flow spending, which helps. He does not make investment moves without me, even when we don’t agree.
WILL: Balance is maintained because she spends what she wants within reason and she tells me about it...
SARA: He may grumble, but usually goes along.
TWODAY: What does financial freedom represent to you?
WILL: We both have financial freedom in the sense that all of our needs are comfortably met. To have complete financial freedom, we would like to have enough money saved to continue our lifestyle without having to work. We are working toward this but are not willing to sacrifice vacations and such to get there faster. She might spend more lavishly on artwork and clothes if there was an enormous amount of money, but has no burning desire or need to do so. All of our needs are really well met.
TWODAY: Does it bother you, Sara, that Will makes the money? Is their jealousy about that or have you come to peace with it?
SARA: He may make all of our income now, but it is very important to our balance of power that I made more money when we first met for a number of reasons. I supported him so he could take risks that allowed him to earn a bigger salary. I feel that I am an integral part of his success. I had a sense of financial independence which I never gave up even when Will was the one earning more money. It has always been "OUR" money, which was fairly easy because there wasn't much to begin with. We have never been jealous of each other. In fact, we revel in each other’s successes.
TWODAY: How are you planning on paying for your child’s college education? Any sacrifices that will need to be made financially?
WILL: We are saving right now for the children's education in a separate account and there is an account started by their grandmother.
SARA: I will probably go back to work before they are in college, which should help.