Everyone wants to be financially free. What’s the best way to do that? I say: stay single. Live with your parents. Don’t get married or have someone else depend on you. Don’t get kids – we all know kids = more expenses! The alternative is if you marry rich (i.e. strike lottery) – well, good for you!
But people are social creatures, and some of us eventually feel the need for companionship, and the desire to start a family. That kind of family life is priceless; you can’t put a monetary value on having someone loving you and someone to love unconditionally.
So in the quest for managing your personal finance, your better half is a key factor. Your partner has a huge impact on how your finances will play out. I cannot stress this enough.
A good partner to your finances
The good partner is in tune with your life values and goals. In bad times, he or she is in it with you, to ride out lows: supporting you when the going gets tough, saving money, being frugal, enjoying little inexpensive pleasures in life. In good times, he or she is there to celebrate bonuses, good times, enjoying the fruits of your labour.
This partnership is guided by common goals, more explicitly, common FINANCIAL goals. Both parties believe that you will ride out lows and do what is necessary. Perhaps both parties believe that it is more important to earn more and strive to increase income. They support one another in their financial management.
The other extreme – the partner killing your finances
But then in some cases, your partner can be an absolute nightmare. They can drain you financially, stealthily, like a slow poison. The car purchase that leaves you with hardly any savings every month. The expensive party for your 1 month old kid, and the next expensive party (parties) at every occasion.
The “let’s show off” partner
I know of a couple with a combined income of about $4-5k monthly, and they chose to spend lavishly on their month-old kid with a themed party, booked venue, huge cakes, catered food. I know its a Chinese tradition to celebrate when your baby is 1 month old. But still, the extent of celebration seriously outweighs what they could afford. Instead of holding it at a hotel function room, why not hold it at your own home?
Another couple, with a combined income of $15k month, just had just a small family gathering and a few private gatherings with friends for their baby’s celebration. Nothing fancy.
At the end of the day, do you want to show the world how well off you are? Are you proving to yourself how fantastic your life is? Are you sacrificing your future self for short-lived entertainment?
The “vampire” partner
This kind of partner is the most toxic. They’re there just to suck your money. All for their benefit. If your girlfriend says that all expenses on your dates should be paid for by you, drop that **** like a hot potato. There’s an extent to gentlemanliness and this is not it. She has to feel like she should pay sometimes, and at the very least, have the conscience to appreciate it when you foot the bill. It should not be taken for granted.
I know of a friend whose girlfriend got him to pay her rent for her. He must have loved her a lot to do that for years. Sometimes guys do things hoping that the other party see their sincerity, hoping that their actions will touch her heart. But money doesn’t buy love. Money doesn’t buy happiness. She could go out with you as a thank you for paying her rent, but at the end of the day, when the next guy comes along offering to pay her rent… whoosh! She’s gone just like that. You got nothing but zero returns on your monetary investment in her.
“Ok, so now what?” you ask. Don’t worry, SG RR got you covered.
If you’re not committed yet
If you haven’t settled down with your partner (or if you’re still in the dating stage, listen up.
Choose a partner with similar financial goals. I find it best to go into a relationship where both parties don’t expect anything from the other party financially. At least, if you’re going into a relationship, don’t make it seem like you’re earning big bucks. You don’t want someone who wants you for your money. Leave the “vampires” to those who really can afford to throw money in the wind.
Make sure you have a discussion early on. I read The Barefoot Investor and the author advocated a Monthly Barefoot Date Night. Although he meant it for discussions with your spouse, I strongly believe that couples should deconstruct the taboos around financial discussions early, even while you’re in the dating phase. Make it an open, honest, regular discussion through your dating life to be certain that you and your partner have a similar mindset or can both come to an agreement on your future and finances.
If you’re already committed to your partner
I don’t think there’s any book out there telling you NOT to talk to your partner about finances. The only situations that you can avoid such discussions are:
- When you’re enjoying the benefits of your partner paying for everything under the sun.
- When you’re gladly paying for everything under the sun, including the moon, the stars, couples of real estate, and maybe truckloads of designer bags.
- You both really don’t care for anything and support yourselves just fine.
It is my core belief that having financial discussions between committed partners help bring both parties to a common ground and consequently, they become closer and more understanding.
You partner will always affect you financially somehow. The question is, how much? Get yourself aligned and in tune, and know that sometimes, we gotta be aware that he/she may not always be the right partner.