Money and relationships
Undoubtedly a touchy subject for many relationships, finances and financial disagreements can easily become the reason many relationships fail. Throughout my life, people close to me have always said that “money shouldn’t matter when it comes to true love”, and for some reason, I truly agree with that. Despite believing it, though, I would never encourage anyone to cast a blind eye to the importance of finances and good financial management in a relationship.
We’ve all dealt with people who’ve brought emotional baggage into our relationships. But did you know that in addition to emotional baggage, there’s another kind of baggage that can throw your relationship into chaos? It’s called financial baggage, and you might be lugging it along without even realizing it. Many people discover, while deep in a relationship, that someone is hiding debt. This is a bad sign and the cause of many issues. But one way to try and prevent this is by asking your partner about their financial situation from the jump. It’s sometimes considered taboo to ask someone about their personal finances, but if you see a viable future with someone it is a conversation that you two must have. When you’re in a relationship, honesty and transparency is key. No, you don’t need to reveal your salary on a first date, but if you’re getting serious with someone, you need to be able to talk about things like long-term financial goals, short-term obligations and who will pay for what. Trust me, that is a very important conversation you should have, and if a person cannot be open with you about their finances they’re probably hiding a lot more.
In the United States, there is a credit score system that, in a lot of cases, plays a big role in relationships. If your significant other has a bad credit score that undoubtedly will affect anything you two plan to do together. Keep in mind that a Credit Bureau will soon be established in The Bahamas to develop a similar credit score system for Bahamians. Racking up credit card bills and unsecured loans may seem harmless once you are single, but when you merge your life with someone else’s, you also merge your finances. Any debt you bring into the relationship can impact big life goals in the future for you and your partner, from buying a house to having kids and planning your retirement.
Never keep records of who paid what in a relationship. When you’re first dating, splitting the bill or offering to pick up the tab is a nice way of showing you appreciate the person you’re with. But when a relationship becomes a tally count of who owes what, you’re in trouble. Relationships are about give, take and compromise. If you’re just starting out with someone and they’re keeping tabs on every bill you ever paid, that won’t do much to encourage a feeling of affection or camaraderie.
A good way to solve financial issues with couples is by doing the math and, if possible, putting in the same percentage of your salaries toward all bills. This ensures you are both contributing fairly, regardless of what you both earn. Work out your and your partner’s combined worth, taking into account salary and debt. This will help you plan a future together and ensure financial transparency.
Finally, you owe it to yourself to take better care of your money, regardless of whether or not you’ll ever find that special person. But, if you need an extra bit of motivation to get started, think of the dream life you’d like to have with that perfect someone. Use that as inspiration to start getting smarter about your finances. There are a lot of ways a person can contribute to a relationship besides financial offerings. If you feel that your partner puts in less than you, try and see the value in the other things they do. Money alone won’t make your relationship last, because again, money shouldn’t matter when it comes to true love.
• Quinton C. Lightbourne is a certified financial planner with the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland and vice president of the Bahamas Investments & Securities Business Association (BISBA). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.