As a result of authoring a book on money and marriage, many people share their situations with me. Most of the stories involve a common theme—bright, strong, successful people who marry someone that has financial problems.   I can relate, I was one of these people, so I understand. That was why I wrote my book “Til Money Do Us Part.”

Why does this happen? I’ll share some of my observations.

If you have to rationalize or make excuses for a partner who is not making an effort, that is a problem.

Listen to yourself when you discuss or think about your partner’s money habits.   What do you tell yourself? That it will get better? That your partner is victim of yet another situation on a never ending string of bad luck? You can help them and inspire them to make better choices? It really isn’t that bad? This is the only person who will ever love me?

What I learned from my own marriage counseling sessions that strong men and women are magnets for those that have issues.

We become strong because we have developed problem solving skills that have helped us succeed professionally. Your partner’s financial issues will now become your issues. Creditors will find you and begin calling every phone number you have to try collect past due bills. Wages could be garnished that can affect your household income. Liens can be placed on assets, such as bank accounts, houses, investment accounts. Before you know it, you aren’t a partner any longer, but are a parent.   You cannot help someone who doesn’t care, won’t make an effort, continues to make excuses, and promises to change go unmet.

The signs of financial issues prior to marriage were there, but ignored. Why were they ignored?

Because you are involved with someone who loves you, you feel complete. Money shouldn’t be the end all when you have Mr. or Ms. Right that treats you so well, right? Oh but, they have debt, and/or, can’t get a credit card, haven’t filed tax returns, borrow money from you, defaulted on student loans, to name a few situations.   You tell yourself that this will change or poor finances can be overcome by love. Believe me, love and sex goes out the window really fast when you get a notice from the IRS or a bill collector calls your office with threatening demands.

There is shame and embarrassment and you continue to cover for your partner. You put on a brave front so no one knows that your partner has problems that now have become yours. There reaches a point where you cannot continue. Divorce can be costly. Because divorce can be costly, you will stay married so you don’t lose your retirement account, house, or other assets that you have acquired while married. Is this any way to live your life? Unfortunately, many do.

Becoming involved with someone who is not on the same financial wavelength is more common than you think.   Here are a few real life experiences that come to mind:

  • You go to get money from the ATM, and there is no money. Every check is bouncing-why? The IRS had first dibs on your money because your partner ignored the IRS notices and didn’t tell you.
  • The family cars are repossessed in the middle of the night.
  • You go to get refinanced and at that last minute you can’t refinance because the IRS has a lien on your home you didn’t know about.
  • You provide a joint credit card to your partner and they run tens of thousands of dollars of debt really fast going on a spending spree and/or paying off past due bills with your credit.
  • Your car insurance goes up 50% because of your partner’s poor credit score.   Why? Actuarial data supports those with poor credit scores tend to be in more car accidents. Higher risk people pay higher premiums, even if there hasn’t been an accident.
  • Your credit card interest rate went from 9.99% to 24.99%. Credit card companies periodically assess their portfolios to uncover poor credit risks. Poor credit risks have to pay higher interest rates, even if you’ve never missed a payment.
  • You can’t get refinanced because of your partner’s poor credit and your income isn’t sufficient to meet the loan underwriter’s standards.

Nothing is ever that bad or embarrassing to those who are financially dysfunctional. No matter how bad or embarrassing financial situations may be, your partner will not change. Are you inadvertently enabling this behavior, and if so, how do you feel about that?

My book, “Til Money Do Us Part” is available on Amazon. Being a financial professional once married to someone with financial dysfunction, I offer practical advice to help the reader determine if money issues will derail the relationship. Please feel free to share this blog with a friend or loved one who might be thinking about marriage, but maybe settling for Mr. or Ms. Wrong.

 

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We hear about goals, setting goals, working towards goals. But is this truly enough? Why aren’t more people reaching their goals? Can it be the goals themselves are not exciting enough to take action? This year I have decided I am going to take a new tact with goal setting when meeting with clients. For example, everyone eventually wants to “retire and not run out of money.” That’s a goal, but it’s also a necessity.

How does this sound instead? “When I retire I want to see the world and fly first class on every trip I take abroad.”  Think of flying first class– free bags, bin space, free drinks and specially prepared food by gourmet chefs, lots of legroom, being treated well and arriving refreshed instead of trashed to the destination is pretty motivating isn’t it?  Do you feel the difference between “having enough money” vs. what that money would really mean—being able to afford first class?

Think about a goal that would get you truly excited—that the mere thought of it literally takes your breath away and makes you pause and smile. What would instantly take you to your “happy place” by the mere thought of what it would be like to have done something? It could be having something extraordinary, losing weight, paying off a credit card, flying first class on your next vacation, anything that you could possibly want or do. Give yourself permission to dream.

Write that goal down. A goal without a plan is a wish. What steps can you start to take today to make it happen? Maybe fund a special savings account from each paycheck and call it “future first class fund.” Is it a dream car you want? Put a picture of it where you can see it each day. How much does it cost? Can you lease it for less money?  Your dream goal can be anything you want it to be that is important to you.

Now that you have a true, compelling goal, your mind will begin to seek answers and solutions. Think of the color and make of your car. Do you notice how many people are driving your same car? You don’t notice other cars, but you will notice when someone is driving the same car you have. This is called the Baader Meinhof Phenomenon. Your mind will be selective as to what you see based on your experience.

You must see your goal, be able to touch it, feel it, experience it even if it hasn’t happened. Go to the car dealer and sit in your dream car. Next time you get on a plane, imagine yourself sitting in the front with a drink in your hand and relaxing. If you want a nice handbag, go to the store and ask the sales person to show it to you. Look at yourself in the mirror with it. You may not be able to get your dream goal today, but your brain will now begin to be selective in seeking creative solutions to make it happen.

Don’t let another year go by without taking some action on what you truly want in life.

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Blinded by Love When It Comes To Money?

December 4, 2014

We all want to be accepted, to be loved, be paid attention to, be validated, feel important.   Sometimes there is a divorce, a break up, or just plain loneliness that makes one wonder if they will go through life alone forever. We may feel alone, isolated, depressed thinking love has passed us by. All of […]

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Inheriting Debt From a Family Member

October 2, 2014

When a loved one passes away, his or her outstanding debt (and how that debt will be paid) likely won’t be the first thing on your mind. Unfortunately, many people find themselves dealing with a deceased family member’s creditors as they grieve. While no one likes to think about a loved one’s passing, it makes […]

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Preventing Unintended Consequences, Especially if You Are Remarried

August 22, 2014

My Dad’s wife recently passed away in June.   Unfortunately they had not followed advice I had given them—namely, getting their 1990 estate plan updated.   It’s a complicated situation, but the end result is that my Dad has lost access to a piece of property that was dear to him, her kids are now in control […]

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Giving Your Kids a Financial Advantage

July 25, 2014

This morning I was ice skating. My warm up routine consists of doing a series of moves to “feel the ice” and get balanced over two thin skate blades. What does this have to with money? A lot! In a recent meeting with clients who are parents of two teens, one that is in high […]

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How To Save Money and Lose Weight

June 27, 2014

Being a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, I just had my weigh in.   I have successfully kept 30 pounds off since 1988.  In order to lose weight and keep it off, I tracked what I ate.    Even if it was a few M &M’s, a scoop of ice cream and yes, even a bite of […]

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Where Does My Money Go?

June 16, 2014

Does it seem like your money grows wings and flies away?  You had $100 in your wallet and now you have $5 left.  You got a raise, but where did it go? It’s time to take control.  A fundamental habit for financial success is knowing exactly where your money goes.  Everyone has a vague idea […]

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Financial Attitude and Divorce Statistics

April 4, 2014

When I look back at my first marriage, even before I got married there were signs that my intended spouse had financial issues.  Financial issues may be tangible– poor credit, late bills, liens, and other obvious signs.  But some financial issues are intangible- like a poor attitude towards finances.   Most times a poor financial attitude will translate into tangible issues.  […]

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Talking about money before marriage

February 14, 2014

Why I wrote my book:  Frankly, I wish I had a book like this before I got married the first time  to really guide me about money in a relationship.  Here I was a finance major from Kent State University, worked in the brokerage industry, and thought I was pretty financially savvy.    But yet, I married […]

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