Finances and Fiancés: Relationship Advice From the Celt

Everybody knows the facts.  40% of all first marriages end in divorce.  Interestingly enough, there is a lot of evidence to support the idea that those statistics were created rather than found.  However, communication is still one of the largest downfalls to any relationship.  Money tends to be pretty high on that list of incommunicado.  Personally, I support open dialogue of how many dollar bills I have with the Lady Celt.  I also love talking about money in general – much to her chagrin.

So how do couples in a relationship broach the topic of money?  Knowing it can be very difficult for many people, I’d like to step in and offer support.  Today, I’d like to talk about how Lady Celt and I mince through the finance topic.  It’s not always easy, but it’s (mostly) worth it.

Financial Relationship Goals

Lady Celt and I talk about money usually about once a week – a quick recap.  We also tend to talk about once a month (usually near when I do the monthly financial checkup) about what happened and where we might need to cut back.  Sometimes once a quarter, but always at least twice a year, we talk about what money means to us.  By that I mean what it buys us: vacations, standard of living, dream conquering.

In our relationship, probably unsurprisingly, I handle the money.  I pay the bills, I run the retirement accounts, I pick the credit cards, etc.  It’s not that she couldn’t.  It’s that I prefer to do it and she, well, doesn’t.  I guess you could say that she’s a lady in the street and I’m a freak in the balance sheets.  This is the thing though, I’m very open with my decisions and spreadsheets.  Every business partnership agreement contains a clause that allows any partner at any time to view the accounts and financials.  All I’ve done is apply that to our personal relationship.  If she says “why?” I tell her why.  If she says “what” I show her my spreadsheets.  For the most part, she trusts that I’m doing the correct thing.  The only time she questions me is when she thinks we had more or less in the accounts.

Relationship Acrobating Kissing - Cash Flow Celt

Relationship Goals

Your relationship may require a split work load.  One of you may work the books, while the other pays the bills.  That’s fine.  Talk about each other’s preferences, and the rest of it should fall into place.

Celt’s Split Their Money

The previous section probably made you think we have a mutual account.  And we do – we have one.  That joint account is only to transfer money between her and I and generally never has more than about $500 in it.  I have my own personal IRA and checking account and she has her own checking account.  I know how much is in hers and she mine; however, her money is HER money.  My money is also her money – or so it seems.  I dunno, some things aren’t worth fighting over.

That said, we split expenses.  Not 50/50 though.  That wouldn’t be fair at all as I make drastically more (about 75% of our total income).  So, she pays me “rent” each month that totals 25% of our expenses.  Our expenses stay pretty flat though with very little monthly variation.  When our expenses exceed what they usually do, it’s usually my fault due to advertising costs of my business.  I eat that and don’t pass it on to her.  Consequently, she just pays me a flat fee that doesn’t change from month to month.

I believe it’s important to have separation.  A lot of my belief behind this is protective in nature.  Lady Celt is not, necessarily, reliant on me.  Financially, she’s obviously better off as I make more; however, she’s not bound to me.  That means, for whatever reason that is, she sticks around on her own accord.  It also provides her own discretionary income.  I do coach her on how to manage her budget, but it’s her decision when she ignores me.  If she wants to spend $80 at Target on wicker storage baskets and random home goods that I would never consent to using, so be it.  You do you girl.

Conclusion

One final note, when you get serious with your boy/girl, you need to have a money talk.  Talk about your debts and assets that you both own.  It’s important.  You can’t hide something like delinquent credit card debt, a home foreclosure, how much you pay in child support from your significant other.  It’s not fair, for one.  It also creates a whole host of other problems that arise in bad situations; like when you and beau are trying to obtain credit as a couple.

Money and love isn’t a one size fits all.  If my solutions work for you, that’s fantastic!  If not, it’s more important that you and your significant other started talking dollars and cents.  Understanding how you both view money is an important tool in warding off unnecessary fights.  I’ve always been open about money.  Even in the bad times.  Actually, more in the bad times.  The less money Lady Celt and I had the more conversations about money we had.  Ten years in, our relationship is certainly better for it.

Celts, do you and your partner have open talks about money?  What advice do you have to avoid infighting about the bills?  Be sure to let me know in the comments below.  If you like my material, be sure to like me on Facebook by clicking here and subscribe to the newsletter!  If you’re looking to buy or sell real estate in Central Florida, be sure to check me out here.

Related links:

Financial Literacy, budgeting, investing at a young age

Cash Flow Celt

I'm just a local business and finance nerd looking to help people get educated about small business, marketing, and personal finance! I write about anything and everything that I can tie into those themes. I'm also Central Florida's only Kilted Realtor, so I write about Real Estate too! Check out my About Me page to see the origins of Cash Flow Celt.

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8 Responses

  1. Lisa says:

    We split things based on income too, a 2/3 +1/3 split in our case. Rent was a number that seemed fair based on market comparison. I often wonder how things will work out if the relationship lasts long enough to see my career change drastically with kids. I like your advice!

    Gotta love those storage baskets though.

    • Thanks for stopping by Lisa! Maybe you can pull double duty and put the children IN the wicker baskets? At least then there is a purpose for buying the basket in the first place.

      Anecodtally, I notice a huge change generationally. Millennials, like us, are very keen on equity. You and I both split our expenses as a function of income and keep our financial identities. Gen X is likely to have their own accounts as well, but keep finances separated – I pay mine, you pay yours. Baby boomers, in my experience, are the most likely to just combine incomes and make it more mi casa, su casa type plan.

      Everybody wins as long as everybody is happy!

  2. Cathy Colangelo says:

    Loved this article. Congratulations on your financial agreements. As for me, money has never been all that important in my life or relationships. What has been important is that my partner and I agree on what money is for. By that I mean we agree on what we want to use it for and how hard we want to work for it. Over 40 years, my priorities (and partners) have changed several times. I love the baskets too. That’s because one of my “financial priorities” has always been making my nest organized and livable. However, over the years, HOW I go about doing that has changed. For example, I now seldom buy anything new. Either what I get is used for what I want to pay or I don’t “need” it. My biggest characteristic money-wise is that I don’t need much. I’d rather focus my life on personal growth and happiness. Things are a waste of time. But that’s just me because I have never found money (or the things it can buy) to be the answer to anything important in my life — beyond the basics of food and shelter. That I insist on covering.

    • Money is a tool – no different than a car, a a knife, or even a word. It can be a weapon, a support system, or just a means to an end. Its funny you mention that money can’t buy things beyond food or shelter. Yet, money can buy personal growth. It can buy books for self-help, vacations to experience cultures around the world, and even local musuems or theme parks to spend a day with grand kids.

      None of those are in and of themselves necessary, but they certainly provide happiness to varying degrees.

  3. George Colangelo says:

    Great article!

  4. Love the article. Having an open concept on your finances leaves little room for problems and more room to focus on the vision. Also, it is great that you allow your wife to have her own little empire and not using your income to create a box around her. She is free to live, love and BUY (lol) with the backing of having a husband that gives great financial advice. Great article!

    • Thanks for stopping by Shanika! Money is such a problem for couples, but transparency can erase a lot of those woes. Money is to big of a deal to people to keep it in the closet! Thanks for the comment.

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