Money with Mia

Musicians have always wrote ballads and sung lyrics about money and love. The usual punch line is, “Money won’t make you happy. Love will make you happy.”But what happens when you have love, but money becomes a central tension in your relationship?

“Mo money more problems.”
-Notorious BIG

“Chaperons and limousines, shoppn’ for expensive things.”
“Now I ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger, but she ain’t messin’ wit no broke.”

“I’ll give you all I got togive if you say you love me too, I may not have a lot to give but what I got I’ll give to you
I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.”
-The Beatles.

“The best things in life are free
But you can give them to the birds and bees
I want money
Yo love gives me such a thrill
But your love won’t pay my bills
I want money”
-The Flying Lizards

Musicians have always wrote ballads and sung lyrics about money and love. The usual punch line is, “Money won’t make you happy. Love will make you happy.” But what happens when you have love, but money becomes a central tension in your relationship? Today, I examine several ways to keep your relationship healthy. Before I divulge, I must confess as a single woman, the the majority of my research for this article came from my friends who are in serious relationships.

Couples argue. A LOT! Even the ones who are most in love, argue several times a week. Usually, these disputes can be settled fairly quickly and reasonably. But, sometimes the arguments are about more intense topics like: How to spend one’s own money? How to spend a significant other’s mother? How to manage money? How much money is needed to live a certain life style?

Speaking to many friends I have realized that a lot of the problems with money come from the fact that many couples have different views on how they perceive the value of a dollar. Often times these views are developed from childhood-watching a parent handle money a certain way, or growing up in a certain environment where money is cherished, spent excessively, saved religiously, or downplayed. Individuals should never expect their significant other to have the same thoughts on money. Below are a few tips to keep money from ruining your relationship.

Girls like to talk. But why don’t they talk about money?
Ahh, many of my guy friends complain about this one. As a couple, it is crucial to communicate financial aspirations and goals. Sounds like a piece of cake, but extremely difficult to implement mainly because scientific studies show that females don’t like to talk about money to their significant other. One way to improve communication is to have the “money talk” every week or so when each person discusses their lifestyle needs and desires and how to budget for purchases both on a short-term basis (groceries) and long-term basis (mortgage).

Money doesn’t buy love.
I’ve seen this happen too many times.Hot Female likes Okay-Looking Guy. Hot Female not really attracted to Okay-Looking guy. Hot Female marries Okay-Looking guy. Why? Because, he has money usually in the form of a steady paycheck or inheritance. Don’t underestimate financial compatibility. Before you get involved with someone take a look at who they are, and whether or not they will be able to contribute to your overall happiness and value system because of the person they are, NOT because of the Benjamins in their bank account.

Self-worth is not Financial-worth.
Couples who have money problems know their problems are seldom about money. Instead they usually are about more powerful issues such as insecurity, power, and fear. Once the individual learns how to tackle these bigger more personal issues, they will be more secure by the zeros on their paycheck.

Don’t play the Blame Game. Play the CFO Game.
Inevitably, when there are disputes over bills, couples like to play the blame game. If you only you didn’t spend money on another round at Tommy Doyle’s or if only you learned how to dye your own hair instead of splurging at the salon. Pointing fingers will not resolve the argument. Instead, designate a relationship CFO. I believe in equal partnership, so if you are married or in a serious relationship I suggest for the first six months have one person who will be the CFO in the relationship. This person will manage the finances, write checks, pay bills, and amend the budget as needed. After six months, the other person wears the CFO hat. Appointing a CFO in the relationship will also make the relationship a little more even and transparent, especially if one person makes more money than the other person. It allows the person who makes less to feel like he/she has control of the financial situation.

All in all, keep in mind that love is more important than money. Remember to keep things in perspective by being honest and open with your significant other about money issues. In the long run, it will pay off!

Your HBS Money Honey,
Mia Saini

October 5, 2009
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