Your Investments: Happy 18th wedding anniversary: Money and marriage

“My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.” – Winston Churchill

Wedding rings [Illustrative] (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Wedding rings [Illustrative]
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
As I write this, it happens to be my 18th wedding anniversary.
So I will take this opportunity to wish my awesome wife a happy anniversary. Wow, that’s sure cheaper than jewelry! I don’t mention that it’s our anniversary as a cheap way to get a few emails from readers wishing me mazel tov or as a reminder to family members who forgot to wish us a happy anniversary. I think it’s important now and then to focus on couples and their approach to money. After all, many surveys show the No. 1 reason for divorce is money issues.
While he is not exactly my cup of tea, none other than Dr.
Phil says: “It’s this simple: Money can ruin your marriage. In fact, it’s the number one problem in marriages and the number one cause of divorce. People often underestimate the commitment in merging two lives together. The reason we fight most about money is because it’s the most measurable.
Sure, compromises also need to be made when it comes to issues of time, space and affection, but with money, the give and take is quantifiable.”
Pass the salt
A month ago, it was my wife’s birthday, and we went out to dinner. Yes, it’s a very expensive time of the year for me.
While the food and the company was top-notch, one thing really bothered me: Very few of the couples were actually talking to each other. If they were on bad dates, I can understand.
But most of the tables seemed to be full with married couples.
When they weren’t eating, they were sitting with their heads down, thoroughly engrossed in the latest posts on Facebook or a discussion on WhatsApp. The smartphone was the center of attention. It was very sad. After all, you could sit on the couch and not speak to each other. To actually take the time and spend the money to go out to a restaurant and play with your phone the whole evening was depressing.
Gotta talk It’s no secret that men tend to not be the greatest of communicators.
But based on over two decades in the financial- services business, when it comes to money issues, I think the lack of communication is actually a two-way street. Men and women have a very difficult time talking about their finances calmly. Too often the attempt at a discussion quickly turns into the spending blame game.
When two people marry, they are merging two different cultures and approaches to money. That can pose a big challenge. That’s why it’s imperative that the couple get on the same wavelength regarding budgeting and saving issues.
It’s even more important that they start speaking about the future – i.e. goals and retirement planning.
Now is the time
For newlyweds it’s imperative to discuss each one’s financial situation. This means opening up about bank and investment accounts, salaries, debts and loans. They should also start speaking about their short- and long-term financial goals.
I sit with middle-aged couples all of the time, and for the most part, they have never spoken about retirement with each other. I understand that between work, raising children and 1,000 others things that leave us with no time, speaking about what will be in 20 years can easily take a backseat. I don’t believe every couple needs to speak weekly about retirement plans. But once or twice a year, just to make sure that they are both of the same mind-set, is vital. It goes without saying that the closer you get to retirement, the more frequent and the more in-depth these discussions need to be.
It’s not her fault
This exercise is not about gaining the upper hand in the blame game. Speak civilly, and don’t start blaming one another for overspending. It’s common that one person in the relationship may be focused more on saving, while the other does a lot of the family’s spending. This means that from the get-go, there is potential for conflict. That’s why it is so critical to talk these issues out. This way you can get a better understanding of where each person is coming from and reach middle ground to start defining goals and agree to a spending plan that will enable you to achieve your dream retirement.
This helps create a team-like approach to handling money.
If the couple works as a team, then there will be more discipline on the spending side, which will free up money to go into savings. It will also pave the way to a much better marriage!
The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc., or its affiliates.
Aaron Katsman is a licensed financial professional in Israel and the United States who helps people with US investment accounts. He is the author of the book Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing.