Just as a company without a viable operating budget will not last long, the same I believe is true for couples. In fact, the stats show that over 50% of businesses fail within their first 5 years, and over 50% of marriages fail within their first 7 years– coincidence? I think not.
If you don’t have sufficient income to meet your expenses, this is a huge problem, and it will undoubtedly cause a ton of stress in your life. If you are part of a real partnership, there is no need to feel like you have to take this all on yourself. Be honest and communicate your concerns with each other. For your relationship to work, you have to be able to play off each other’s strengths and feel like you are a team with each challenge that arises, and money is a huge one for most families.
Ignoring difficult money talks and/or borrowing from credit are simply delay tactics, not real solutions. Sadly, every day in my divorce cases I have to re-train people to balance their own budgets and live within their means, and often their problems are compounded by years of accumulating debt without any real financial plan in place. Sometimes, bankruptcy (which is the option of last resort) is really is the only option– and the more I have witnessed these financial train wrecks in the last few years, the more adamant I’ve become about trying to change people’s mindsets about money, before it is too late.
When I’m “off the clock,” I try to do my part by teaching my son, and his peers through Junior Achievement, about financial literacy and being fiscally responsible. Hopefully, by learning these key concepts at an early age, they will be more apt to have honest discussions with their life partners about money and maintaining a realistic household budget. As for the grown-ups, I believe it’s never too late to start trying to kick some bad habits. Here’s a helpful link to my recent interview with Peter Kenny of Merrill Lynch about the importance of financial planning for couples:
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.