When Love Messes with Your Finances
In the words of Bob Marley, “no woman, no cry”. One of my good friends recently used these words to describe his views on the impact that relationships can sometimes have on a man’s financial status. And while his intent was to be humorous, many men echo his sentiment.
Money does indeed play an important role in all relationships, from the burgeoning romance to the solid-as-a-rock marriage. Be it the girl or boy you are trying to impress or the loved one who just needed “a little assistance”, the feeling that love is more important than money is usually very strong. Or is it?
Personally I choose money because love can’t fill your stomach at the end of the month. Now don’t get me wrong, I do think that there are some things that are more important than money, but something as difficult to define, illusive and mind-numbing as love can sometimes cloud ones judgment.
“The same women who battle for equal treatment as men would shudder at the thought of paying for everything on a date”
Although women say chivalry is dead, and despite the fact that women now have comparable salaries to that of men, it is still customary for the man to pay for things more often than not. Be it dinner and a movie, shopping for clothes or even buying tickets for a party, society expects a certain financial commitment from the man in the relationship. It’s the norm for the man to pay for everything, and any man who doesn’t follow the status quo is chastised and emasculated. The same women who battle for equal treatment as men would shudder at the thought of paying for everything on a date all the time. Songs like Gwen Guthrie’s – “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ on But the Rent” in which she clearly states “No romance without finance”, and TLC’s “No Scrubs” have been anthems for women for years, but my free thinking and progressive mind won’t allow me to settle for such an unfair characterization. I prefer the general rule of – whoever asks the other out, pays. Anything else would be sexist and discriminatory, and who am I to set back decades of women’s rights activism? Ent?
However, it can go both ways. From spending large amounts of money on phone calls to buying gifts for holidays and birthdays, this can leave a significant dent on your bank account. Whoever said, “the best things in life are free” must have been single. Granted while you’re in the relationship and everything is going well, you don’t really think of how much you’re spending. I mean you love the person, so it’s worth it right? However, if or when the relationship crashes, that’s when you sit there, beating up yourself for spending so much money on that guy or girl, and having nothing to show for it except a broken heart or, in some cases, a deranged mind.
“‘Lend me some money please’ can be a steel trap waiting to close in”
Then there’s the famous loan, and the words “babes lend me some money nuh”. The word loan, is sometimes ambiguous in this scenario, and means different things to different people in a relationship, leading to be a point of conflict. “Lend me some money please” can be a steel trap waiting to close in on the hard-earned cash of anyone not careful enough to survey the land before proceeding. Whether it be a husband and wife, parent and child or sibling transaction, Dave Ramsey’s rule of thumb, “Never lend what you can’t afford to give away” should always be kept in mind. But again it is expected or rather decreed by societal norms that one must part with their money to help a loved one in need. I think it’s only fair that I get something in exchange for the money I lend you. If you know you can’t pay me back, then ask me to “give” you the money and give me the option of saying yes or no. This also applies to parent-child loans. It’s difficult to justify not paying back the people who took care of you when you couldn’t take care of yourself, and that sense of duty can weigh heavily on the wallet.
Trust obviously plays a key role in the lender agreeing to part with his or her funds, and while I’m not saying to be ‘stingy’ with your loved ones, I would offer some words of caution, especially to those who are in the early stages of getting to know someone. I have heard stories of people lending large amounts of money to people they’ve only been seeing for a few weeks, and when they don’t get what they’re owed, and the other person disappears from their life, it does leave you a bit poorer, and much more embarrassed.
For persons in more steady relationships, there are instances where pooling your resources together as a couple do make sense. The high cost of food, tuition, rent and just about everything else does initially make it seem advantageous to pool incomes, and there are times when this is absolutely required – for example, buying a home or building a nest egg for your family. In most cases, it requires both parties to change their spending habits and financial style and this can be a tumultuous teething period. Gone are the days of spending on luxury items like jewellery, clothes or video games. Your money now has two masters, and if either party refuses to accept that fact then it can be devastating to the relationship. Not only do you gain the advantages of the other person’s income, but you also inherit their debts and the word love can be used as a skeleton key to unlock all your savings.
“When things don’t work out and the relationship splits, your investment can go down the drain faster than stock in CLICO”
This wouldn’t be such an issue if you have a long and happy marriage, but what about when you separate? When things don’t work out and the relationship splits, your investment can go down the drain faster than stock in CLICO after the global market crash, and there isn’t any safety net called break-up insurance. The risks are even greater when you are just living together, and it is probably best to keep a small portion of your income in a separate account for savings and personal uses because you might not be able to go with half of the fridge, the stove or the TV.
Many marriages end because of money problems, and sadly many money problems begin when the marriage ends. Child support and maintenance is an unfortunate reality for many a divorce, and can affect future relationships, especially when the facility is abused. In fact, it can often cost more to get out of the relationship rather than to stay. It’s not that I don’t like the idea of marriage, but with the large percentage of failed marriages out there I’m tempted to look into a pre-nuptial agreement to save me some post-nuptial headaches. I, for one, would want custody of my kids, and more than that make the woman pay child support and maintenance.
With all these factors to consider it’s no wonder that more people are choosing to remain single these days. A relationship can be difficult enough as it is, but when you throw the monetary aspect into the mix, it can be a daunting prospect. Still, for some the risks are worth the rewards, and the benefits justify the financial investment. Either way, it cannot be denied that there is definitely a correlation, and one should be mindful to not let love mess with your paper. Regardless of your relationship stage, the simple rule of avoiding commitments, purchases or loans you cannot afford will help to keep you on the right financial track.