This past week-end, my partner and I had another heated argument about my kids. I guess when they are yours, you don’t get as annoyed with the little things, but when they are not; YOU DO! This blended family thing is a lot tougher than I expected! Anyway, I was pretty upset so I grabbed my iPod and my dog (always take the dog, it adds purpose!), and went for a loooong walk to try to clear my mind. As I was thinking about my current situation, I wandered off to the land of “what if this is not meant to be”? What if we call it quits and go our separate ways or give up on the blended family thing while my kids still live with me? It’s tough enough to be the only parent, I don’t need the extra aggravation. And then it dawned on me. Wow! Am I ever “lucky” I have the choice! Being financially independent is allowing me to consider all options in my life. But how many people out there don’t have that option, how many don’t have a clue about their family finances? Is money keeping you in a bad relationship?
Your Spouse Controls The Money And You Are Left In The Dark!
Often, in a relationship, one spouse will handle the family finances, it may make it easier to keep track of all bills and payment. But it doesn’t mean the other one should be left in the dark. Maybe you don’t care or maybe you don’t understand anything finance related so you are just happy your spouse is doing it all. Maybe your partner is controlling and doesn’t like to share that information with you and, so far, you were fine with it. But what if your relationship starts falling apart, what if you decide it’s time to move on? What are your options then if you have no clue what is going on with your family finances? Hopefully you are not in this situation but if you are, you probably should:
- Start getting involved. Sit down regularly with your spouse to go over everything money. How much do you bring in as a family? Where is the money going? Where is the money invested? Are all accounts joints or only under your spouse’s name. How about your house, your car? Make sure you understand everything.
- Start building or improving your credit score. Apply for your own credit card if you don’t have one already, even if you only use it once in a while.
- Open your own saving’s account, even if you only deposit a little at a time.
- EDUCATE YOURSELF! Learn the basics about money management. There are so many free resources out there: Public libraries have tons of books on personal finance, Personal Finance blogs, even the Canadian Government has a site about Money and Finances. You can check out their Financial Literacy Programs which include a Financial Toolkit and a Financial Basics Workshop (not all Canada specific).
The last thing you want to do is to be stuck in a bad relationship because of MONEY!
You Control The Money And It’s All YOURS!
A few years ago, I had a colleague who would always complain about his wife. He was in late 50’s getting ready to retire. I don’t know exactly how much his net worth was but probably over 1 million, he was also eligible for a government pension (from previous employment there) and CPP (Canada Pension Plan). Once in a while I would ask him: if you are so unhappy, why don’t you leave her ? His answer was always the same: I would have to give her half my money!! Wow really! He was so worried about his net worth that he chose a life of misery with more money over a happy life with half of it . And was it HIS money anyway? His wife stayed at home most of her life to raise their three kids! My only advice for those of you who feel this way about money and your relationship:
Life is too short, split the money and go enjoy what life has to offer!
You Both Agree You Can’t Afford To Go Your Separate Ways!
It could be for several reasons; Not enough income, one wants to keep the family home, too many debts, whatever the reason is: you think you can’t afford to go your separate ways. Add kids to the mix and it seems easier to just stay together. It’s a tough decision. What can you do?
Some couples decide to stay under the same roof with separate quarters but I can’t imagine that would be easy. I heard of others who keep the family home (if they have kids) and rent/buy a small condo somewhere close by. Then the parents take turn staying with the kids in the family home. Wow! Talk about family commitment! But not really good if you want to move on!
So What Are Your Options?
- Go through your expenses with a fine tooth comb and eliminate all the fat. You may have a lot more of it than you think. Are your expenses needs or wants? Wants have to go!
- Downgrade your house. I know it’s tough but the best decision may be to sell the family home, yes the one where you kids grew up and where you created all those fond memories. You will make new ones somewhere else and your kids will get over it.
- Start putting money aside regularly in separate accounts, assuming you only had joint accounts.
- Take a mature approach to your situation and try to come up with a solution together. One that will take care of the money but also allow you to move on. Sharing a house with your ex is not going to do that!
Money shouldn’t hold you back! Life is too short!
How Do I Manage Money In My Relationship?
My partner and I, because we met later in life and don’t have kids together, keep all of our finances separate, except for the house expenses. What’s his is his, what’s mine is mine ! It doesn’t have to be that way but it was the right decision for us. It is hard to blend all your money when you meet someone later in life and are already financially independent. You want to be very careful with your decisions and protect what you have worked so hard for.
Love is wonderful but it doesn’t always last forever. People change! (But some do live happily ever after)
I am not saying once the money problem goes away you should “jump ship” as soon as things get off track in your relationship. Building a strong relationship does require some work (sometimes a lot!) . But at least if you are not successful in fixing your relationship, going your separate ways becomes a viable option.
How about you, did money ever keep you in a bad relationship? How do you manage your family finances to make sure money never becomes an issue?