Thursday, June 14, 2007

The last taboo

A thought's been kicking around in my head for a few weeks since I read an interesting article on how financial compatibility is becoming increasingly important in modern relationships.

It can be hard to think that issues such as personal finance could creep into matters of the heart, but the older (wiser?) I get, the more I realize that they do.

Myself, I'm a saver. I have been since I was a little kid. Chances are, if you gave me $5 when I was 10, I'd have run to the corner store to buy two freezies for $1, and put the other $9 in my piggy bank, waiting for something really cool to come along. Now that I'm in my twenties, that urge to save hasn't left me. Watching my high-interest savings account creep upwards with every automatic deposit brings me no end of pleasure, thinking of the power it will provide me with a few year down the line. But hey -- that's me.

In the article, the writer puts forth the contention that it just makes sense to consider financial compatibility when choosing a long-term -- or possibly even short-term -- partner. Not that it's something you'd want to bring up on, say, a first date or anything, but really, the nagging thoughts you have when you notice that she burns through cash like it's going out of style (or you think he's a tightwad because of his refusal to use white-label ATMs, for that matter) are just as important as any of the other big questions we feel free to ask each other later on. If it bothers you now, I'm pretty sure it'll bother you even more when you're paying off that Visa bill yourself in ten years' time.

Views on religion can push or break couples apart. As can differing sex drives. Likewise views on having children. Or which city they want to ultimately settle in. Ditto how often they want to drink and go out with friends. If all those things are deal-breakers, I don’t really see why it's cold or callous to suggest that somebody who either has a completely different view on money -- or worse, doesn't think about it -- might not be your ideal mate. But for some, it still seems impolite to talk about. Money really is the last taboo.

My own situation is fairly good in that regard. I seem to have exposed the diligent little saver that was trapped inside my sig other's body, and it only took a few rants about the miracle of compound interest to do it :) I definitely know singles and couples who don't have it nearly as good as I do.

It's a cliché, but it's true: If one's a saver, and one's a spender, there's likely trouble ahead.

Which is what I'll be sure to tell my buds the next time any of them ask me "what's the deal" with my cute, cash-burning single female friends.


Mr. Cheap said...

I'm going through this right now (I'm more of a saver then my girlfriend).

Its pretty tough when everything clicks except the money issue...

GIV said...

Wish I had some advice then. All I've learnt is: trust your gut.

You gut knows if something is a problem, and if it is, chances are it knows how big a problem it is -- if it's a deal-breaker or something that can be worked through.