Don't let financial woes break the bank -- or your heart!
So you've met the love of your life and have settled down. Or perhaps you're planning a splashy wedding, expecting your first child, or buying a chic house together. Life is fantabulous!
The trick is keeping it that way. Money matters are the number one cause of separation and divorce in North America and you can avoid heartache by learning how to merge, manage, and grow your finances together.
Bestselling author Lesley-Anne Scorgie helps couples build a powerful financial, personal, and professional foundation by following these seven steps to build wealth together:
Get on the same page Scrap your emotions and sort out your accounts Curb overspending Get the hell out of debt Own the walls you live in Invest like a pro Design your master money plan Whether you're rich, poor, or just getting by, The Modern Couple's Money Guide will show you the key steps needed to reach your financial potential together.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1Get on the Same Page
Chapter 2The Drivers of Net Worth
Chapter 3Scrap Your Emotions and Sort out Your Accounts
Chapter 4Curb Overspending
Chapter 5Get the Hell Out of Debt
Chapter 6Own the Walls You Live In
Chapter 7Invest Like a Pro 1.0: Be Yourself
Chapter 8Invest Like a Pro 2.0: Use the Right Plans
Chapter 9Invest Like a Pro 3.0: Ready, Set, Go
Chapter 10Invest Like a Pro 4.0: How to Make Money with Stocks
Chapter 11Design Your Master Money Plan
First Chapter or Excerpt
Sarah called me a few years ago to tell me that she and her husband,Thomas, weren't doing so well. Through her sobbing, I learned thatThomas had started to move his stuff out. Sarah was hysterical -- six yearsof marriage were crumbling beneath her. After years of lavish living and serious overspending, Sarah andThomas were up to their eyeballs in debt. Though they made a healthycombined income of $95,000, they were falling behind on car, creditcard, loan, and rent payments. They shared one luxury vehicle, lived in anice-sized condo in a hip area, shopped for expensive clothes, and took anexotic vacation each year. They had no savings. For the majority of their marriage, Thomas had managed thefinances. His philosophy was "live now, pay later." It wasn't until Sarah'scredit card was declined at the grocery store that she had any clue theywere maxed out. Sarah quickly pulled her head out of the sand and confronted Thomas.Together they worked their way through stacks of unopened bills and lettersfrom collections agencies. Learning they were $45,000 in debt andhad no assets to their name meant long arguments. The blame gamestarted and resentment built quickly. Sarah interpreted Thomas's financial mismanagement as a demonstrationof disrespect, lack of care, and misjudgment. Sarah also blamedThomas for controlling their finances and thus trying to control her. Shehad blindly put her trust in Thomas's financial capabilities and, accordingto her, he'd broken that trust. From Thomas's perspective, Sarah's lack of interest in their financesmeant she didn't care much about their future. Often, he'd felt it necessaryto make Sarah happy by spending money on expensive trips, meals,and clothes for her. He felt that she demanded this lifestyle. As well, she'dnever helped out with the money management responsibilities. The more they fought about the meaning behind their financial situation,the less they focused on actually resolving the problem. I've seen couples just like Sarah and Thomas head straight for divorcecourt far too often. Their story is a common one: lack of healthy boundaries,such as spending limits, poor communication, and few skills to helpthem manage their money. For Sarah and Thomas, a few simple lifestyle changes were necessaryto alleviate the immediate financial pressure on their marriage. They hadto sell their BMW, stick to a budget, and negotiate repayment terms withtheir lenders, all the while working to rebuild trust in each other. It tookover a year, but eventually Sarah and Thomas got on the same financialpage and stayed together. MONEY AND EMOTION Money issues are rarely just about money. Rather,they may represent much deeper issues such ascontrol, independence, dependence, greed, trust,power, self-confidence, respect, and commitment.No wonder money breaks up so many relationships! How you and your partner think, feel, and actabout money is a reflection of your deeply rootedvalue systems. That's why spats over money boil down to the "meaning" ofthe financial choices each of you makes. Take, for example, a couple in which one partner is working theirtail off while the other is unemployed and not making a concerted effortto find work. The income earner may conclude that their partner is lazy,just like the rest of his or her family. Meanwhile, the unemployed partnermay require a period of rest and regrouping after being fired or laidoff from their recent job. On the surface, it appears that this couple is struggling with one partner'sunemployment. But issues of work ethic and rehabilitation are inplay. To avoid relationship breakdown, both people in the couple need tounderstand and respect where the other is coming from. START TALKING You and your partner have developed attitudes toward money throughchildhood, school, culture, friends, careers, and trial and error. In someinstances, you'll have had great role models in your parents. In others,your partner will have experienced a financially catastrophic event likebankruptcy or divorce. The following sections will help you and yourpartner think about your personal views on money and where theycame from. I recommend you work through these questions together.Do not "pass go" until you've ironed out major discrepancies -- trust me,they'll resurface if you don't. If you and your partner fight a lot, you need to establish some groundrules. In fact, the simple Sparks motto, "I promise to share and be a friend"will do the trick (FYI -- "Sparks" graduate to Brownies and then becomefull-fledged Girl Guides). That, and: Respect each other's views Be patient Be kind Be truthful No yelling If you run into problems, get some help from a professional moneycoach, who will help you develop financial skill and work with you todesign a financial plan for your future together, or you could even go to arelationship counsellor. You may find it easier to split this chapter up andaddress just one issue at a time. DREAMS Marty and Linda just got engaged. They're planning a wedding, a housepurchase, future children, and the rest of their lives. Their biggest roadblockis that Marty just lost his job and the economic forecast isn't lookingtoo hot for his line of work. Linda currently works to support theirlifestyle. But money is really tight and causing arguments between them. Marty and Linda have some big, and very natural, dreams for their lifetogether. But with every dream come the hurdles and challenges associatedwith accomplishing it -- in their case, Marty's unemployment. Navigatingthrough good and bad times is part of building a healthy relationship. That'swhy it's helpful to discuss your dreams, how you're going to make them happen,and the "what-if" scenarios. Don't just assume that you're both workingtoward the same goals. Start this conversation by addressing the following: Describe a day-in-the-life of "us" five, ten, and twenty-fiveyears from now. Where do you want to live? When do you want to retire? Do you want to travel? If so, where to? What type of job(s) do you want to have? What types of activities are you involved in? Do you want to achieve something extraordinary? How did you do? Are your dreams aligned? Don't worry if it feelslike your dreams of owning a vacation home in Florida seem out of reachtoday. A rock-solid financial plan will be the compass you need to getthere ... and will also be the gauge of how realistic your dreams are. I'llhelp you build your plan in chapter 11, Design Your Master Money Plan. Excerpted from The Modern Couple's Money Guide: 7 Smart Steps to Building Wealth Together by Lesley-Anne Scorgie All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.