How to Find Love (and Money)
Choosing a life partner is a huge financial decision
Seeing as how Valentine's day is right around the corner, I thought I’d share some lessons my parents taught me about finding someone to spend the rest of my life with, from a money perspective. I'm really only qualified to talk about my own experiences, so that's what this post is really about.
If you follow all the concepts and strategies on this website, I'm so confident that you will be so successful in building wealth, that you're going to attract all kinds of people throughout your life. Because of that, I want to share some basic lessons my parents taught me about how to handle money in a relationship, navigate people and find a life partner.
I was taught by my parents at a very young age that our relationship with money is so important throughout life that it’s one of the core pillars of our long term relationship. It's one of the things that a couple needs to be on the same page about.
If you follow me on social media (@ben.garden), you may know I’ve been happily married for a few years now, but I’d like to share my thought process that went into finding that special someone.
My wife and I got married in 2016. We invited 150 of our closest friends and family to celebrate. We paid for the event ourselves by planning ahead, budgeting and prioritizing - all the stuff I write about on this website.
I just read this article the other day from the Financial Post about financial infidelity in relationships. In a small poll of Canadians, 36% admitted to having lied to their partner about money. Do you talk to your partner about money? Do you know how many credit cards they have, if they have debt, if they have savings, if they invest - and what are their plan is for the future?
Money is often such a private topic that it doesn’t always come up when you meet someone. Because of the social stigma, it's usually not discussed, usually inferred and most often overlooked. As time goes on and we get to know someone it should really be a factor when deciding if they are your life partner.
I would want to know if the person I was dating had bad spending habits, owed money, debt etc... These are all factors that go into knowing someone, just like personality, social habits, mindset and physical attraction.
Why don’t we talk about it?
People's spending habits are pretty easy to spot early on. Just like how physical attraction, and personality are real factors for most people, I saw someone who had their financials in order as equally important. Having the equivalent of a financial six pack means stability, forethought and an understanding of the system we all live in.
Yes, we all live in an economic system, no matter if you believe it or not.
Getting to know people's money habits told me a lot about the person's mindset, thought process, emotional capacity, self control etc... a whole slew of things important to other aspects of the relationship.
All couples handle their financials differently.
I don't agree with everything Kevin O'Leary says, but I do like the way he describes the importance of keeping your own financial identity in a relationship quite succinctly in this clip - check it out (2 min.):
Some couples join all their accounts, some keep separate accounts, and some do a hybrid of the two. In my experience, they all work, I find it's more important to pick a strategy that you both feel works for your relationship.
How my wife and I manage finances
When I first met my wife, I felt pretty confident that we were of the same mindset - that is in terms of saving vs spending money. We both allocate a large percentage of our income into investing every month.
We have separate accounts (i.e we don’t share a joint account, nor a credit card). She has her expenses, I have mine. I don’t monitor her accounts or credit card bills, and she doesn’t monitor mine. We split shared expenses like rent, utilities, food, gifts etc... We’re secure enough with ourselves and each other to know we’re on the same team, and working towards the same financial goals.
But how do I know she isn't buying frivolous things behind my back? Wasting money? How does she know I'm not buying stupid electronics or gizmos?
Because of the method we use to save and invest (automate your savings and the blueprint of what I did), we know exactly how much we’re saving and investing every month guaranteed. It all happens before we can even spend out money on expenses. In other words, all of our expenses are paid after we’ve paid ourselves first which alleviates the pressure, scrutiny and guilt of how we’re choosing to spend our own money.
I'm a huge advocate for living free. I need to feel free otherwise I will get depressed and feel, well.... trapped. This works perfectly for us because we are both free to spend all of our money according to our own priorities. We invest in our future first, then expenses to live, and then the rest is play money, which includes giving gifts or donations.
Just a few weeks ago I made a comment, jokingly, about the all the new clothes my wife had bought, she responded with the fact that I was planning on buying a drone - which is true, our priorities are our own to define.
From what I hear, financial infidelity starts from the simple fact that in a relationship each couple inherently places different values on what they want to spend their money on. New clothes vs electronics vs travel vs going out etc... It's quite difficult to genuinely put ourselves in the other person's shoes and truly understand why they value things differently, which often causes friction, conflict, miscommunication and financial infidelity.
Having said that - everyone's situation is different, for instance, single income vs dual income families. I can really only speak of my own situation.
When I first met my wife...
We were both students with debt and no real income. I observed early on she was pretty money conscious, didn’t overly spend, and liked to pay for half the dates. While I would have happily paid for all the dates (chivalry and all), she always wanted to share the cost of everything - and I kind of liked that. We are equals after all.
When we first met I never talked about saving/investing, I didn’t dress all that well and I was much more frugal back in the day. I didn't really reveal the fact that I was investing my student loan to turn it into a profit after graduating, it actually wasn't on my mind all that much, it was sort of just this thing I did. In fact, I’m not exactly sure what my wife saw in me back then, which made me feel kind of great because I knew she liked me for me, I wasn’t really broadcasting that much else.
My parents taught me that when you have money, it’s so much harder to find true love.
The simple nature of when you have something people want, it’s genuinely hard to figure out if they like you because of you, or because of what they can get out of you.
They had seen enough cases where acquaintances were a little too flashy with their money, got married and divorced soon after, ruining them emotionally and financially.
In my opinion, if you truly want to know someone's intention, its best to remove all the other distractions, and money is a huge distraction for a lot of people. Living beyond your means conveys the wrong message - you're saying you're well off, you have disposable income, and you like to spend it at the drop of a hat.
So, find love when you're poor.
Why she was different
She never really impulse bought anything. More importantly, she was confident and secure enough with who she was as a person to resist brand names and the urge to buy status through material things. This is huge, and is a constant fight in modern society.
It takes a really strong personality to resist the constant bombardment of advertising and societal influences. In my opinion, this was the hardest trait for me to find in a partner.
I’ve seen so many people get brainwashed into thinking that spending money on status symbols makes them more attractive. The punch line is that there are always bigger and better status symbols with bigger and better price tags - it's an economic machine designed to trick you out of your money.
When I went out into the world to date, I found that on average the people who wore their money on the outside had rotten financials on the inside. i.e. they spent all their money on looking attractive and didn’t save anything or plan ahead for the future.
I notice that people attract what they're broadcasting out to the world, so if they're flashy they are going to attract someone who likes the flash.
I had zero interest in ending up with someone who had money - in fact I was more concerned about ending up with the wrong kind of person - someone who was really just looking for money that they could spend. Or worse yet, someone who came from a wealthy family, who was spoiled and had never learned the value of money.
My parents always said there were all different kinds of people out there, and some literally just out to latch on to someone who’s going somewhere in life.
It’s a very real thing - if you think dating is hard, imagine adding in the fact that the person has an alternative motive the entire time. It causes trust issues on top of everything and makes the process much more difficult. It's why children of successful families have to be very careful when they meet people, or why celebrities are very selective on who they're with.
Figuring out peoples' true intentions is tricky business.
My humble opinion
Find love before you make your riches. When you're poor it's easier to find someone who loves you for you. Be genuinely yourself because you’ll attract someone based on what you’re putting out into the universe. If you’re flashy with your money, you’ll attract someone who likes flashy things. It's best to remove distractions and show your true self, that way you’ll attract someone who likes... you.
TL:DR - Find love when you're poor. If you're already building real wealth, then genuinely be yourself, you attract what you put out into the universe. Get to know someone over time before making a life long decision. Remember to consider someone's financial habits (good or bad) when choosing a partner.
If you found this post interesting - send it to someone who needs it! They will thank you for it later in life.