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For Love or Money?

   Posted On: September 23, 2013  |    Posted In: Love and Money  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

For Love or Money? An age-old questions and a classic chick flick from the early 90s starring Michael J. Fox. The aptly entitled movie questions should you pursue your career/ambitions/wealth or give it up for the love of your life? It’s a chick flick, I’m sure you can guess the dramatic ending. I believe a horse, the Brooklyn Bridge and a frantic run after a cab all provided the backdrop for a dramatic declaration of love. Or am I confusing this movie with the other 30+ chick flicks based in New York? As a woman on the more realist than romantic end of the spectrum, I’ve often wondered “for love or money?”

My tolerant boyfriend who lets me spout on-and-on about money.

Money and love are firmly intertwined, after all, you can’t survive on love alone. Even the proposal, in the American culture, is sealed with a display of wealth. So, how much should we factor money into a relationship? Money is a leading cause of divorce, so I say we should make money a priority well before marriage or domestic partnerships.

The average millennial is in debt, so it’s a safe assumption that the person you’re meeting for drinks, thanks to your OK Cupid profile because you’re too frugal for, probably has tens of thousands of dollars owed to various lenders. Perhaps you’re bringing $20k or more in debt to the table. Or maybe you’re one of the few who either evaded debt or managed to pay it off quickly. For those out of the red, being legally-yoked with debt is a less than appealing proposal.

There are multiple schools of thought about handling debt and relationships. I believe debt should not only be discussed, but fully disclosed before legal documents make you responsible for someone else’s financial situation. Do I expected an itemized bill of student loans and consumer debt on a first date? No. If I’m years into a relationship and about to get engaged, then it’s prudent and, now my business, to know exactly what financial situation I’d be entering into.

Would I nix a future spouse based on massive debt. Probably not. Would I procrastinate getting married while he worked to lower (or eradicate) his debt. Yes.

Saving vs Spending
Everyone, I repeat, everyone, has a unique relationship with money and how he or she spends, saves, invests or avoids money. I’m a saver and beginning to dabble in investing. The idea of being with an extravagant spender who has access, and a legal right, to my money makes me feel as fuzzy inside as the One Million Moms watching Miley Cyrus twerk.

In this instance, I would absolutely pick for money over for love. Particularly if I started dating a spender who seemed reluctant to tighten up the purse strings, ever. There are some battles not worth fighting the rest of my life.

For Love or Money?
I’m not a total misanthrope. Love is incredibly important in life, but so is financial stability. A relationship needs to have open communication about finances, debt, spending and saving. Well, those are all important if you’re at the point of a legal commitment. If you’re just looking for your next Tinder hook up (creepiest app ever), then don’t worry about the battle between love or money. Unless of course you’re the one always paying for drinks…

[For your entertainment. The trailer for ‘For Love or Money?’]

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35 responses to “For Love or Money?

  1. I think I am lucky in my relationship because my husband still thinks that he’s a broke college kid. Even though he’s been out of school for nearly a decade, he still feels poor. It just never clicked that we’re adults making real money.

    1. I already know you two have the living below your means strategy down! Pretty awesome he still thinks he’s a broke college kid. Hopefully you’re eating better than ramen noodles though!

  2. I think all couples, regardless of generation, should have this type of discussion before marriage. If you struggle with this or are afraid to have this discussion, your marriage plans might be premature.

    1. Agreed. If you can’t talk about money before the rings are on the fingers it would probably be difficult to talk about money after.

  3. Similarly I don’t think I would not date or marry someone if they had a whack of debt, but I would delay actually getting married until they had it paid off or at least very under control.

    1. If I avoided dating people because of debt, I’m not sure I’d ever get to enjoy free meals! I mean ever get to go on dates.

  4. I hope whenever I find a woman I would consider spending the rest of my life with that she already has similar financials values and goals.

    I also have a wary mindset because of exactly what you cited, “Money is a leading cause of divorce […].” I know it’s not good to go into a relationship with this outlook, but I can’t help it.

    How do you all feel about keeping finances separate in a relationship? Do you think a committed relationship should automatically include shared checking accounts, credit cards, etc.? If your partner brought up separate finances, would you be offended?

    1. All three questions offer great fodder for future posts, but my quick responses. 1) I only think relationships should include shared information if you are legally beholden to each other. I would never let a boyfriend have access to my bank accounts or investments. I also think you should have separate credit cards. 2) Of course not. I would, however, be offended if there wasn’t transparency. I would like to have my own bank account, with just my name on it and my future husband would too. I would also want a joint account. But once you’re married “what’s yours is mine” unless there is a pre-nup. So, I don’t see the point in hiding anything about your financial situation. Hiding of financial information could also be what causes the arguments about money or suddenly reveals there is debt because someone started spending without the other knowing.

  5. Very interesting points. I might have to watch that movie since I love Michael J. Fox. I also love chick flicks.

    On a more serious note, it is really important to discuss financial issues with people. I’m only seeing the repercussions of it right now after reflecting a bit after my break-up. The former boyfriend was really bad at handling money and only now am I seeing how it could have brought me down in the longer scheme of things.

    I don’t think I’d pass up somebody with a ton of debt, but it would be a little bit of a factor if we became more serious, especially if we got married. Like a few other people said and yourself, I’d delay marriage to see if they could get it paid down or to know their in a situation where they could pay it down. I have a TON of debt, but am trying to work in paying it down, so.

    1. I mostly just love Michael J. Fox! He’s so adorable and I can’t wait for his new show.

      Sorry to hear about the break-up. Sounds like you have a healthy attitude though and I agree, getting on the same page about finances really does help reduce future stress.

  6. Can I cheat and say both? :) I feel very fortunate that my husband and I have very similar money beliefs. When we got married, I agreed that we would only take out a loan for our home. If we couldn’t afford it, we would wait until we could. We’ve always had goals and worked hard to save/invest our money to achieve them, so I’d like to think that I have both money and love!

    1. I really respect how you two have similar money beliefs. I remember that from your economag Awesome Blogger profile! I loved that you and your husband had a theoretical plan if you are ever given a big lump sum of money and it was so practical!

  7. Money absolutely needs to be discussed before any legal documents are signed. Unromantic or not, it’s part of the person’s total package and it must be disclosed. I wouldn’t not (double negative!) marry someone with debt (I’m already married so I guess that’s irrelevant) but it definitely is important to marry someone with similar financial goals. We didn’t have financial goals when we got married because we were approximately 5 years old, but we have grown together and are working towards the same things now :).

    1. Ultimately, I would marry someone with some debt. I would just delay the process until a chunk of the debt had been paid off. The fact I want to get married a bit later in life also helps. But, I understand completely why people don’t want to wait.

  8. Money is a HUGELY important topic. We need to learn as couples to communicate about it. I feel like I’m a bit of an anomaly in this topic though since I’ve been with (and now married) to the man I started dating when I was 16 (and debt-free). He was with me as I racked my my debt in school but it wasn’t until we were married and faced it together that he realized the implications of my borrowing. Thankfully over the years we’ve been able to come together and learn about and talk about money.

    Like others, having similar financially goals is hugely important! regardless of whether we want to accept it, money totally rules the world and how we live our lives.

    1. A high school sweetheart?! Talking about growing together as a couple! Being able to talk about money just seems to make life easier. Marriage can be difficult, so I hear, so might as well make it as simple as possible!

  9. Agreed all around. I’m currently dating someone who is a bit “looser with money than I’d like. It’s not a deal breaker, especially since he has good, secure income, though if things continue to move forward I would need to know that we could set and reach financial goals together.

    1. People can always learn from your example too. My current boyfriend has tightened the purse strings a bit, but I’ve also accepted not to put quite as much emphasis on money as I used to. He’s quite frugal now though and appreciates doing silly, fun things instead of fancy dates and elaborate gifts.

  10. I’m not sure if debt would cause me to delay my thought process. Student debt is fairly common and as long as there is a plan of attack, it’s doable. The harder issue would be credit score. That area gets a little blurry and I don’t know if I would be willing to see mine take a plummet.

    1. Another great point. If there is consumer debt involved then it’s probably a safe assumption their credit score could be a bit less than ideal.

    1. They may be intimidated to tell you, but it would be awful to think someone is debt free, or has much less debt, and then suddenly you get hit with a huge sum!

  11. My wife and I are largely on the same page. I think the biggest thing is goals and being realistic about what needs to be done to get there. We are both willing to sacrifice to get rid of our student loans, increase our income, and build a solid financial foundation for the future. Plus our dream home won’t be cheap ;)

  12. “A relationship needs to have open communication about finances, debt, spending and saving.”

    I think that’s really the key point here. I don’t think that two people have to be completely compatible with their money habits to have a successful relationship, but I definitely think you have to be on the same page and you have to come up with some kind of system that lets you work positively towards common goals. My parents are very different from a spend/save standpoint, and I know that’s caused some issues but on the whole they’ve worked out a system that works for them. If you can’t do that then you’re just asking for trouble.

  13. Love and money (good money management-not necessarily making a lot of $) go hand in hand for me. I wouldn’t not date someone because they had debt (I had my own student loan debt for several years so I’d be a hypocrite if I said I wouldn’t want to date someone with debt). Thankfully bf was equally dedicated to paying of his own student debt. Now that we’re both debt free (except for the mortgage) we don’t have to worry about money-just think about how we’re going to save and spend it. If we didn’t have the same values about money I think it would be a huge problem and ultimately a deal breaker for me.

  14. Marrying for money is not ok, you will end up having to swallow your entire personality, put up with endless humiliations and become bitter and miserable by middle age. Marrying an idiot who can’t save money is also not ok unless he (or she) is also amenable to learning how to save. Real love lasts, but that warm and fuzzy-all-over feeling gets replaced by the reality of day to day living, so the traits to look for in a partner are capacity to save, but generous, honest and rational enough to discuss finances without making either of you uncomfortable. My mother was a binge spender and my dad was an obsessive saver so I saw first hand the stresses that both can cause. No, they didn’t fight, but I could see that respect was lost on both sides.

  15. I don’t think I could answer that question fully until I’m faced with the situation/person. It would be easy for me to say I don’t ever want to date someone with mounds of debt but I guess it would depend on the circumstances. In a perfect world I’d like to say I want to be in love with someone with no debt and/or smart with money, but at this point in life I’d just like a date. :)

  16. I think money and relationships is very important. I’m lucky in that my husband was frugal far before I ever became that way – and had no debt. I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be if he was a spender or had a bunch of debt and wasn’t concerned about paying it off.

  17. This is the best, most realistic on both sides of the argument, commentary I’ve seen yet on this subject in the blogging world! I agree that the situation should be known, but it shouldn’t determine whether or not you fall in love (ie not on the first date.) But dragging your feet while he/she works off the debt…representing reality! I don’t know if I’ve ever been with an EXTRAVAGANT spender, but it kind of sounds like the kind of person I wouldn’t be attracted to anyways. Too much stress on the material? We have a pretty good compromise going on with his moderate spendy-ness and my insane refusal to ever spend any money ever.

  18. My boyfriend and I have different attitudes about money and spending, but overall we both think love is more important. And I think that has made all the difference in terms of our happiness together.

  19. Let’s say I’m off the dating game for 11 years, so I don’t have to worry about this anymore. I did take into account that my future partner would have A JOB and be able to support himself. It’s true that love is great, but I’d like to love with a full stomach, if you know what I mean :D

    I do work and earned my money since graduating high-school (worked during college), so I never expected my partner to support me, but I surely don’t plan on being the only one to earn the money.

    As far as debt is concerned – we’re debt free, but I did have car payments 5 years ago (till last year). I paid ALL my debt and never expected him to pay for my ‘mistakes’

  20. I’m always surprised by the people I meet who didn’t know about their partner’s debt until they were married. Sometimes it happens because one partner is ashamed of the amount of debt they owe and doesn’t want to scare the other off, but more often than not, it’s simply because the couple just never broached the topic of money.

    My wife and I started talking about debt not too long after we started dating. Kinda funny how we got on the topic, too — a flat tire when she came to visit me ended up overdrafting her checking account. That surprised me, so I asked about her financial situation and started telling her about mine.

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