For nearly 80 years now, some very brilliant researchers at Harvard University have been studying the correlation between loving relationships and their impact on health, happiness, longevity and wealth.
We all can reasonably assume that a loving relationship would manifest some semblance of joy or happiness. No surprises there. But the study, revealed an astonishing connection between love and living a longer, healthier and wealthier life.
What’s more, the same basic premise has been replicated time and again by other groups, universities and social scientists. And time and again, the same results emerged. But for our purposes, let’s focus on the financial takeaway…
Quite simply, people who enjoy loving relationships tend to build more wealth than those who don’t. And married people save more and build wealth faster than people who are single, and unmarried couples.
Let’s Talk Marriage ROI
Sure, weddings are expensive. Very expensive. But before you let that discourage you from getting hitched, let’s do a little back of the wedding invitation envelope math.
According to Ohio State Professor Jay Zagorsky1 “people who get and stay married, each have close to double the wealth of singles who never married.” His research further revealed that::
• Married people enjoy 77% higher net worth than single people
• Married couples’ wealth increases about 16% for each year of marriage
• By their 10th marriage anniversary, couples reported an average net worth of $43,000 — compared to those who stayed singled and reported just $11,000
1 “Marriage and Divorce’s Impact on Wealth”;
But First, A Quick Look At Your “Other” Long-Term Relationship
Just as our relationships with other people are deeply personal and sometimes complicated, so too are our individual relationships with money. In her Wall Street Journal report, “Love and Money — and How They Are Connected,2” Kate Murphy contends that our relationship, perceptions and attitudes about money and spending are determined by our upbringing.
Whether you view money as a source of anxiety, guilt, elation and everything in between is based upon your experiences growing up. How we were raised establishes what Associate Professor Brad Klontz coined our “individual financial psychology.”
He created the Klontz Money Script Inventory-II to help people understand their emotional attachments to money and what drives their financial behavior. You can answer the 32 questions here: https://www.yourmentalwealthadvisors.com/our-process/your-money-script/form. Or as the WSJ article proposes, ask yourself a few simple questions:
“What did your parents teach you about money?”
“What are your most joyful and most painful experiences with money?
“When’s the last time you and your spouse/partner talked about money?”
The net takeaway is that both our conscious and subconscious attitudes about money can help us reach our financial goals or hinder us. But if you have a loving and supporting partner and you’re both committed to the same goals, your chances of success are that much greater.
An Approach To Financial-Marital Harmony
In an ideal world, both you and your partner would be completely in lock-step with all matters regarding money. Specifically around the saving, spending and investing of it — and all of the associated when, where, how and whys of it all. That’s a lot to ask when you consider you both were in relationships with money long before you were a couple. Add to that that classic relationship truism, “opposites attract,” and well things can get messy.
But fear not. What follows is a time-tested approach this blog author (learned from many others) and has followed throughout his going on, 27-year marriage to maintain marital bliss, finance a college education, buy a home and pay off the mortgage, save for retirement and still enjoy some great vacations and toys (guitars) along the way.
It all starts with an honest conversation about priorities.
Assuming that you both have come to grips with your individual financial psychologies, it’s time to set aside your insecurities, defensiveness and judgement and talk about your joint outlook. What matters most to you as a couple?
Is it a huge pile of cash in the bank? A luxury condo in the city? A charming home in the suburbs? An electric car or a monster truck? Just say it out loud. Say it to each other. It’s all ok. This is a safe zone. Now think 10, 20 and then 30 years out. What do you anticipate will be important to you as a couple? Education for your kids? A vacation home for the family? A retirement life of world travel?
Get it all out there. Better still, write it down. The simple act of formally writing out your goals makes them more real, and some would say, more attainable, too!
But don’t forget your individual wants and needs along the way. It is more than possible to achieve all of your joint goals and priorities together — while still pursuing your own personal goals, passions and hobbies.
Yours, Mine and Ours:
An Approach To Keeping Everyone Happy
Now that you both have listed your joint and individual financial goals, let’s take a look at a very simple strategy that will work for the both of you.
Quite simply, it’s a matter of setting up three accounts. A joint account that you both contribute to towards your joint goals and bills. Think of it as the primary household account. And two, separate individual ones.
Whenever you get paid, you both contribute the amount of money you’ve jointly agreed upon and committed to. From this account, funds will be allocated to your financial goals — down-payment on a home, a college fund, a new car, etc. — as well as monthly household bills. You may also want to open a joint credit card just for household expenses as well, like a major appliance.
Then, after you’ve met your monthly contribution commitment to your joint goals and needs, you each maintain individual accounts to save for and spend on the things that matter to you personally. It could be a hobby, a passion or even a personal indulgence.
As long as you’re meeting your commitment to each other and are able to fund these pursuits without racking up additional debt, you should feel free to do so. Without fear of being questioned or judged, as in “Do you really need another guitar?” (The answer is always a resounding “yes.”) You both must also commit to supporting (even silently so) what the other chooses to spend “their” money on.
If it sounds like a lot of work setting up and keeping track of it all, don’t worry. We can help.
For more than 15 years, Banktivity’s been helping couples and individuals prioritize, plan and achieve all of their financial goals — big, small and everything in between. Because if it’s important to you, it’s important to us.
And with our latest suite of comprehensive financial tools, insights and techniques — like our simplified and personally rewarding Budget Enveloping feature — we can help you both take on all of your joint and individual goals. You can even connect Banktivity to your individual and joint accounts to simplify the tracking and flow of your money and more importantly your progress.