December 18, 2013
I don’t know about you, but I see love and money as two very different beasts, though not everyone agrees with me. Last year I made some comments for a national newspaper about the importance of pre-nuptial agreements, especially for second marriages. My firm posted the article to our Facebook page and one of my male clients commented “kind of takes the romance out of it doesn’t it?” Funny, but I see it in the opposite way. When I decided to head for the altar for the second time, the most important thing for me was romance! In my view, the best way to ensure that this would be the focus of the relationship was to have completely separate financial situations. That way we would never need to argue about money and we could spend all of our time in connubial bliss. For my 2010 white paper Financial Lives of Girls and Women, I commissioned an Angus Reid survey of a thousand women across Canada to explore aspects of their money behaviour. One of the questions was on household financial arrangements. What about joint finances? Nearly 90% of survey respondents said they feel that financial decisions should often or always be made with their spouse or partner. But when we tested for their actual behaviour, results showed that while 34% of married or common-law women have completely joint finances, 66% have at least one separate account and/or credit card. This concept was explored in subsequent interviews with a smaller sample, and the most common reason given for the desire for a separate account was “to avoid difficult conversations”. No one is particularly fond of feeling that they might have to justify a purchase. No doubt some couples feel closer when they have common goals such as paying off a mortgage or funding their children’s education. But is that what makes them feel more in love? Which side of the fence are you on? Do love and money go together?