Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I have been divorced for three years. I met a man about a year ago and we have talked about getting married. Recently, however, I have started noticing some strange spending habits. He also frequently gets phone calls from creditors and he told me his credit score is very low. I have a stellar financial record, more than $100,000 saved in long-term savings, and plans of owning my own business within a few years. I am wondering how important financial goals really are and whether love really can conquer all?”
Do we need to have shared financial goals?
You’ve asked a good question, and it’s great that you are asking the question now before you’ve spent years with this man and have several kids. Unfortunately, what you’ve really discovered is something very important: it’s not whether or not your boyfriend has money right now or not. The issue is actually something much more complicated. What you have really noticed is that you and your boyfriend may have different views about money.
Now we always here that opposites attract. While this might be true with regards to personality and temperament, in other areas it’s actually very important to find someone with whom you share the same ideas. Let me explain.
Imagine a marriage where you want to save and invest your money and someday be able to travel and by a business. Your boyfriend on the other hand wants to live for the here and now, refusing to save a dime and instead chooses to live paycheck to paycheck.
Now, picture yourself living the life he wants to live and forfeiting your dreams and desires. You need to ask yourself whether or not this will make you happy or whether you will eventually resent him.
How much financial baggage is too much?
Before getting to the altar it’s important to ask yourself how much financial baggage is too much. Did your boyfriend have a financial crisis such as a death, divorce, job loss or medical condition that left him in financial straits? Or rather, did he over spend for years failing to realize his decisions had long-term consequences?
Although you did not mention this, it’s also important to ask yourself if your boyfriend’s level of professional ambition is sufficient. You have to be honest about the type of life you want to live. If you both choose to be missionaries and both dream of living in a third world country surviving on $10,000 per year, that’s fine. If, however, one of you wants to be wealthy and the other prefers a more basic existence it might be time to ask yourself if your dreams are compatible.
Besides financial goals, consider other issues of marital conflict
Financial considerations are just one potential area of conflict. If you determine that your boyfriend and you have similar financial goals, his issues are not related to his behaviors but rather to a one-time life crisis, it might be fine to proceed.
Before you make any decisions, however, it might be good to get additional marital counseling. Financial issues are just one topic that needs to be explored before marriage. You also need to discuss whether or not you want a family, where you might want to live, and how much interaction you will have with both sides of your family.
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