Gay Wedding“Money isn’t a romantic subject.” — Sheryl Garrett

The experts all agree that financial problems are often cited as a major cause of divorce. Money does matter in a long-term relationship. I remember initiating the serious “money” conversation with Jeanine just after a few months of dating.

At this point, I was falling for her and wanted to make sure that we saw eye-to-eye on finances. The most important thing for me was that she didn’t have a lot of credit card debt. Abusing your credit card is one of the deadly sins in my book and indicative of a host of other financial issues. This might sound shallow but I didn’t want to be burdened by someone’s past mistakes. My practical side often overwhelms my romantic side… but at least Jeanine knew right from the get-go what she was getting herself into.

Back then I was on the prowl for a long-term partner, so I was very matter-of-fact about what I was looking for in a mate. With regards to finances, it was never about how much money they made… my dating ran the gamut of professions and income. Their paycheck was never really a concern. I didn’t care if she was a yoga instructor making 25 bucks a class or a movie studio VP making $275,000 a year. What matter was how she spent her money.

I once heard about a simple formula that illustrates this point of money management:

– Earn $100 and spend $101 and you are in trouble.
– Earn $100 and spend $99 and you are not in trouble.
– That $2 makes a world of difference.

If they had a lot of credit card debt then they must be living beyond their means and I didn’t want to be any part of this balance sheet. It was really, really important to me that we shared a similar view on this financial fundamental. If she spent more money than she earned… well, then there wasn’t any amount of good looks or good intentions that could outweigh this flaw. So I asked the question… long before I ever said I love you.

Scott Reeves at Forbes wrote an article about money and marriage called, Talk about Money. He writes, “For many young couples, talking about money is more difficult than discussing sex. Little surprise, given that experts say financial problems–not bedroom gymnastics–are the major cause of divorce.”

“Many young couples are so busy being romantic that they forget to talk about anything practical like personal finance,” says Sheryl Garrett, a certified financial planner and author of Getting Married. “Money isn’t a romantic subject, but marriage should be seen as entering into a financial as well as a romantic partnership.” The article then lists seven financial considerations that will keep your pillow talk sweet. Who can resist a teaser like this?

Anyway, Jeanine’s consumer debt was minimal and she eliminated it before we moved in together. To this day, she hasn’t carried a credit card balance. The things we do for love…