Many, if not most, of the clients that I see for a divorce have a similar problem – Different Financial Philosophies From Their Spouse.
The sad thing is, many of them do not recognize this until they are on the brink of or in the middle of divorce. If they had, individually, and as a couple, sought out financial literacy and education to uncover what THEIR Financial Philosophy was BEFORE they married, and in turn worked with a financial professional or even a counselor, such as a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, they could have been educated on the impact their different financial philosophies would on their relationship, short-term and long-term. The following are just a few examples of questions that individuals should know about themselves and their spouse before they marry them.
If they don’t, or if they marry them despite different financial philosophies, they may very well end up in a lawyer’s office one day talking about a divorce.
- Do they believe that credit cards and charging for things they want is acceptable?
- Does debt make them anxious?
- Do they believe in spending versus saving?
- Do they want to have a home that is close to the maximum they can afford or do they believe in renting or purchasing a home that will not leave them house rich and cash poor?
- Do they want expensive vacations?
- Do they want to drive new cars or buy used cars?
- Do they believe that one parent should stay home with the children and thus not bring home a salary for a period of time? If so, what is that period of time? If not, will there be resentment between the parties over this issue?
- Do they believe in sending their children to public school or private school during their elementary, middle school and high school years?
- Do they believe they should pay for their children’s college costs? If they believe in paying their children’s college expenses, do they agree that it should be limited to public universities or include a private school for the children’s college education?
- Do they believe in covering their children’s education through graduate school – law school, medical school, or other graduate degrees?
Even if you don’t know your and/or your spouse’s financial philosophy when you marry them, if you become educated on your philosophy as an individual and as a couple after you wed, that may prevent your ever needing to talk to a lawyer about a divorce.
I once knew a wise man who said, “If money can fix something, you don’t have a problem.”
If we really think about that statement, we will realize that, often money is not the real problem, even if it seems that, on the short-term, enough money would fix the problem. Even if you come into a million dollars and can pay off your current debt and buy fancy things, if you (and your spouse) don’t know your financial philosophy/ies and don’t share your financial philosophies, you may still find yourself in a financial situation that you eventually cannot live with. That breaking point is often when people come to see me about a divorce. Maybe the marriage should never have happened because of the couple’s different financial philosophies or maybe because the couple didn’t even know their financial philosophies they ended up in a financial place they can no longer live with. But either way, money wouldn’t help because the root cause is that they parties’ financial philosophies are not workable and cannot be reconciled, and thus one or both of them must divorce.
Give yourself, your soon-to-be or current spouse, and your children a chance at never needing to see me or another lawyer for a divorce – learn, teach and give the gift of financial literacy. There are a number of courses out there, some surprisingly inexpensive, that can give you and your loved ones this gift of what Dave Ramsey, the nationally known financial guru, calls “Financial Peace.” Don’t you and your loved ones deserve that? I think you do.
I recommend Dave Ramsey’s course, “Financial Peace University;” it is surprisingly inexpensive and regularly offered around the country. I receive nothing for this plug for that course, but I will tell you I took it and sent my children to it, and I can already see in their young adult lives that it has set them on a good financial path. I also recommend a book called “The Wealth Builder Challenge,” authored by Ricky Grunden, Sr. and Dave Ragan, two local Certified Financial Planners. To be clear, I receive nothing from making this recommendation, but I read this book and found it helpful for myself and for my clients. I have it on the coffee table at my office. These are just two of numerous available resources for you to learn and give the gift of “Financial Peace” to yourself and your loved ones.