When Scrooge and shopaholic team up, it’s important to have ‘the money talk’
WINNIPEG (CP) — You don’t have to do it on the first date, or even the 10th, but once you’re in a committed relationship it’s time to get down to business.
It might be awkward at first, but if you and your honey want to clear one of the biggest hurdles facing couples today, you’re going to have to start talking about money.
Yes, we know you’d rather not. A 2008 poll conducted for the Bank of Montreal found that money is the most sensitive topic of conversation for Canadians — ahead of politics, religion, weight and even sex.
Get over it. Because as Canada’s divas of debt destruction point out in their new book, although money can’t buy you love, it can get you two tickets on a fast train to Splitsville.
“It’s what couples fight about most, but it’s also the topic that tends to get pushed to the side or just ignored,” says Angela Self, one of the authors of The Smart Cookies’ Guide to Couples and Money.
The book, subtitled Earn More, Argue Less, Achieve the Life You Want Together, is the second from Self and her fellow Smart Cookies (Andrea Baxter, Katie Dunsworth, Robyn Gunn and Sandra Hanna), who co-wrote it with New Yorkbased finance journalist Jennifer Barrett.
Bottom line: When it comes to romantic mergers, financial compatibility is just as important as emotional and physical compatibility.
Before the Cookies, now ages 28 to 34, started their self-help money club in Vancouver in 2006 — and quickly became a North American franchise after appear- ing on The Oprah Winfrey Show — they were fiscally clueless, drowning in consumer debt and paying the price in their personal lives.
And guess what? Opposites attract in love and money.
“We certainly found that to be true in our own lives, and it tends to be the pattern for a lot of people,” says Self over the phone from Toronto, where she currently resides.
“ You and your partner bring your own money personalities into the relationship and unless you’re willing to strike a balance, there’s going to be a problem.” Self, 30, speaks from experience. Before she became a Smart Cookie, the former TV production assistant was a Zombie Spender — defined in the book as someone who pays little attention to where their money goes. At the time, she was earning $10 an hour and relying on her high-interest credit cards to fund her “spend now, worry later” lifestyle. As is typical of someone with this spending style, Self often returned from shopping trips with items she didn’t recall buying.
“Once I came home from Ikea with two white duvets,” Self recalls. “I was just walking through the store and putting things into my big yellow bag.”
Research has shown that women enjoy shopping more than men, with the former twice as likely to shop impulsively — and for emotional reasons. (Men shop less often, but tend to make bigger purchases.)
All the more reason for couples to get on the same page financially, says Self, who found out too late that her live-in boyfriend was a Security Seeker money type.
“My partner was very cautious with his money. That’s how he was raised. But until we actually had a conversation about money (after breaking up), I just thought he was being kind of cheap.”
They had good intentions, though, and early in their cohabitation even wrote down their financial values and priorities — only to discover the lists were radically different. “We tossed that piece of paper away and never came back to it,” Self says. “I think we feared it would create anxiety and stress.”
Attracting your financial opposite can actually be a good thing, she says, as long as you play to each other’s strengths rather than get into a power struggle — or simply try to hide your bad habits.
Katie Dunsworth, Angela Self, Andrea Baxter, Sandra Hanna, Robyn Gunn are the authors of