Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke: Love & Money
April 8, 2008, 11:03 am
Filed under: Books, Money Basics, Relationships | Tags: ,

This is the tenth installment of my review of Suze Orman’s The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke. The previous installment, Big Ticket Purchase: Home, covered the basics of buying a home.

Lasting relationships require financial intimacy. The key to this intimacy is not only understanding that the two of you have different financial personalities, but also striving to work together to come up with a shared approach to spending, saving, and investing. This requires complete openness with one another in regards to how much money you make, how much money you have in your accounts, and how much debt you owe.

Orman recommends merging some, but not all of your finances. Your shared living expenses should be paid out of a joint checking account, but be sure to keep your separate checking accounts for your personal expenses. Always keep your own individual credit cards that are only in your name so that you will still have an individual credit history in case something happens and the two of you split up.

When paying your living expenses, the two of you should pay equal shares, not equal dollar amounts:
-Figure out your combined monthly living costs and add 10% (because everyone underestimates)
-Add up your combined monthly take home pay
-Divide your expenses by your combined take home pay to figure out the percentage of expenses you each have to pay 

(Example- $3000 expenses/$4000 combined income= 75%
75% of $1500 [your monthly income]= $1125
75% of $2500 [your partner’s monthly income]= $1875)

Pay your bills together every month. Both of you need to be up to speed on your joint income and spending. Once you have paying bills together down, your next natural step is to start saving together. Use the same equal shares method that you use for expenses to create a plan for your savings contributions.

Orman makes the important point that while you do not take on any debt that your spouse amassed before you got married, all of the debt accrued during your marriage is a joint responsibility. It doesn’t matter if only one of your names is on the account, loan, or credit card- you are both responsible for it.

Once you have dependents, you need to get a life insurance policy. Never get a policy before you have dependents, as it will be a waste of money. Orman suggests only buying a term life insurance policy, not a whole life, universal, or variable/cash value policy. Term provides insurance for 5, 15, 20, or 30 years. You choose the term based on how long you expect your dependents will need to rely on you financially. You want a plan that has a guaranteed level premium where your annual cost will not change for the entire policy term. Your dependents will only get money if you die during the term, not after. Orman states that life insurance was never meant to be a permanent need; it’s only meant to be a temporary solution until you build up enough assets to take care of your dependents. A term policy gives you coverage for the amount of time needed and that’s it.

If your partner has no respect for money, they won’t have any respect for you either. Orman suggests talking to your significant other about financial issues, but be careful not to attack them. Figure out areas where change needs to occur and conduct ongoing conversations to encourage and support them while they take on new habits. If your partner truly loves you, it will not be hard for them to make financial changes.

Jake and I have had countless conversations regarding his spending and saving habits, as well as my own. It was been an uphill battle, but he has made significant changes over the years because he knows how important it is to our relationship to get our finances in order. We’re still not on the same page all of the time, but it feels like we’re at least in the same book now! Jake and I share an ING checking account for our utility bills and a HSBC savings account. I’m thinking about having us use the checking account to merge our grocery spending as well. I have to admit, we split our bills 50/50 instead of by a percentage, as Orman recommends. I think we may have to change this soon though as I make significantly less than Jake does and boy, do I feel it when it comes time to pay the bills.

The next and last installment of my Money Book for YF&B review will be a wrap up of all of my installments.

4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I make a fair amount more than my fiance, and I am going to tell him about that idea of paying a share instead of half. I bet he will love it! And I can handle paying more for expenses.

Comment by Sara

I’m not sure how Jake is going to take it since he’ll be the one who winds up paying more. He already pays for my insurance so that expense may “balance out” things and we may leave it 50/50.

Comment by Sarah

My boyfriend and I are about to move in together, and I have been insisting that we split everything 50/50, but after I spent a few more minutes thinking about it, I realized that the percentage system is WAY more fair.

Comment by Sarah

I showed my fiance this entry and he is thinking about it. He actually wants to keep our current system for some of it. For example, he eats as much or more food than I do, so he wants to continue splitting the groceries. We already alternate who buys when we eat out. Housing and utilities we might change the calc because I actually own the house and his name isn’t on the deed.

Comment by Sara

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