Her name was Charlotte. She came in for financial counseling a few months before she and her boyfriend got married. She had done a great job of saving over the years and had a solid head start on her retirement. She was worried because her fiancé, Taylor, had about $20,000 in credit card debt. Charlotte admitted that Scott had a problem with spending, but she thought it would be ok once they were married. Of course, it wasn’t. Charlotte was a Security Seeker and Taylor was a Spender. Because they didn’t have that basic understanding of their different approaches to money, they didn’t have any idea of how badly their money personalities could clash. And clash they did. Charlotte assumed that Taylor would follow in her financial footsteps once they were living together.
Bad assumption! No, Taylor just kept doing what he had been doing his whole adult life—spending money—and now he had a bonus because Charlotte’s income added to his. He had more to spend! Charlotte and Taylor never talked about their financial partnership. Charlotte never talked to Taylor about his debt, never asked how he’d gotten in so deep. She’d never asked him to work with her to develop a budget that would help them pay off his debt while still maintaining some savings and investments. What she did do was fume in silence as Taylor blew through her savings and ruined their credit rating.
As Charlotte discovered, debt doesn’t go away when you cut up your partner’s credit card. It doesn’t go away when you give him an allowance. Those moves only make the tension and financial infidelity in the relationship worse. Getting out of debt requires both partners to commit to a plan of action, and that plan begins with a completely open and honest discussion of the differences because, if there is resentment and mistrust, it’s almost impossible to get the kind of commitment necessary for real change.