Mixing love and money can quickly turn into a disaster. Many people are aware of the fact that discussing finances in a relationship is important: 48% of people surveyed by Credello believe that you should start talking about money within the first six months of dating. But even with that awareness, arguments about money are the top predictor of divorce.
Perhaps it’s because of the fact that love and money myths run rampant, and those myths influence our habits and behaviors. “The love and money myths I hear all the time in my profession can be silly at best, and ruin relationships at worst,” says Gates Little, President and CEO of altLINE Sobanco.
Below are five unhelpful love and money myths we need to stop believing.
Women shouldn’t earn more than their partner
Aidan Kang, a CFA and the CEO of House of Debt, says that the “men should be providers” myth is still common. With that belief comes the idea that women shouldn’t make more money than their partners, because earning more could hurt some men’s egos.
“This is just unreasonable and harmful because it could hold back a woman from achieving her personal dreams and cause a rift between couples. No matter who contributes a higher income, couples should be partners in ensuring that their family has a healthy financial life,” says Kang.
Money doesn’t matter when you’re in love
“When dating, some people don’t care when the other person is jobless or buried in debt. To them, what matters is that they love each other, and love alone is enough for them to live a life together,” he adds.
While it sounds romantic in theory, believing that love matters more than money is a harmful concept in practice. As mentioned above, money is a top cause of conflict and divorce. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t date someone in debt, but you need to be realistic about the impact of finances on your relationship. Get into the habit of having money dates.
“People greatly underestimate the role finances play in their day-to-day stress. This stress can be expressed in ways that are difficult to navigate as a couple, and can bring out sides of your partner that you struggle to recognize. Put it this way: it’s tough to work on a relationship when you are facing an eviction notice, are battling hunger or are working three jobs to make ends meet,” says Little.
Don’t talk about money
According to Kang, seeing money as a taboo is another myth to stop believing: “Many couples don’t talk about money while dating. It’s normal to skip money talks during the getting-to-know stage, but as you go deeper into the relationship, it’s important to know each other’s financial health.”
So, don’t keep money issues to yourself, especially if you’re planning a future together. “If you’re in debt, you and your partner can make a plan together on how you can be debt-free. Remember that your money decisions now can affect your joint finances once you’re married,” says Kang.
From using a debt payoff calculator together to committing to a budget, tackle the challenge as a team.
Yours, mine, ours
Just because you are going to share a financial future on some degree doesn’t mean that all your funds should be combined. “Many couples rush to combine their finances as a symbolic gesture of their love, but this can spell disaster if there are undisclosed debts, bad spending habits or fundamental relationship problems that can result in a costly separation,” according to Little, who recommends a more balanced approach.
“Having separate finances and one shared account for shared bills can be a stepping stone that allows you to try out shared financial responsibilities without hurting the financial standing of your partner.”
Everything should be split 50/50
Speaking of balance, the idea that everything should be split 50/50 is an unhelpful myth, too. This only makes sense if you both earn the same income and have the same expenses each billing cycle, adds little.
“Despite what some of us have grown up to believe, love is not transactional, and a commitment to splitting bills to the penny or right down the middle with no consideration of individual financial situations will breed resentment,” he says. He recommends splitting bills in a way that makes sense to you.
“Split up the bills in ways that make sense for you- maybe someone covers power, someone else covers the internet and it kind of evens out. Mortgage and rent can be split proportionate to income, or perhaps you pool funds in a common account that you can both use to pay off expenses as needed. Whatever works for you,” he adds.