The following is a chapter out of my book, Efficient Love, that is all about the Dollar Dragon – that pesky little variment that causes all kinds of money problems in relationships – especially romantic relationships like living together and marriage.
If you are considering either, do both of you a huge favor and read the following with an open mind.
The Dollar Dragon
Based on lots of polls and other tools, research shows that sex, money, and kids are consistently the three major issues of conflict that arise between couples.
Elsewhere in the book I have dealt with the dragons associated with sex and kids. The focus here is all about dollars—how many and how they are used.
Gold, And Other Nugget, Diggers—Male & Female
You don’t need me to tell you about these dragons. Some are very direct. Some are very sneaky. They want your dollars and will offer to give you everything they think you want in order to get them. If someone asks you for your financial statement before they ask your name, take that as a clue.
But this dragon goes beyond the obvious. Often, the person who wants to be your Hero or Heroine is motivated by more than just your money—even if you don’t have much. They want to share whatever power, prestige, or fame they might imagine you have as a way for them to gain what they can’t have on their own.
One of the most fundamental issues between you and your prospective Hero or Heroine will be your combined choices of lifestyle.
Assume one of you envisions living in an elegantly furnished, cosmopolitan, ten-room VERY exclusive co-op in Manhattan with THE best address that has the most stunning view of Central Park. Assume the other wants to be a recluse living with you in a mobile home practically decorated with a dozen easy-access gun racks for self-contained living and surrounded by your own fully barb-wired 100 acres of land in the outback of Montana.
Although that example may be a tad extreme, it does show how differences in wants, wishes, and needs for lifestyle can be a deal-killer even when everything else seems so right.
The fact is that some are motivated by power, prestige and money—and what it will buy for them in the way of conspicuous consumption, be it a house, car, clothes or other toys for just impressing the neighbors. Others couldn’t care less about any of that and view money and possessions as barely necessary components that should not interfere with those things they personally find important in life.
One way to flush out this issue up front is by comparing each other’s Five Years from Today descriptions. Again, there are no wrong answers here, but the two of you should probably share fairly compatible perspectives on this if you really plan on making it all the way to Happily Ever After.
Financial Security Issues
Likewise, let’s assume one of you just worries about today’s money and today’s expenses and hopes that the two kinda sorta come close to matching at the end of each month, and thinks that “401k” is a new style of jeans. Let’s assume the other wants to know about savings and contingency funds and retirement, or is at least forward-planning enough to know that there is enough money for NEXT month’s rent. If these two are destined for Happily Here & Now and beyond, then there may be an issue they want to address and a dragon they want to slay.
The usual maxim is that women are typically more worried about financial security than men. But you won’t know, in your particular case, until you and your prospective Hero or Heroine have a discussion about financial security and figure out if each other’s comfort zones are close to compatible. If they are close, then this dragon probably won’t be a problem. If they are not at all close, how do you plan on solving the issue?
Budgets, Planning And All That Stuff
One of the best ways to flush out Dollar Dragons is to do a budget as if you were living together or getting married. OK, so maybe it isn’t a good first-date conversation. But it is important for the two of you to discuss all of this stuff in detail once things get REALLY serious.
If you have not gotten to the point that you both TOTALLY know and understand each other’s financial situations, including ALL assets, liabilities, income, and expenses, then you are probably NOT ready to live together or get married.
As you do the budget, try two flavors: the one that would have the constraints of today’s income and careers—and one for Five Years from Today. Both will give each of you insights as to lifestyle compatibility.
When you do the budgets, you also may identify major conflicts and issues of cost sharing and financial responsibility that had not come up before—or may be different than each of you had assumed. So, it might be a VERY good idea to not only do the budgets—but to make absolutely sure you have done them during the Test Drive Stage, before packing up and moving. See Distance Dragon.
One of the most common threads I saw during my interviews with the Tens of Thousands about relationships was how so many felt so trapped in a bad marriage or other kind of relationship because they didn’t have the skill sets or experience to fully support themselves. Or, they couldn’t work because of young children or the impact of childcare costs on what they could earn.
As a result, many feel trapped, as if bound under indentured servitude, in a bad relationship that was nowhere close to the Happily Here & Now they craved. From what they told me, many were tempted to find someone else who could support them, though most realized that it would be the same play with just a different leading man.
If this is the dragon that currently most interferes with your Happily Here & Now, then you need to spend the time to calculate what is needed for you to support yourself fully and take whatever steps are necessary to get there—even if it means temporarily lowering your standard of living.
I am sorry to say, this may not be a quick solution. It may require new job training or more schooling to develop the skill sets necessary to have the career you need for economic freedom.
But if you don’t start now doing something to change today’s reality, then tomorrow will become the same as today—with you no closer to finding the path to your own Happily Here & Now.
There are, of course, dozens of other financial issues that are going to be specific to you and your prospective Hero or Heroine if you live together or get married.
Will one or both want pre-nup agreements? Will one of you object to the idea? Should all funds be commingled—or some or all money kept in separate accounts? What will happen regarding any child support or alimony payments being received or paid by one or both? What will you both do with regard to wills and life insurance and their beneficiaries?
The list goes on. Like most things, the more dragons you two slay today, the less time they have to grow into something bigger and nastier.
Do yourself a favor and click Efficient to order Efficient Love from Amazon – available in both paperback and Kindle versions!