Tense senior couple meeting with their counsellor.
Posted by: Howard Dvorkin, CPA
Date of post: May 21, 2018

They both hear stories about sex and money.

When I tell people I’m a financial counselor, author, and CPA, I sometimes receive a very blank stare. I imagine they’re thinking, “Wow, that might be important, but it’s also so boring.”

That might be true — if you’re also bored by love, sex, yelling, tears of joy, and hugs from children.

You see, financial counselors deal with some of the same issues that marriage counselors and psychologists do. That’s because money permeates so many of our emotions.

Two recent stories illustrate that. One seems to have nothing to do with money at all: The Age of ‘Shotgun Cohabitation’ in The Atlantic says, “A new report highlights the growing trend of unmarried parents living together with their children.”

Many reasons are cited, but the most compelling is both financial and psychological: “For many young couples, financial stability is a sort of prerequisite for marriage.” Of course, there are purely factual reasons for staying single if you suffer financial distress, as the story accurately describes…

If one partner participates in an income-based student-loan program, then marries and files a joint tax return, the government will consider the spouse’s income, and increase the loan payment. While marriage does afford couples some financial benefits, they can take advantage of most of them — sharing the rent, utility bills, and furniture — just by living together. Many other financial benefits of marriage, like Social Security and inheritance rights, don’t typically materialize until later in life.

However, it’s also true that few people make financial decisions without any emotional involvement. We’re not computers, even if we spend most of our days on our devices.

That’s why another story in The Atlantic — one of the nation’s best magazines for delving into issues without a political agenda — piqued my interest. This one was about money, but it contained even more emotional decision-making.

Why More Young Married Couples Are Keeping Separate Bank Accounts explained the reasons for a huge banking and cultural shift.

“A joint bank account has, traditionally, been a sign of commitment,” the story began, before explaining, “Millennial married and cohabitating couples were more likely to hold separate accounts than previous generations were.”

Many of the reasons melded money with emotions. For example, this quote is from a woman the reporter interviewed:”When buying him gifts, when picking up the tab at dinner, I like knowing that I am also contributing to this relationship.”

The reporter also spoke with a young man…

Another Millennial I talked to worried that, if he and his wife merged bank accounts, their relationship might begin to conform to antiquated gender roles, with the man in charge of all the finances. The concept of a joint account, to him, felt dated.

Of course, everyone knows that arguing about money is a major cause of marital strife. Debt.com once asked, Why do so many marriages end in divorce? The answer: “Too little of two things: cash and communication.”

So part of my job isn’t just to analyze a couple’s finances. I need to make sure they’re talking about those finances. What’s the lesson here? When I urge you to call Debt.com at 855-894-0578 for a free expert consultation, I know you’re nervous. I know you’re uncomfortable. You might even be embarrassed. 

There’s no reason to feel any of those emotions, even though our counselors are trained to help you deal with them. The bottom line is: If you want to improve your bottom line, don’t let your emotions sink your savings.