In light of Valentine's Day, Jean talks about money and relationships. Her guest is Carmen Wong Ulrich, a personal finance columnist who recently worked with PayPal on an interesting survey about the differences in the ways men and women handle money. The survey, called "Can't Buy Me Love," proved what we already knew: Money is what people most fight about in relationships. However, it also uncovered trends in hidden purchases that work both ways—men hide purchases from women just as often as women hide purchases from men. Women tend to hide the cost of girls nights, while men keep their electronic purchases a secret.
Carmen shares how couples can work together against the negative effects of money on a relationship:
- Communicate before you walk down the aisle. It may not be the most romantic part of your relationship, but it's important to air your debts openly and honestly.
- Keep your money identity. You are two different people, so it's okay to keep separate bank accounts and even credit cards. A little less than half of the respondents of the survey have a joint account with their spouse as well as a personal account, Carmen says.
- Commit to saving. Make automatic contributions to your savings account and work toward goals as a team, whether it's purchasing a house or going on a vacation.
- Be prepared for changes that come when you have a baby. Get a will, as well as life and disability insurance, so that your child is protected in case of a tragedy.
- No matter who takes care of paying the bills, keep the other partner informed. Online banking is a great way to facilitate this—when you both share a password, you can easily keep tabs on balances.