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Old 05-25-2013, 05:42 AM   #41
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Has anyone married a spouse that did not share similar financial background and ideals?
My wife and I came from a similar background, but definitely not with similar ideals. She happens to be the engineer, but through living at or above her means, had accumulated almost nothing by the time I met her via eHarmony in 2009. She had gotten caught up in the housing crisis and was underwater on her home with a looming balloon payment. She did not appreciate this when I met her and, had her circumstances not changed, she would soon have found herself in foreclosure or bankruptcy. After overcoming awful screw-ups by the government programs of the time, accompanied by not-so-subtle shenanigans by the bank that had taken over the management of her mortgage, we eventually succeeded in selling her house via short sale. Not long after, she changed jobs to the better-paying one she has now. I think this whole process helped make her more receptive to learning about better ways to save and invest her money with a focus on the future (rather than the next luxury). This openness and willingness to change helped her grow into someone I wanted to marry rather than just have fun with.

We’ve had challenges since then. I have done some lifestyle upgrades that I would not have considered without her, and she sometimes chafes at some of the budgetary restrictions/savings requirements that I insist on. Fortunately, heated negotiations involving our saving/spending choices are happening less often than they used to. Her enthusiasm for ER will probably never be like mine, but she likes seeing the net worth numbers grow and she will sometimes join me dreaming about the changes we anticipate with ER. Despite the occasional frictions around money, I believe both of us would agree that our relationship/marriage is the best thing that has happened to us. We both wish it was possible for us to have met in our twenties instead of our forties.
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Old 05-25-2013, 06:01 AM   #42
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It seems to me that it is all about kids. If you want to have them, you are heading towards marriage because, lets face it, wanting kids means wanting a family life. Ha's third world option sounds more like buying some kids at a market - doesn't come with the family life that drives the desire for most of us. Once you head down that road, all bets are off. Either you or your spouse may change a lot once the kids are running around and your careers develop. It all seems like a bit of a crap shoot. I suspect the best you can do on that path is to keep saving as much as you can and hope for the best.

If kids are not in the picture and you are dedicated to FIRE your options expand. Then Ha's single lifestyle becomes very attractive. Alternatively, bumping into another 30 something who really floats your boat and is just as committed to the same goals could counsel marriage. Just remember, people change, including you.
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Old 05-25-2013, 06:27 AM   #43
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My question is, how much weight should one put on looking at a potential spouses money habits?
YMMV of course but my experience/conclusion is that it is crucial to look carefully at what she does, not what she says.

Wife #1 had the same education/income as I did, but apparently couldn't stand to see a dollar in the bank and her solution to every "I wanna..." was "charge it". At the time she said she had some outstanding cc bills because of expenses during college. She was 25 so I thought that a reasonable explanation. And I found out too late that she went shopping as a form of entertainment.

Wife #2 had much less income than I did and was frugal with it. She also had worked and paid for her own 2-year degree, with no debt, which I thought was impressive. After several years of dating, I remember she came over to watch a movie and I told her that her jeans had a hole in the back. She said "Yeah, I know, but I hate shopping".

I immediately fell to my knees and proposed.

The money thing really is all about priorities. We do have some minor differences but when money's tight there is no disagreement because the core values are virtually identical. That's important.
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Old 05-25-2013, 06:55 AM   #44
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My question is, how much weight should one put on looking at a potential spouses money habits? Is it more important to find someone that is intelligent , attractive and shares similar interests? Would you not pursue someone that seemed excellent except for being loose with money?

What if the woman comes for a rich family so is used to that way of life? I don't think I could support a woman that solely shops at high quality designer brands. I also wouldn't feel comfortable taking hand downs from a rich family either.

Any thoughts?
I could NEVER marry a woman who didn't see finances in a similar fashion as I do. Growing up I saw too many guys showering money and gifts on the the type of women who loved to spend. The guys would even go into debt to gain their attention - but when the money went completely south, the women were gone faster than a drop of water on a hot griddle. So I steered clear of women who seemed to value and prioritize material things in a relationship, no matter how beautiful or tempting they were.

My Dad gave me this good advice: if you find someone that you want to marry, be sure to date them long enough so that you see them at their "worst" - when they have to deal with disappointment, unfairness, when things do not go their way, etc. Then determine if their reaction is something you can accept. Because all marriages will have those situations and that will be the real test of the relationship.

At my Ivy League college there were a lot of beautiful women from rich backgrounds that I was fortunate to have as friends but couldn't have a relationship with because of their money attitude. Like wrecking a car and laughing because "mommy/daddy will buy me another one". The woman I ended up getting serious about and marrying was (and still is) beautiful, her family had a better financial background than mine, but we had similar life goals (if not completely common interests). When it comes to finances she was more of a spender, but she acknowledged that and her lack of financial knowledge so was willing to work with me together to establish common goals. While I have made the majority of family income during our marriage, without her cooperation and support we would not be in our financial position now.

I believe studies have shown that more marriages are wrecked over finances than anything else. Of our friends who married and then divorced we have observed this to be true. Intelligence and attractiveness are certainly important, but if you desire a long term relationship having similar long term goals, including finances, is just as important.
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Old 05-25-2013, 07:16 AM   #45
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DH & I have been married for 33 years. Both of us were raised in homes where there was not enough $$ and both of us got our first jobs when we were 15 out of necessity. We learned to scrimp and save very early, and lived below our means out of fear of not having enough. As we aged, we've both done well enough, with LBYM as a lifestyle, because that's just the way we were. We also didn't have kids; neither of us really saw ourselves as parents, and we knew that both of us would always have to (want to) work full time.

Fast forward to 1994 when we plopped down $75 for a one-time visit to a financial adviser who told us that if we both maxed out our 401K's, we would have $1M some day. It was the best $75 we ever spent! After that, FIRE became our goal. We didn't start out thinking that way, but we have always had the same conservative attitude toward money, and we evolved together. We have never had a fight about money (that I can recall). We have never paid a cent in credit card interest, or had any debt except a mortgage (the last one ended in 2002) or a car loan (last one ended in 2000).

I can't imagine being married to a spender or someone who did not share my views on $$.
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Old 05-25-2013, 07:58 AM   #46
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After several years of dating, I remember she came over to watch a movie and I told her that her jeans had a hole in the back. She said "Yeah, I know, but I hate shopping".

I immediately fell to my knees and proposed.
Ha ha, that's my DW! I knew we were for each other after a similar story. She also hates jewelry. HATES it. (Guys: jewelry could eat you alive.)

This has been one sided for the guys. Ladies, what should you look for or avoid in a guy? As a guy, the things that I've seen ruin them financially and relationships are:
- wandering eye
- love of gambling (major warning!)
- excess alcohol usage
- expensive toy obsession (usually cars and boats, sometimes sporting goods like new golf clubs each year)

The above list transfers across both genders, but I tend to see the above problem areas mainly on the guys.
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Old 05-25-2013, 08:12 AM   #47
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My wife and I met at a party. We dated for three years before marriage and have been married for almost ten. She is frugal growing up as the oldest of six in a very middle income family. When younger her clothes were mostly k-mart. The younger siblings had somewhat nicer things since the older ones were off the payroll.

When she met she was in a keep you head above water mode financially, and was working down her student loans. She lived with roommates and took a ten year repayment schedule. After dating for a year or so we decided we wanted to take a trip to Belize together. She saved up for her share over many months, and insisted on paying her freight (I made more and had offered to help). I think we more or less planned our life together relaxing in the hammocks in Belize.

The point is, if you don't rush you can see the signs of frugality (roommates, paying bills without constant crises, alternating or splitting checks). Your spouse doesn't have to be as obsessed as we are or have the same depth of knowledge. But you gotta be pointed in roughly the same direction.
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Old 05-25-2013, 09:49 AM   #48
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I'd be concerned that a girl from an upscale family sees herself as "daddy's girl" and expects to be taken care of. If she works, she might treat her income as "hers" and yours as "ours". And her family might support such entitlement mentality, expecting her to marry "up", from good life to even better life.

Same values are extremely important IMO. Some differences can be overcome with tolerance on both sides. But not for the core values.

I am happy to be married to DH, my love and best friend, for 31 years now.
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:08 AM   #49
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Take some advice from Ben Franklin:

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He admitted in a letter to a friend, written at the end of his life, that although “frugality is an enriching virtue,” it was also “a virtue I could never acquire in myself.” But the next sentence points to one of the tricks we can learn from Franklin. He continues, “I was lucky enough to find it [frugality] in a wife, who thereby became a fortune to me.”
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Old 05-25-2013, 12:22 PM   #50
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Just saw this salient article on my newsfeed:

"Without agreement on your goals, values, attitudes and financial behaviors, your relationship is doomed. One of you will dump the other or you’ll live a miserable life together. This may take weeks, months, years or decades to manifest but it absolutely will happen sooner or later. I know this sounds harsh but only because it’s true."

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Old 05-25-2013, 12:29 PM   #51
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I'm abut the same age as banker with a brain, and I was fortunate to find a wife with similar financial values. I can also sympathize with what he's going through, because I observe 30 year old women as a generally expensive breed.

I think you have to share that you're a little frugal early on and let it play out, good luck.
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Old 05-25-2013, 01:07 PM   #52
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It seems to me that it is all about kids. If you want to have them, you are heading towards marriage because, lets face it, wanting kids means wanting a family life. Ha's third world option sounds more like buying some kids at a market - doesn't come with the family life that drives the desire for most of us.
I think I must have been grievously misunderstood. We have members living in various "less developed countries" which as economic and social conditions deteriorate in the US may be a misleading and non-descriptive term. Most of these countries have a considerably more solid banking system and greater growth than we do. Some of these various forum members do have families, and I cannot see any way in which this resembles a marketplace for kids.

When I have traveled to LDCs it has seemed to me that it might be easier to raise children there, than here in crazyland. Certainly it would be easier to stay married to the kids mother than it is here. Who has a more sane family life here in America, native Americans, or any number of middle class families from Asia? And their kids and the families as a whole show fewer signs of social pathology than other groups, including native white Americans. No matter where you look, if it takes effort, dedication and solid families, Chinese, Korean, Indian and other Asian immigrant children or the children of immigrant parents are at the head of the class. And don't forget, affirmative action works against, not for, these groups.

Parent/child relationships have not been the easiest in America since at least the late 60s. And just look at the pressures on families now-and I don't mean financial pressures. It often seems to be as if lunatics have taken over many positions of social power in education, government, etc. I saw an amazing thing downtown yesterday. An immigrant girl about 5 had become separated from her mother who was on the opposite corner of a very busy intersection. The girl was getting more and more agitated, and seemed that she might just start to run. All these men were trying to calm her down, but they seemed reluctant to just grab her arm. Finally a woman standing way back in the crowd just shot her arm forward and grabbed the kid by her arm and held her until the mother could cross. I was watching this from another corner, and I thought that it was quite possible that this child was going to run out into traffic, with who knows what result.

If I were young today and I wanted marriage I would be marrying and making a family in whatever place I could afford that hadn't yet succumbed to the mass psychosis of modern looneyland USA.

Ha
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Old 05-25-2013, 01:16 PM   #53
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Ha, how could you fail to conclude your remarks with this summary?

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Old 05-25-2013, 01:49 PM   #54
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I am female and self made, so please take these thoughts with a grain of salt. And a chuckle here and there...

If a woman has grown up in a family with money, then perhaps her dowry should be quite substantial if maintaining a certain standard of living is an issue. If she does not agree, run like hell.

Now I'll be serious...money, sex, and in-laws seem to be the biggest sticking points in a marriage. If those issues are not harmonious before anyone says "I do", do both of yourselves a big favor and stay single.
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Old 05-25-2013, 01:54 PM   #55
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Get to know Scientist or Engineer chicks. We tend to be highly analytical and good at calculating compound interest. And we combine high-paid careers with a lack of fashion sense, so no splurging on clothes or shoes.
Guilty as charged!

Love this post...so true
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Old 05-25-2013, 01:55 PM   #56
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Guilty as charged!

Love this post...so true
So do their daughters.
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Old 05-25-2013, 02:14 PM   #57
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I guess I'm one of the few who married an opposite in the money attitude department, but it works for us.

I met DH in high school. He has a very "hands off" attitude about money. Handling finances, bill paying, investing, any kind of money management makes him itchy, squirmy and likely to get up and walk out of the room. He always appreciated that I loved dealing with all of that and that that's where my natural inclination and talents lie. His participation was as the reliable provider and mine was as the very conservative household manager/domestic engineer.

For both of us our priority was that I was a full-time mom. Being that he was the only earner he liked to spend without thinking, he felt he deserved to splurge on stuff. Mostly electronics or camping gear or books. Nothing high end or luxury. Our fanciest car was a Camry. But he was always spending, accumulating, acquiring. On the other hand, my cheap thrills come from economizing, saving and keeping track of it all. He always trusted me. He didn't hide his "spend for fun" ways and I always tried to share with him how well we were doing if I could keep him from tuning out or leaving the room. We didn't have any money fights because he just didn't want to know.

In about 2007, 2008 he felt his job was looking insecure and he started paying attention to my ideas about paying off any debt and saving as much as possible, just in case. I showed him a spreadsheet showing that if we kept our monthly expenses down that he could RETIRE and we'd be just fine on his pension. After that he was willing to do just about anything that would help him get to the point of retiring, including controlling his spending. His natural tendency is still to acquire stuff but he sticks to thrift stores and an occasional eBay find.

This thing of being financial opposites could have been a disaster if we didn't have enough income but we always did. I would have liked to have saved more and he would have liked to spend more. We balance each other out and that's why it works. I'd like more participation from him in the financial department but so far I'm content with him being cooperative. He's now willing to stay through a conversation about money (I keep it short) and will do just about anything to stay retired.

We both enjoy him being retired. Despite our natural differences, we got here as a team.
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Old 05-25-2013, 02:39 PM   #58
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So do their daughters.
Pssst...I'm an Engineer chick.

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Old 05-26-2013, 12:29 AM   #59
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If I were young today and I wanted marriage I would be marrying and making a family in whatever place I could afford that hadn't yet succumbed to the mass psychosis of modern looneyland USA.
+10

There are a lot of things I love about the U.S., but IMO it's maybe the hardest place on Earth to have a healthy, long-term relationship. Hyper-consumerism and hyper-litigiousness stack the odds atrociously against you.

If my goal were to find the love of my life and spend the rest of my life with her, I would head straight to the nearest international airport.
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Old 05-26-2013, 05:56 AM   #60
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I guess I'm one of the few who married an opposite in the money attitude department, but it works for us.

I met DH in high school. He has a very "hands off" attitude about money. Handling finances, bill paying, investing, any kind of money management makes him itchy, squirmy and likely to get up and walk out of the room.
That can work as long as the "spender" knows it's an issue. I worked with a guy whose style of money management was to spend until he started bouncing checks because he never balanced his account. He'd then close that account and open a new one.

When he married he just signed the back of his paycheck, gave it to his wife, and she gave him a cash allowance. It worked for them, they've been married 30+ years.
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