One of my main arguments for getting on the path to financial independence so early was that money is the root of a lot of problems. I have lost friends over money, I have broken up over money and a lot of divorces are a result of financial stress. So, my goal was never to depend on a man for money and to have a smooth relationship once money was not an issue.
Soon after I met my ex-boyfriend, the two of us decided to travel the world together. I was well on my way to financial independence, with rental income, investments and a location-independent freelance income. He had way more money than I did. I thought finances would never be an issue for either of us.
I offered to split all expenses right down the middle, which surprised him, as he was used to treating his partners most of the time. That kind of independence fascinated him but also proved unsettling.
He could not understand that, even if I could afford to splurge here and there for a yearlong trip, I had plans to live a frugal lifestyle. I would turn down his offers to pay both our ways for something that did not align with my values. I would spend time researching the best accommodations, while he would be happy picking out the first expensive hotel that crossed our way for the sake of convenience.
After five years in a relationship, we broke up. Our long-term financial goals were not in sync, and trying to adjust to the other’s way of spending was becoming stressful.
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We owned property together, and I bought it off him in cash within a few days of breaking up. I could see how surprised he was to see me take out my checkbook and buy him out. We had discussed one of us staying and renting the other half from the other, but I wanted a clean separation. This was why I had worked so hard to reach financial independence. When I see people staying in a bad relationship because they can’t afford rent on their own, or child support, I feel for them.
With this new life lesson — that money is not a sure way to find relationship bliss, or at least smooth out the bumps along the way — I didn’t care at all that my next boyfriend was broke.
We get along great. Plus, there is my pile of freedom money if we need anything, right? Well, not exactly. My savings do come in handy when I want to do something he can’t afford, and I happily treat him. But I also have a planner’s mindset: I see far into the future, and money for me is a big part of having a safe and comfortable one.
I get frustrated that he lives in the present and doesn’t mind that an emergency could arise tomorrow. With the recent government shutdown, I have read stories of public servants living paycheck to paycheck, who suddenly can’t afford rent or car repairs because they have no idea when their next payday will come.
My boyfriend is in a similar situation with his unpredictable income stream, and it causes stress in the relationship that I push him to try to earn more, save more and be more financially resilient when he just wants to enjoy today.
As with any personality trait, when it comes to money, I think there are core values that are unique to each individual, depending on how we were raised, our disposition, and how we deal with earning and spending money.
Some people who grew up poor might have a poverty mindset and expect to be broke all their life, while others who were raised in a poor household might have a fighter mindset and a need to be financially secure. I grew up middle class, but seeing my family go through a job loss made me never want to worry about money again.
Then, regarding spending, there are mindless spenders who never question why they swipe their card, and then there are value spenders who only spend if the purchase makes sense and offers a benefit.
I have not figured out the secret to a perfect financial relationship yet. The only thing I know is it is about much more than having some money saved. My nest egg will make life easier in case of a crisis, but it does not guarantee relationship bliss.
Click through to read more about surprising ways money affects your love life.
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