There are people out there that I would call innumerate. They don’t know anything about math, and they don’t want to learn.
The funny thing about “I Hate Math People” is they actually cover their ears when you mention numbers. **La, la, la**
A lot of people have a similar attitude toward money. They don’t hate it, but they don’t want to deal with it, either. They simply want someone else to take care of the money stuff.
This is not good. If someone else is handling your money, you have rendered yourself totally helpless. That person might not have your best interests in the mind. This is how people get scammed.
Broke & Divorced
I’ve seen relationships where the man handles all the money stuff—it’s usually the man—and the woman has no knowledge of any of it. The guy does a good job and everybody’s happy. That happens.
The other thing that happens: The man does a terrible job, and they end up broke. Then the wife is furious with her husband, and they get divorced.
There are all kinds of permutations to this story. I’m sure you’ve seen it play out in one form or another.
Money Is Control
Sometimes, things get really bad. Maybe the man gets abusive—either verbally, mentally, or physically (or all of the above). And the marriage turns into a prison, because the man controls all the money.
This can be disastrous—for women in particular.
They can find themselves in a situation where they don’t have access to a bank account or a credit card. They’re trying to get out of a nightmare situation, but they can’t.
They can’t get gas for the car… they can’t buy groceries… they can’t get a hotel room. Because their whole financial life is controlled by another person.
This is one of the many reasons you should force yourself to learn about money, even if you don’t want to. And when you enter a relationship, you should insist on having separate accounts—separate checking accounts, separate mutual funds, separate credit cards, separate everything.
Now, I usually recommend separate accounts so people don’t squabble over who bought the expensive yogurt. You don’t want to have that argument on repeat for 50 years.
But this is something different—this is for safety.
You need separate accounts in case the relationship becomes dangerous and you need to escape. If you don’t have your own checking account or credit cards, it’s very difficult to leave.
Of course, I’m picking on men here, but sometimes it’s the other way around. There’s a person who’s near and dear to me who was abused by his wife. So, it works both ways.
Everyone needs to control their own money.
“This Is Not Negotiable”
This is a dark topic, but you have to think about it when you enter a new relationship, especially with a total stranger. You never really know what you’re getting.
Sometimes people present themselves as one thing, but after you move in together, they morph into something totally different. This is why you need to insist on separate accounts.
If the other person insists on combining financial affairs, you have to resist and say no.
Now, he might say, “Oh, but if we have separate accounts, that means we don’t really love each other.”
In that case, you say, “This is not negotiable.”
If that ends the relationship, then maybe it wasn’t that strong to begin with.
My System Is Better!
I harp on separate accounts all the time, and it makes a lot of people angry. Because, yes, some people in healthy, safe relationships combine their finances and make it work. Then they call into my radio show and get indignant about it: My system is better!
Look—if you’re in a stable, long-term marriage, and you have a system that works, that’s fine.
I know of one couple where the husband handles all the money, and he gives his wife an allowance. They seem happy. But wow—that would not work for me.
Jared Dillian is an investment strategist at Mauldin Economics, a former head of ETF trading at Lehman Brothers, and the author of The Awesome Portfolio. Subscribe to his weekly investment newsletter, The 10th Man, and listen to his daily radio program, “The Jared Dillian Show.” You can follow Jared on Twitter @dailydirtnap.