The Two M’s: Money And Marriage
We all know that some people marry for money.
Both men and women marry for money rather than love.
Like it or not, money plays an important role in any marriage. There is a line from the movie The Great Gatsby that goes, “Rich girls do not marry poor boys.” The line may be a good line in the movie, but the reality is there are poor girls and boys who do marry rich people for their money.
Luckily, that’s not the story of Kim and me.
In the early 1980s, I saw a cute blond and fell head over heels in love. That cute blond was Kim. We started dating, and eventually, we got married. She’s the love of my life, my best friend, and the reason why I’m successful today. Over the years, our marriage has gotten stronger and better.
A lot of people see Kim and me today and think we’re happy because we’re rich. The reality is that when I met Kim, I was broke and a million dollars in debt after the failure of my first business selling Rock and Roll Velcro wallets. Thankfully, Kim stuck with me, and I know that Kim isn’t with me because of my money—and I’m not with her because of hers!
For a few years, Kim and I struggled financially. In that respect, we were no different than many young couples. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was stressful at times, but we worked together as a team, persevered, and had a plan.
It’s a shame that money causes people who once loved each other to break up. Usually, after asking people who share their stories with me a few pointed questions, I hear a range of reasons why money breaks up relationships. Those reasons range from bad planning, poor financial intelligence, to unmet and unexpressed expectations.
But I believe there is one main reason that money breaks up a relationship: they never talk about!
Couples should talk about money constantly—especially at the beginning of a relationship.
Because as my wife, Kim, says, alignment on money is the most important factor in a successful relationship. Couples who never talk about money will only fight about it because they never shared their vision on finances.
Kim and I even created an exit plan just as we would with a business. Happily ever after is true only in fairy tales.
That is why exit strategies are important for anything of value. I know it may be uncomfortable to ask for a prenuptial agreement before you marry the man or woman of your dreams. But it’s the ﬁnancially intelligent thing to do, especially in an age when the divorce rate is 50 percent.
Make a Plan
When Kim and I were broke, we still knew where we were going. Each year, we’d sit down and write out our financial goals. For me, it was starting a financial education company, building businesses, and investing in oil and real estate. For Kim, it was building a substantial real estate portfolio.
Each month, we’d sit down and discuss what we were doing to accomplish those goals, encourage each other, and make adjustments as needed. Everything in our life was directed towards reaching our goals, which helped us with spending decisions, life choices, and commitments. Most importantly, we communicated our goals, and there was a clear understanding of expectations on both sides.
Since we were both broke when we met, we depended on each other instead of one person depending on the other. I was no sugar daddy, and Kim wasn’t my sugar mama. Instead, we grew together.
Today, Kim and I have separate accounts, investments, and ventures. We’re both wealthy and don’t need each other to be secure financially. This makes it much easier to want each other. Because we each take care of our own financial houses, it eliminates much stress and fighting.
Be A Team
Even though we’re independent financially, we’re still a team. And we know that as a team we share in each other’s problems and celebrate each other’s victories.
As a team, we communicate constantly, making changes as needed. I seek Kim for advice on my financial ventures, and she does the same. If there are problems, we help each other out. And like a team, we’re not competing against each other. We want to see each other win, and we cheer each other on.
Increase Your Financial Education
The first gift I ever bought Kim was a class on accounting. I knew her goal of becoming a real estate investor, and I knew she’d need to know accounting as she embarked on her journey to financial freedom.
For years, we worked on our financial education, often reading books together, taking classes together, and attending seminars together. Now, we write books together, teach classes together, and give seminars together—and we’re still learning.
In any relationship, both partners need to be financially independent. This means both partners need to be financially intelligent and committed to always increasing financial education. This has always been our goal as a couple, and today, because Kim is so smart financially, she’s independently wealthy.
Learn From Mistakes (And Laugh)
Finally, understand that life is a journey. Many couples have a hard time with financial mistakes because they have the expectation that hard times won’t or shouldn’t come. Every couple faces hard financial times. It’s your response to them as a couple that will make or break your relationship.
For Kim and I, we always looked at our setbacks as learning opportunities. And because we were a team, we tackled those problems together—and learned from them together.
Also, we laugh together a lot. Kim is my best friend. When life gets hard, it also often gets absurd. If you can’t stand back with your best friend and laugh at the difficulties and absurdities of life, you’re screwed.
One of the best ways to get financially smarter is to make mistakes as learning opportunities and to stay positive and good-humored together.
A business partnership is like a marriage partnership. If you ﬁnd the right partner, life is heaven. If you ﬁnd the wrong partner, it can be hell.
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily