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  • Communication about Money

    Hivemind,

    We're in our Communication block in our residency education program at the moment and I'm going to give a talk on money as part of it. Had always wanted to make this about communication and personal finance.

    Wanted to get some unofficial ideas to convey to the residents especially from more experienced people.

    Respond if you feel the urge to the following:

    • Do you think you communicated enough about money with your SO before you became committed to them? (marriage, exclusive lifetime relationship)

    • What did you do well or wish you had done differently?

    • What is your biggest ongoing disagreement with your SO about money?

    • Can you given an example of a difficult communication with someone who wasn't your SO about money? (parent, sibling, close friend etc)


  • #2
    1. No, minimal discussion, especially since I was debt free and marrying into about $50k of student loans.

    2. Early in our marriage, we had what I called “financial summits” yearly, for budgeting and planning. - did well.

    Early in our marriage, I would often “go ballistic” when the credit card statement would arrive in the mail. - did not do well.

    3. I think we are generally on the same page except with regards to the house. I would argue that most expenses related to improving, furnishing and decorating the house are unnecessary at this point. I would state her position (from my perspective) is that the house can always use some improvement.

    4. Yes, I have had difficult conversations with both of my parents (divorced) regarding their plans for their estates. As far as I am concerned, this is far from optimized (from a tax efficiency perspective), but since the outcome is not critical for me, I have stopped trying to fix it (especially since no one really asked me for my input).

    Another difficult conversation has been to what extent, if any, we should support my in laws.

    Great topic, BTW. I look forward to seeing what the others say and how you incorporate this into your presentation.

    Comment


    • #3
      Married 35 years.  We've bickered over our schedules mostly; rarely over money.  The only tick was the issue of tithing.  We settled on a % of (non-existent) spending budget, rather than a % of gross.

      Done well or poorly?  thousands of dopey decisions, but somehow it all turned out fine, exceeding our ( non-existent) expectations. Truly , too many dopey decisions to even start a list.

      Ongoing SO disagreement?   My husband keeps buying historical firearms and a historical car. Solution:  he got his own checking account so I  won't know what he spends.

      Difficult conversation:    Last week semi-estranged sister asked my opinion about some legacy money she inherited and might distribute among nieces and nephews.  Instead of saying, " Well, you cheap butt, we were sundered 22 years ago when you did not share it."  Instead I advised, " If you distribute this now, do it equally.  Equal sharing can bond family together.  Excluded family will eventually discover, and be repulsed further away.  Some nieces/nephews will capitalize on the money; others will fritter it away.  The bonding will last.

       

       

       

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      • #4


        Do you think you communicated enough about money with your SO before you became committed to them? (marriage, exclusive lifetime relationship) What did you do well or wish you had done differently? What is your biggest ongoing disagreement with your SO about money? Can you given an example of a difficult communication with someone who wasn’t your SO about money? (parent, sibling, close friend etc)
        Click to expand...


        1. No communication about money since I was almost FI by the time I married.

        2. I wish we had a bigger home when we had our child growing up and in laws with us. Instead we saved.

        3. The disagreement is the unwillingness of my spouse to learn about our money, investments we have and how to manage them. She does not want to think of the "run over by bus" moment.

        4. I have always told my father to not save so much and learn to spend on himself but he never listened. That is the problem with savers, who save for savings sake.

         

        Comment


        • #5
          Only married 8 months so I can only contribute to a degree:

           

          1.  Hard to judge "enough," but I made it clear that we always needed to be open about money since I've seen many marriages (including my parents) have money disputes as a common denominator.  However, we quickly agreed to be open when discussing money and making big purchases/investments.

          2.  Still early for me to say.  I think it's fair to say I overanalyze things as we try to plan ahead and she is less engaged with the process.  I can say that while I like my 10:00 pm ideas that I should hold those for earlier in the evening.  ops:

          3.  Probably disagree most that I'm "too" into learning financial info while she really isn't into it at all.  I think this is due to us coming from various background and situations.  I'm from a divorced family that didn't manage money well; she comes from a family whose dad has done very well and manages things well.  I'm a bit impatient and like planning ahead when sometimes I know that I need to stick to the plan and follow the timeline.  I think we are both slowly moving towards the middle.

          4.  I've definitely had difficult talks with my mom about money and her spending habits.  Granted her situation is changed now that she has married a very nice guy who is financially literate and also grew his nest egg through a real estate sale.  I always wonder how effective I am because she showed up to my med school graduation with a new car because "the other one was paid off."  I'm not big on ceremonies so I spent some time breaking down that decision and how that huge car payment is money that should go towards her retirement, which like many Americans, is very very low.  These difficult conversations occur every Christmas it seems, so I'm learning to just help break down the info and offer my support, but my wife is helping me get centered on the fact that I can only lead a horse to water but not make them drink.

           

          MPMD, I have to give kudos to you about discussing communication & finances with your residents.  This is often ignored, and like many other aspects of life, communication (and self awareness) is absolutely critical for a solution.

          Comment


          • #6
            1.  No, we discussed very little about money.

            2.  I've made a budget and communicated that to my wife, so she knows about how much she has to spend.  Unfortunately, lifestyle creep is strong with her.

            3.  We fight mostly over her spending, especially recurring payments (gym, housecleaner, wanting to buy a new car, etc)

            4. I discussed my grandmother's financial situation with my mother (her mother) since my grandma is in pretty significant debt and is starting to be unable to afford basic living expenses (property taxes on a small house).  It went nowhere.

            Comment


            • #7
              Yes - while when dating brought it up and even more so when closer to engagement.  Marriage is financial as much as emotional entanglement.  She had no debt; I had enough to be a drag.

              We are both low usage though like nice splurges.  We should have set a forced budget to spend a little more on some categories early on that wouldn't have caused unnecessary squabbles.   One CAN oversave and cause issues too.

              Charity/Donations.  Much like jz, tithing and what it means and how much and where.

              Parents.  varying reasons.  One does options too much for fun.  other does ultra conservative mattress stuffing; while the last has no savings and purely on SS.   they all cause me heartburn for one reason or another.

              Comment


              • #8


                3. The disagreement is the unwillingness of my spouse to learn about our money, investments we have and how to manage them. She does not want to think of the “run over by bus” moment.
                Click to expand...


                How do you cope with this? I walked to work for 14 years so getting 'hit by a bus' could have happened!  :lol:

                I cannot get my wife interested in our investments/plan even though she is set if I get hit by a bus. It doesn't keep me up at night, but it's definitely annoying.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Husband and I married young, didn't talk much about finances. We were in college and knew we were both debt free thanks to scholarships and that neither of us ever wanted to depend on our parents for anything. We were both very independent and self sufficient which has worked well for us over time and kept us from taking unnecessary debt or overspending. We've always lived within our means and have not fought over money. I love personal finance and he doesn't like to spend and doesn't mind listening to me plan things out. That combination seems to work for us.

                  The only difficult money conversation I've had is when a cousin I had not seen or heard from in several years sent me an email asking for several thousand dollars and was talking about paying us back at some point. I knew that would never happen, gave her a gift of a couple hundred dollars and told her not to ask again. Haven't heard from her since, that was 3 years ago. It probably sounds harsh but I have a huge extended family that is not well off and we simply can't afford to pay others bills at this stage of the game.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    1. No talk at all. I had no debt and didn't ever think about money. She had about 30k loans for grad school (she hadn't started med school yet) and didn't ever think about money. If I could change one thing about our time before we were married, this would be it. Unfortunately, I wasn't financially literate then (and still not where I want to be!) so I guess that conversation never even had a chance of happening.

                    2. We've only been married almost 5 years, but so far I'm just thankful that my wife allows me to mostly take care of our finances. I feel like we are mostly in a good position this early in our lives.

                    We're still too far apart in terms of where our comfortable spending level is. I tend to want to save more and she tends to want to spend more.

                    3. Biggest ongoing disagreement is about how much to save and how much to spend per month, as well as keeping to a budget for the month so as not to overspend from our checking account.

                    4. I had a talk with my oldest brother and his girlfriend. They came to me and asked for some advice, so at least it wasn't the other way around. They had lots of debt relative to their income. Some to the IRS, some to family, etc. I had to find a way to constructively tell them that they didn't really "need" that big screen TV with tons of games and movies and a VR set that runs between $700-$800. I think it was more awkward for them to finally admit that they had made bad decisions with money in the past. Thankfully they are starting to get the debt under control. It continually amazes me how defensive people can be in regards to their spending habits.

                    Comment


                    • #11


                      How do you cope with this? I walked to work for 14 years so getting ‘hit by a bus’ could have happened! ???? I cannot get my wife interested in our investments/plan even though she is set if I get hit by a bus. It doesn’t keep me up at night, but it’s definitely annoying.
                      Click to expand...


                      The problem is that we did not have the conversations about of finances early on. She was never interested in financial education pre-marriage since she lived with her parents when not in college and her mother used her combined parent's income to run the house ( and did a great job, thank god it was not her father who did it since he is clueless about finance).

                      She is very good in billing and making sure our practice gets paid and improved out collections during the early years ( pre medicare cuts) by 100% or more. Unfortunately her financial incentive to learn stops there. She does not want to know about out investments. Part of the issue is that I have individual stocks in DRIP ( acquired pre marriage), mutual funds in Vanguard and Ameritrade, rental units and partnerships in hotels. All do well but the diversification is too much for her.

                      Luckily we have enough income coming from the stock dividends and hotel distributions that she will be comfortable but I am not sure if she can handle all that on her own.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I like the idea of the talk but have the residents already bought into the basic principles of saving and living like a resident after residency?  if they haven't done that step yet communicating with the spouse probably wouldn't be too beneficial.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I recently got divorced and having very different views on money was a factor. The ex did not tell me about a large HELOC he had on his house.

                          I would not of married him if I had known about his debts.

                          No longer in disagreement.

                          i have one brother who is good with money and one who is not.  Over the years you have some difficult conversations.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My thoughts on this (written last year):

                            http://www.roguedadmd.com/2017/05/love-and-marriage-and-money/

                            We did not discuss it prior to marriage in any detail.

                            Doing so would not have changed our decision to marry, but would have probably avoided a lot of conflict over the topic later.
                            An alt-brown look at medicine, money, faith, & family
                            www.RogueDadMD.com

                            Comment


                            • #15

                              • Do you think you communicated enough about money with your SO before you became committed to them? (marriage, exclusive lifetime relationship)

                                • yes



                              • What did you do well or wish you had done differently?

                                • nothing.  we have many experiences good and bad.  learned from bad ones.



                              • What is your biggest ongoing disagreement with your SO about money?

                                • spending.  i say she should spend less.  she disagrees.  it is not a disagreement in some ways since we both think we are right and choose not to talk about it any further.  she laughs when I try to save money.  like last week, on the radio, there was an ad about an app to pay parking meters.  I signed up for it and then was annoyed to find out it cost me a quarter to use it.  so instead I went to the store to get change to feed the meter.  she would rather pay the quarter.

                                • otherwise, Christmas spending maybe?  instead of getting support from the normally frugal community here, there were many who felt that I could meet more in the middle.    but my wife knows who she married, and she doesn't let my eccentricities bother her.



                              • Can you given an example of a difficult communication with someone who wasn’t your SO about money? (parent, sibling, close friend etc)

                                • I have had many but I wouldn't characterize them as difficult (for me).  I told them they were spending too much.  they tuned me out or got mad.  still on great terms with everyone.  sometimes the message sinks in even if there are initial hard feelings about it.  sometimes not.  I didn't emotionally invest in the outcome, more that I said what I felt needed to be communicated, they said what they felt they needed to and we left it at that.  everyone has to live their own lives.





                               

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