dear sharideth: letter #4

dear sharideth,

you, i like. i really appreciate your wit.

question for you:

should my lack of means keep me from asking my lady to marry me?

i’m certain about her, but my certainty is clouded by my uncertainty to provide. cost cutting has been the focus at work. and they are supposed to be cutting around 25% of our staff in the next few months. this creates a ton of apprehension. i’ve actually moved back home with mom (feel free to make fun). and she lives with her parents, too. it’s an annoying situation. if we were to get married, there’s no way that we would live with family. but not sure how we would make it on our own. i guess i’m a coward, but at least i’m praying about it.

your thoughts? please.

sincerely,

blessed but broke

dear blessed but broke,

thank you for the compliment.  check is in the mail.

let me ominously start by saying that i’m probably the last person you should be asking this particular question.  my opinion tends to fly in the face of those who are wiser than i.  that being said, here are my thoughts in list form:

  1. well played – congratulations on finding her.  now let’s try to figure out what to do with her.
  2. statically speaking – money issues cause more divorces than any other single cause.  i have a theory about that though.  i believe it’s the lack of communication about money that causes the problems.  being completely open about finances and how to manage them is the easiest way to stay on the same page financially and emotionally.
  3. expectations – what are hers?  what are yours?  is she going to continue to work after you have kids?  does she want to?
  4. spell it out – crunch the numbers and do it on paper.  pool your bills and come up with a base-line number of what it will take to support yourselves every month.  include all debt as though you both now own it.  because once you’re married, you will.
  5. have some grace – one or the other of you may have made some bad financial choices prior to meeting each other (or even after)it happens.  talk about it.  figure out how to fix it and how to avoid it again.  i hear Dave Ramsey has a thing or two to say about this that might help.
  6. there’s no hurry – waiting to hit your knee until after you know if you get to keep your job, is probably best.

story time!

i know a guy who was engaged to a friend of mine.  he promptly broke off the engagement when he found out her credit score.  oh yes.  that totally happened.  different priorities and whatnot.  it really was for the best.  a match they were not.

my brother makes plenty of money.  he’s been divorced twice.

craig and i made virtually no money for a very long time and have been married 18 years.  mostly happily.  i went through a phase but that’s a blog for another time and it had nothing to do with money.

i really believe it’s about your personal commitment level to doing whatever is in the best interest of keeping a healthy marriage going.

however, if the two of you are not making enough to live on your own or your job is in such a precarious position, it’s probably best to get that stabilised first.

here’s where i get myself in trouble with the financial gurus….

i don’t think you have to have every financial waterfowl in a neat little row before starting out life with the one you’ve chosen.  i do believe you have to be working together toward the same goals.  financial or otherwise.

honestly, if money problems is the worst thing craig and i ever have to face….i’m okay with that.

start with stabilising the job and getting a roof over your head that doesn’t include your parents.  if you can’t move out until you are married so that your combined resources can make that go, so be it.  it can be done.

what i don’t want you to do, is make decisions out of fear.  think it through, look at the numbers and come up with a plan.  do it together.  you’ll be surprised how motivated she gets when she knows a ring is involved.

and again, congratulations!

oh so sincerely,

sharideth

okay my lovely readers.  let me have it.  what do you think?

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13 comments on “dear sharideth: letter #4

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now, but I think this is my first time commenting. I’ve really been enjoying your posts.

    As a single 20-something who’s never come close to marriage, I can’t say I’m an expert on this. But I do think that openness is best between couples, both about money (amen to what you wrote) and about the actual proposal. I’m not saying that if/when God sends Prince Charming my way I wouldn’t want to be surprised by a ring; but if Prince Charming is worried about money and holds off on a proposal for a year, I might get worried and think he had other reasons for not wanting to propose. So in this situation, my instinct is to say, talk it out. He could tell her you want to propose but you’re worried about money. Maybe they’d both like to commit to a long engagement rather than not becoming engaged just because they can’t afford to get married and set up house together. As a girl, I say communication is key. 😉

  2. Lynelle says:

    Communication is KEY!!! Get on the same level. Whether you get married or not, make a financial plan and stick to it. Do one for yourself and encourage her to have a plan. If you do decide to get married make a financial plan for your combined debts. You could even see a financial planner to make it easier on both of you. But you MUST make sure both of you see eye to eye on the finances.

  3. riggs says:

    thank you, sharideth! this has been helpful.

  4. MichelleK41 says:

    Communication, communication, communication. It does take two to make a relationship……

  5. I agree mostly with what is being said. My biggest suggestion would be to first agree that marriage is the future plan for both. Then RUN not WALK to the nearest Dave Ramsey or Debtor’s Anonymous whether you have debt or not, or even go to couples therapy BEFORE you get married. The reason, I think, that money is the number one cause for divorce is because precious few of us have a healthy relationship with money. Communication will be worthless if one of you is a saver and one a spender. You’ll never get on the same page by yourself. They may teach us to balance a checkbook in school but handling money is lot more than that. I don’t care what your financial picture (job, savings, debt) looks like today. It will change a dozen more times in your life time, i.e, recent recession. Many people with good jobs and stable incomes lost a ton. And you have to prepared to deal with what comes up. Hoping for the best is not a plan. Kings and Prince Charmings get overthrown all the time. I guarantee you that you’ll be in the trenches at some point duking it out over money if you stay married for longer than 5 minutes. But I think with better knowledge and skills you’ll have a better chance than the average bear.

  6. As a married guy, I think you’re spot on. We’ve had little, we’ve had lots…but we communicate through it all and never fight about money. Disagree and discuss, yes…fight, no.

    We weren’t ‘financially ready’ to get married when we did. But in a way that was almost better since it forced us to work as a team every single day. Our marriage is stronger for it.

  7. Jenn says:

    Okay, so I am not married, but I do have a few little points.

    1. Living with your parents is not shameful if you know why you’re there. You are not financially able to move out and that’s fine – if you were still there because you need someone to cook your meals, make your bed and iron your clothes. Then that would be a red flag. I’ve known lots of couples who have on the way down the isle moved back home or into the home of their future in laws to save money.

    2. Money can be the downfall to a marriage if you aren’t open about it. My parents are in the process of divorcing and I know that became an issue of trust – if you aren’t willing to be open about your debt and spending with your partner it gets messy.

    3.Debt doesn’t mean you’re not marriage material. Ask anyone who’s married a medical student or a student in general – they’ll say they did it because they loved the person and not for the size of the rock. I am currently dating an almost medical student grad with a very large 6 figure debt and I am going to be going into seminary in September with my own student loan debt. We have serious debt. We know that. We know that things if we/as we proceed forward will be really hard. But we are on the same page.

    You’ve found her and that is the hard part, don’t let the money become such an issue that you let her go.

    • A student in general, as in a General Studies student? I thought I heard my name called.

      • Jenn says:

        Well a General Studies student would be in that pile of students. Basically whatever your degree is – being a student is for a period in your life – for some longer than others, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get married while you are a student.

        However, as you noted below, this has to be a carefully considered decision. If you can wait, great! As for some debts, my bf will be paying off medical school for the next 15 years, as such waiting until he’s out of debt seems like a silly idea.

    • Jennifer C says:

      Thank you for number #3.

  8. Jennifer C says:

    I know that everyone has already said this, but communication is key. Learning how the other communicates is also important.

    On to money– I work for a divorce attorney. It’s not my most shining and glorious job, but it’s keeping me from debtor’s prison.

    Hidden assets or hidden lack of assets are the biggest problems I see. People are afraid to tell their spouse what kind of trouble they’re in, and the lack of communication compounds into not communicating about anything. It’s always a mess. Always. Throw kids in the mix, and it’s an all out war. I wish I were exaggerating.

    I keep praying that I’ll wake up one day and not have a job because no one is getting divorced.

  9. My only qualm with this post is that I kept seeing “stabilising” as “establishing” minus the e. As in make sure you have things ‘stablished before you go crazy plannin’ honeymoons.

    That being said, my near-marriage experience consisted of me convincing myself that her at a minimum-wage job and me at slightly better but still covering my school costs was going to work for the first couple of years. I only had to continue to get loans.

    My parents tried to talk me out of this idea; the only problem was they didn’t have any better suggestions for a guy deadset on getting married. I was pretty much like your boy here, only they kept telling me how student loans were a bad idea. When I asked them what I should do if I stayed single, they said, “get student loans.” You see what my problem was here.

    So my suggestion is to wait it out. The lesson I learned was that if your relationship can’t handle a waiting period, you’ve got enough problems right there.

    Epilogue: Unbeknownst to me, I would end up losing the job (after I lost the engagement) and take somewhat of a pay cut as I took a less prestigious job that still made money. Bottom line: you can’t predict the future, so make a decision that will withstand the worst of outcomes.

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