Roses and chocolate might be the default Valentine’s Day gift, but money management expert Valerie Coleman Morris says there’s no better way to express your love for your partner than a single long-stemmed rose … and a copy of your credit report. “People cringe when I say that, especially I’m doing my seminars,” says Morris. “The air is sucked out of the room. My whole point is if you can’t say, ‘Here honey, this is my credit history,’ good, bad, or otherwise.”
The Emmy award-winning journalist, who will be moderating “Building a Strong Financial Future – What’s in Your Purse” at the BLACK ENTERPRISE Women of Power Summit, asserts that such a gift communicates that you’re ready to talk about important financial matters and you’re looking to either get your finances in order or improve them. What better way is there to say ‘I love you?’” she asks.
According to Morris, couples are often reluctant to discuss money matters and that finances are the leading cause for divorce. “Good news or bad news, it needs to be known. Then, as a couple, you can make a plan for how you are going to rectify the situation; how you’re going to use your money going forward, what are going to be the guidelines and disciplines?” she asks. “If you don’t talk about it, everything can potentially get derailed.”
Morris also offers the following tips for couples looking to either marry or cohabitate:
Get to financially know the other person. “You need to know what kind of saver they are. Are they a spender? Are they a saver? Are you?” asks Morris. “Have conversations about it, hopefully, before you get married. If you’re already married, put that on your agenda to do every month. Talk about your money because you can talk about it now or you can fight about it later. “
Get on the same page. Morris recommends having a conversation along the lines of, ‘Here’s our money. This is how I manage my money. How do you manage yours, honey? I’m a good saver. You’re a spender. How do we rectify that?’ According to Morris, once you know that, then you can set allowances and each can be accountable.
Keep separate pools of money. “I always suggest to couples a three plot system; my money, his money, our money,” Morris says. “Our money is the household account. Each to contribute to it. What percentage or how depends on the income of each person.”
See a financial planner together. This allows financial goals to be heard by an impartial, but experienced, third party. “It doesn’t mean that person’s going to tell you what to do, but it means that person give you some guidelines,” she says. “Even when you have your money separate and you have a household account, but individually you have separate accounts, you still want to have a common mentality of financial intelligence.”