From Your Years Of Working With Couples Who Do End Up Making Their Marriages Work Versus Those Who End Up Divorcing, What Would You Say Are Some Of The Best Ways For Married Couples To Discuss And Handle Their Finances? Should We Do Separate Accounts, Joint Accounts, Or Both? Do We Give Each Other A Little Bit Of Financial Privacy To Some Degree, Or Is It Full Disclosure? Do We Have To Agree On Everything?
Doing what I do for a living, I don’t see the couples whose marriages have worked. I see those couples in my social circles and in my family outside of my professional life. People will talk about their sex lives far more straightforwardly than talk about their finances because finances aren’t typically discussed in America. Especially on Long Island, it’s a big deep dark secret about how much people make and how they spend it. When a couple comes in to me or hires me as their attorney, I find out all about their finances because we have to fill out a verified net worth statement, which sets forth all of their income, assets, liabilities and expenses.
In my opinion, finances should be completely open and shared between husband and wife. Money is the number one reason for divorce. In fact, it’s safe to say it’s the only reason. Even when infidelity is the root of the breakup, it’s mostly the money that triggers this. The secretive part of finances and the questioning of each other is what ultimately leads to divorce.
So if you’re able to share all of the finances with your spouse openly, it would pay to go to some financial expert or a family therapist to have these issues discussed openly with some professional guidance. Many factors play into the decisions on how to allocate your finances, especially when children become involved. Professional advice can save a lot of stress later on.
If you’re paying interest on a credit card at the end of the month, you’re spending more than you are earning, and making a big mistake. This deficit spending will surely negatively affect your marriage. You’re spending money on things that you cannot afford, and you’re going into a deficit spending mode. Once that happens, that’s a true sign of trouble within a marriage. It creates tremendous stress because nobody wants to pay 18 or 20% on the money you cannot afford. Purchases that may have seemed necessary at the time may not seem as important at the end of the month when they have all added up.
Suffolk County has a problematic relationship with money. Many couples believe they have to do what their neighbors are doing, otherwise, they’re not successful. If you’re doing that and end up at the end of the month having to pay interests on credit cards, you’re practicing financial suicide. You are in a fiscally irresponsible position in your marriage, which will likely lead to problems in your marriage. Whether those problems end up in a divorce is a question of personal preference, tolerance, and frustration. Many couples live together miserably, who are not happy in the marriage, but the fear of the finances is rampant. When you have kids, you are very fearful of physically separating because if you can’t afford to raise two children on Long Island living in the same house, how can you possibly afford to do that in separate houses? So, what do you do? There are two answers, you either spend less or make more. Oh, a third solution…………move away from Long Island where it is more affordable.
There is one end goal in a divorce for couples with children: let’s have our children go through high school with as little emotional and financial damage as possible. Let’s try to make them responsible adults to grow into parents and have children of their own. You could become grandparents, keep your marriage intact, hold your head high at their high school and college graduation, and sit together in the a hospital waiting room when your first grandchild arrives. At the same time, seeing your children thrive and survive in an atmosphere that is expensive and difficult to navigate.
When you get married, you’re in love and want to stay married, so do everything you can to share all of the financial decisions and the financial ramifications of spending on things. What you need is enough money to eat, house yourself, clothe yourself, and transport yourself. More than that is icing on the cake. It’s challenging to look at your neighbors who live in expensive houses and drive expensive cars. However, many of them cannot afford those houses or cars. You just see the trappings on the outside. You don’t know what they’re sacrificing, you don’t know what their credit card balance is or their bank accounts are, and the likelihood is you’re never going to know that.
Inside your own marriage, you know it. Some couples are very secretive about their finances, and it’s not until a divorce is on the horizon that one of them finds out that they are in significant debt. Before it hits a critical mass, take a grip of it, and have control over your finances before it is too late.
If you can’t afford to live here, then figure out what to do, leave, go to someplace where it’s cheaper to live, get a different job, get extra training, figure out how to earn more money and how to spend less. If those finances are known upfront instead of being discovered during a divorce, it is incredibly beneficial.
This pandemic has created such incredible financial hardships, and it’s not over; the government is still printing money. It’s going to catch up somewhere, and I live in Suffolk County, where there are hundreds of small family-owned restaurants around. Many of them are just hanging on barely with the stimulus money and PPP loans, which will all end soon. The vaccines are here now, and by the end of 2021, the government is saying that pretty much the entire nation will be vaccinated. I predict that half of these small restaurants will not exist a year from now, and that’s horrible because so many people rely upon those jobs.
So many houses are being occupied by families who used to have solid jobs and careers that are no longer viable. It will create a financial crisis in Long Island. You also have an influx of money coming out from Manhattan, and the housing market is shrinking. That will increase prices to a point where it becomes completely unaffordable for most couples to raise a family on Long Island.
The interest rates for mortgages are rock-bottom now, which also cannot be sustained. And once that interest creep starts, couples will start hurting, adjustable rate mortgages will become unaffordable, and jobs are not going to be here. It keeps me busy, but that doesn’t help Suffolk County’s populous, which is where I have lived and loved for the last 45 years.
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