Singles advice guru Marnie Macauley has humorous and savvy solutions for singles struggling with money problems in their relationships.
My dear Singularians, today we turn our attention to Cash! Dough! Coin! Bucks! Moolah! Scratch! Gelt!
Maggie was madly in love with her tennis teacher. Imagine how mad she was when she learned he was madly in love with her stock portfolio. And then there is Crystal and Trey. When these passionate lovers moved in together he suddenly learned that her money was hers … and that his money was hers too. He’s now sleeping on his sofa (or is it hers?), waiting for an appearance on Judge Judy. How can a little thing like gelt get in the way of love? Easy.
Relationships are as much about “business” as they are about bathing together in Bollinger. Once the bubbles go down the drain, someone’s got to pay the water bill. Financial disputes are among the leading cause of break-ups among couples and even friends.
Can money and “meaningful” relationships co-exist? Of course. It just takes two words: “What’s fair?”
BABY IN HER BANKBOOK
Dear Marnie: My boyfriend and I have been living together for six months and we constantly fight about money. I’ve always paid my bills on time and buy only what I need. He’s an impulse shopper and we’re getting into major debt. I make more money than he does and I feel like it bothers him. I’ve lived on my own for five years, while he’s lived with his dad who pays for his extras. The last time I tried to tell him that bills come first he threw a beer on the floor. — Losing It in Long Beach
MARNIE SAYS: You partnered with an infant, doll. This 175 pound babe has the power to crush your checkbook and your life. Stop the money train, honey. And while you’re locking up your assets, ask yourself why an independent, successful, lioness rolled the dice on a daddy’s boy who throws beer tantrums when he doesn’t get a Blackberry? But … finances first.
Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:
* Show and Tell: Tell him you’re going broke. Show him the bills. If he has more brain cells than a Cheerio, when he gets to a big negative number, he might get it!
* Insist the two of you negotiate a fair plan together. The mommy-bad-boy routine is further stunting what little maturity may be lurking in his rattle. You must both be adults, equal in power.
* Agree on three basic principles before laying out your plan:
-No secrets and no raiding of the coffers. Open and honest must be your domestic policy.
-Bills come before 3D TV’s and digital doohickeys.
-His ATM access is axed. Plastic is to the impulse buyer as free wine is to the boozer.
* Budget expenses and debt paying must be based on reality, not “I’m entitled!” Choose priorities together with the singular vision of two generals mounting a battle plan. Consider a debt counselor to unsnarl you.
* Elect a banker (you).
* Budget some Mad Money. Create separate accounts without accountability. If he buys an Iphone5, fine — as along as he remains within his joy-toy cash budget.
Most important, run to counseling. This play requires a bigger fix than a positive balance sheet. Find out what’s really fueling his spending — and your tending. If he refuses, leave him to his sandbox or you’ll wind up changing his dirty diapers or shoveling yourself out from under them.
LOANER A GROANER
Dear Marnie: A year ago I loaned a pal a thousand bucks when he was out of work. He told me he’d pay it back in about six months. Three months ago he got a good job and so far, he hasn’t repaid. My girlfriend is furious and thinks I should demand it, no excuses. I’m thinking that if he had it, he’d have paid me, so why embarrass the guy? — Stiffed in San Diego
MARNIE SAYS: Correction Friend. The issue at hand is why you’re afraid of embarrassing yourself? You blokes can kick pigskin gravy boats across football fields, but when it comes to asking a pal to pay up you turn into pudding pops.
Getting It! Your Personal Strategy
* What’s really getting to you? Pick one. If you ask him, he’ll: A) get mad and think you’re a weenie; B) get mad and think you’re cheap. C) quit being your bud. All of these scenarios are just sucker-punching your dignity, your fear, and your wallet. Get it straight. He either blew it, or is using your “weenietude” to hold back the cash.
* Ask, with finesse. You’re fiancée’s approach is a bit ham-fisted. Use a calm, direct approach: “About the thou last year, buddy … when can I expect it?”
*Can’t ask? Lie a little. Tell him something weird popped up on your last check-up. Drop a hint that a grand will pay for the ultra-sound, so when can he shell it out? This will force him to tell you something, which, in turn, will tell you whether he’s a decent fellow who’s still too broke to speak up, or he’s a deadbeat who intends to spirit your grand to the grave.
* If it’s the latter, then let your girlfriend take her ham-fisted whack at it.
BEDROOM V.S. BOARDROOM
Dear Marnie: I recently quit my job to start my own business. When I made the decision, I had complete support from my boyfriend. We knew it would take approximately a year for my business to really get off the ground. Though he agreed to help me financially, I find I’m unable to ask him for the money I need. I’ve always taken care of myself and I can’t bring myself to talk to him about this. Even though I’ve used up my savings and don’t know how I’ll pay next month’s rent, I still can’t seem to tell him I need help! — L.A. “Entrepreneur”
MARNIE SAYS: First, I salute anyone with the courage to give up the “safe” life and strike her own claim. But, while your will was noble, your way was dicey. As I get a migraine budgeting my checkbook, I checked with marketing guru and CEO of BluBlocker Sunglasses, Joe Sugarman.
Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:
* Diagnose the Doom. Ask yourself, what’s scaring you? My hunch is you fear once you’re in his wallet, you’ll be wedged in there like a year-old pizza coupon. (We’ll skip the “why-didn’t-you-think-of-this-before-you-gave-up-your-day-job” part.)
* You could change “lenders.” Banks and private investors will cough up bucks for worthy ventures based on collateral, a business plan, and a track record. Without collateral, you have to borrow high risk capital and give a good chunk of your business away.
* Turned down? Go to those you know. Sugarman suggests offering them the chance to double their money from the first profits, after which you own the business. “Who could resist a deal like that?” he adds. (The man is a tycoon. Believe him.) If you go with family or other intimates (like cousin Harry or “the boyfriend”) insist on a pure business deal. They’re investors.
-Make it clear on paper, not napkins.
-Make it separate. Fax paper and feather nighties go on different credit cards.
-Make it fair. Investors don’t get a glow-in-the-dark logo key ring and you don’t give up your first born if you go belly up. Sugarman suggests you tell them that if the business fails, you’ll send them a check every month until they’re paid back
With these ground rules in place, if (heaven forbid), the biz bombs, this plan will up your chances of tidying up without mucking up your relationship or your credit rating.
RICH MAN, POOR MAN
Dear Marnie: I just ended my last relationship with a very sensitive, starving artist! I’m 28, considered very pretty, and make an excellent living in advertising. I’m often invited to a pricey golf club where I see very affluent couples, and I’m not ashamed to admit, I want to marry rich. So, where are they? (Those millionaire sites are scammy.) Do you agree with the old expression that it’s as “easy to marry a rich man as a poor one.” —Looking in Los Angeles
MARNIE SAYS: Whoever coined that idiot phrase was no doubt the same PR fellow who advised Paula Deen to “be who I is” on The Today Show. Here’s the truth bomb. IT’S NOT AS EASY TO MARRY A RICH GUY AS A POOR GUY. (Are we stupid here?) But more to the point, do we want to? Okay, maybe. But what’s the price?
Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:
* Any female who lists “rich” as no. 1 on her “Prospect Resume” may wind up paying a high tax for the privilege. Is “rich” really all that it’s cracked up to be? Look below:
-He’s rich but as exciting as watching your clothes in the spin cycle.
-He’s rich and has “Control Freak” tattooed to his chest.
-He’s rich and as usual, is in a fifth world country – while you’re having your first child.
* “But Marnie!” you cry, “I meant rich and adventurous, smart, caring, sophisticated, sane …” Hmmm. See how your demands thickened and your candidates thinned? That’s because “rich” is a “condition” (much like shingles) not a character trait. If you’re willing to settle for a “condition” — keeping thinking as you are, but if you’re also interested in a truly good life, you may have to broaden your criteria.
* Come up with some. We know you adore artists so find one who’s actually sold a painting and might sell another in his lifetime. Adjust your list from merely rich to real — on all fronts.
* Remember those golfer couples you envy? Ask for help on your mission. Show them your adjusted list. Chances are they’re not breaking bottles of Crystal with goldbrickers.
* You’re in advertising. Don’t they have more conventions, seminars, workshops than Mary Kay? Network among your more interesting peers.
Finally, money is what we make, not what we are. Instead of that old maxim, try this out: “IT’S AS EASY TO MARRY A RICH FOOL AS A POOR GEM.” Consider changing the word “rich” to “potentially rich.”
Copyright © Marnie Macauley / 2013 Singular Communications, LLC