Sunday, December 16, 2007

Monetary and Equity Issues that Couples in Long-Term Relationships Need To Pay Attention To

The old cliché, “Money is the root of all evil,” indeed can be a source of difficulty and trouble for individuals in adult loving relationships. Interestingly, in each of my three contemporary romance novels, money and equity are central issues. For example, in My Sweetpea: Seven Years and Seven Days, Sheila’s difficulties with Troy become magnified when his compulsive gambling begins to translate into money problems for them. In Fear of Feeling Loved, Marcia is continuously aware that Jack’s income is significantly larger than hers – especially when they go somewhere or do something that costs money. In Chapter Ten of my most recent novel, If Ever Again… It’ll be for Love, Diane and Michael, who met en route to and while at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica, discuss their differential income levels during their lay-over in the Miami airport. Below is the segment of that specific scene in which they discuss a money issue.

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As soon as they deplaned, Michael said, “Hey, we have over two hours before our next flight. How about if I treat you to breakfast?”

“That would be nice, Michael,” Diane replied as they began walking, hand-in-hand, toward the main terminal. “But now that we’re back in Florida, I have to…”

“You have to,” Michael interrupted, “learn how to just say ‘Thank you.’”

“I know, and I will. But I work. I have a job. I can pay for things, too.”

“Oh, so you have a need to be Miss Fair and Equitable?”

“Yes, Michael. I do.”

“Okay. How much money do you make?”


“What’s your annual income? Roughly speaking.”

“Not counting my alimony and child support, about thirty thousand. Roughly speaking.”

“Okay. So then for every five times we eat out, I’ll pay for four of them and you pay for one. That would be fair and equitable.”

“Holy cow,” Diane gasped, “you make four times as much as I do?”

“Roughly speaking.” (p. 150)

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As I have mentioned previously, a good friend and colleague, Dr. Bill Lambos, and I currently are writing the 2nd Edition of my 1997 self-help book, Adult Loving Relationships. One of the new chapters we are adding to the book is Chapter 27 “Monetary and Equity Issues.” Under the heading “Monetary and Equity Issues that Couples in Long-Term Relationships Need To Pay Attention To,” we offer the following introductory considerations and then list and discuss twenty three issues for individuals in adult loving relationships should attend to. Below is that segment of Chapter 27:

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“I wish we had…” is a statement we frequently hear from couples in adult loving relationships. Moreover, many times people “didn’t” because they didn’t think of it. Thus, we recommend that you and your partner review the following twenty three issues that you may want to attend to now or plan to attend to them at an appropriate time in the future.

1. Asset Allocation. The single most important thing a couple who wants to invest can do is – practice asset allocation.

2. Auto Insurance. Auto insurance can be a nightmare. It’s costly, confusing and unrewarding – until you need it.

3. Basics of Banking and Saving. Both partners need to be knowledgeable of the basics of banking and saving.

4. Basics of Investing. Discussions, plans and action are highly recommended – someday “tomorrow” will come.

5. Buying a Car. Buying a car is like no other shopping experience – the choices can seem to be endless. Purchasing a car – together – is good practice in making joint decisions.

6. Buying a Home. Owning your own home (be it a house or a condo) is part of the American Dream, but if you’re not prepared, buying it can be a nightmare. Learn as much as you can about home ownership – before you purchase one.

7. Children and Money. Up until they start earning a living, and sometimes well beyond that, children are apt to spend money like it grows on trees. It is important for parents to teach their children how to handle money responsibly – primarily by example.

8. Controlling Debt. Individually and collectively, you have to know when to hold debt… and when to fold it.

9. Employee Stock Options. More companies are providing stock options for a much broader group of employees. Wisely taking advantage of this can be tremendously helpful.

10. Estate Planning. Americans are in the midst of one of greatest inter-generational transfers of wealth in history, yet few of us have done any planning for it. Together, learn how to do this… and do it.

11. Health Insurance. Whether your employer provides you with a group medical plan or you need to buy coverage on the individual market, understanding how health insurance works is the best way to get your money’s worth.

12. Hiring Financial Help. By reading and studying, learn what to keep in mind when seeking professionals to handle your financial planning, stock trading, insurance coverage and tax returns.

13. Investing in Bonds. Bonds can provide a steady and reasonably secure income, while adding ballast to your portfolio – just make sure you really understand what you’re buying.

14. Home Insurance. Homeowners’ insurance can be a nightmare. It’s costly, confusing, and unrewarding – until you have to use it. Be sure to have the coverage you need to have.

15. Investing in Mutual Funds. It’s a mutual-fund jungle out there. Developing a simple and manageable portfolio is a recommended option to consider in your investment planning.

16. Investing in Stocks. The stock market can be a great place to turn savings into wealth – or you can lose you shirt. Learn the fundamentals you need to invest wisely

17. Life Insurance. Life insurance is a critical part of financial planning and is a necessity for anyone with dependents who would be affected financially by your demise. Yet life insurance is one of the hardest financial products to understand and it is sold by agents who are sometimes more concerned with their commissions than your needs – be cautious and knowledgeable when purchasing life insurance.

18. Making a Budget. Individually and collectively, keep spending under control so that you get the most out of every dollar.

19. Planning for Retirement. Achieving a comfortable retirement in the 21st Century requires a new approach to retirement planning. Think everything through carefully and plan for your needs (and wants).

20. Saving for College. It is not rocket science… just common sense. By starting early and investing regularly, your children may have a wider choice of colleges, and paying the bills won’t hurt as much.

21. Setting Priorities. Unless you are independently wealthy, you will not be able to have everything you want – set your priorities carefully and honor them in our actions.

22. Taxes. Among the long list of necessary evils we must encounter throughout our lives, perhaps the most constant – taxes – is also the typically least understood. With some basic knowledge, however, you can know what you need to know to avoid getting hurt.

23. 401(k)s. By some, this is considered the most important tool you’ve got for retirement. Learn how to make the most of it.

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Question: What are some things that you and your significant other do to assure that money and equity issues do not become a problem for you?


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