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Color of Money

Love and Money, Hard to Uncouple

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, January 30, 2005; Page F01

There is a children's rhyme that comes to mind when I think of couples and money.

Part of the rhyme goes: "First comes love, then comes marriage."

Honey, I Need Some Money!

It's time for the Color of Money "Honey, I Need Some Money!" contest.

Valentine's Day will be here soon, and nothing says love like an argument about money. So, write and tell me about the funny or frustrating ways you and your partner handle your finances.

Your entry may be used in a coming column, so it should be suitable for print (in other words, nothing that's going to wind up as evidence in divorce court).

Send in your entries by Feb. 5, and please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers.

Winners will get a free consultation with a professional financial planner.

E-mail your entries to colorofmoney@washpost.com. In the subject line, please put "Honey, I Need Some Money Contest."

And even if you don't want to go public about your financial problems, tell me how you and your sweetie manage your money together.

_____Column Archive_____
Signing Over Property Often Means Signing Up for Trouble (The Washington Post, Jan 27, 2005)
Tax Refund Loans Show Price of Impatience (The Washington Post, Jan 23, 2005)
Read Michelle's Past Columns

The remainder of the refrain says a baby carriage comes next. But the truth is that for many couples, first comes love, then come fights about money.

"We all fight about money just as we do about love," because "we want to believe that neither has anything to do with the other," writes Jeff D. Opdyke, a personal finance reporter whose "Love & Money" column runs in the Wall Street Journal weekend edition. "They do, though. How you manage the financial conflicts that arise -- and they will -- determines how successful you are in preserving love."

So how do you stop fighting and fix your money problems?

By talking. Of course you may need some help in opening up the discussion. So for the Color of Money Book Club selection for February I've chosen Opdyke's book, "Love & Money: A Life Guide for Financial Success" (John Wiley & Sons, $24.95).

Opdyke writes that when it comes down to love and money, "Talk is cheap. It's the silence that's expensive. . . . Communicating about your money will better your financial life and help you and your partner build not just a stronger bank balance, but a more robust relationship."

What I really like are the stories that Opdyke tells about his own struggles with managing money with his wife of 13 years, Amy. Opdyke skips the technical stuff you often find in personal finance books aimed at couples. If you are fighting about money, you don't need a book to tell you which mutual fund to buy.

Instead, you need to read something that will help you get past the root of your arguments. Fights about money aren't about the cash you have or don't have. There's generally something else going on -- someone's scared, hurt, trying to buy their way to happiness or being miserly because they fear being poor.

The fights also aren't just because you are money opposites, Opdyke says.

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