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Love and Money, Hard to Uncouple

"Financial compatibility isn't about meshing perfectly with your partner all the time," he writes. "We all have money quirks; you just rarely pay attention to them until you're back from the honeymoon and begin to settle into what will become your life together. Instead, compatibility grows because you learn to take the time to talk to one another about your money."

In "Love & Money," Opdyke addresses the common financial issues couples face, such as:

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

• Should you shun someone who is your financial opposite? No, Opdyke says. But you do have to find out something about how your honey handles his or her money. A great way to begin the discussion is to order copies of your respective credit reports. "That will help you each understand one another's financial past," he says.

• Should you have joint accounts? Yes, Opdyke argues. "The logic for maintaining separate accounts is understandable and, in some cases, compelling. Often couples want to keep separate accounts so that neither person has to answer to the other for their expenditures." However, Opdyke says joint accounts don't limit you. "They're about liberation," he writes. "By seeing all the money flowing through your lives, you gain a more meaningful perspective on your family's real financial picture. More important, knowing that a spouse just might question a purchase likely will prompt you to at least think twice about the necessity of the expense."

• Should you keep a secret stash of money? Opdyke calls this money laundering. It might work like this: The grocery bill comes to $100, but you write the check for $150, keeping the extra $50 and spending it on what you want without any questions asked. "On the surface, money laundering would seem to be a quest for financial independence, much like the desire to operate out of individual financial accounts," Opdyke says. But "laundering is inherently insidious because it destroys the financial honesty and equality that is supposed to cement your relationship." Opdyke ends "Love & Money" with a truism that I think could halt (or at least temper) many financial fights in relationships: "Shine a little light on the dark recesses of your money and share your financial life openly with your partner and you'll both be amazed at how your wealth improves -- in terms of money -- and love."

If you are interested in discussing this month's book selection, join me online at www.washingtonpost.com at noon Feb. 16. Opdyke will be my guest.

To become a member of the Color of Money Book Club, all you have to do is read the recommended book and come chat online with me and the author. In addition, every month I randomly select readers to receive copies of the selected book donated by the publishers. For a chance to win a copy of "Love & Money," send an e-mail to colorofmoney@washpost.com. You must include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers so we can send you a book if you win.

Michelle Singletary discusses personal finance Tuesdays on NPR's "Day to Day" program and online at www.npr.org. Readers can write to her at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or send e-mail to singletarym@washpost.com. Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note that comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

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