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Color of Money

Honey, I Stretched The Fiscal Truth

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, February 27, 2005; Page F01

Well, the results are in for the "Honey, I Need Some Money" contest. Let's just say I winced more than I laughed.

Based solely on the entries I received, many couples act like roommates who insist on labeling all of their own food in the communal refrigerator. Others clearly have different financial styles.

_____Column Archive_____
Be Cautious About Merging Your Money With Your Honey (The Washington Post, Feb 24, 2005)
Embarrassment of Riches (The Washington Post, Feb 20, 2005)
Read Michelle's Past Columns

One reader from Maryland wrote, "I pay the bills on time, and he pays when it is convenient. I am about to pull out my hair."

But it was financial dishonesty that dominated a lot of entries.

"Before I married my ex-husband, we had the money discussion," wrote a reader from Seattle. "I laid out my debts (car payment, mortgage, credit cards) and my income. He told me how much he was making but said that he had no debts besides a car payment that would be gone by the time the wedding rolled around. I believed him. Marriage is about trust, right?"

In her case, wrong. Her husband had a secret debt life.

"Talk about a stunning revelation! He didn't consider his money problems to be any business of mine, even though [they were] bringing my credit into jeopardy. When I finally filed for divorce, he told me, 'I never thought you'd do this to me over money.' I told him it didn't have anything to do with the money, honey."

Then there were the checking-account challenged.

"After a certain incident, I completely handle the checkbook and my husband has to ask for a check on an 'as-needed' basis," one reader from Springfield wrote. "My husband loves to go to computer shows, and I thought nothing of handing the checkbook over. But one day I noticed that we only had a few dollars in the [account]. My husband had spent hundreds of dollars at one show. He said, 'But we had money in the checking account.' I agreed that we had money, but only because I hadn't yet written checks for the utilities, etc. Fortunately we had some savings and I was able to cover this indiscretion."

Most often, however, it was financial opposites who were living unhappily ever after.

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