We hear so often that many couples are money opposites, that their differences lead to some fierce financial fights.
Nonetheless, would you believe a new survey that says Americans find frugality desirable in a mate? Ally Bank reported that 55 percent of Americans are attracted to people who are good at budgeting and saving. Another 18 percent of survey participants are drawn to mates who are penny pinchers and avoid debt (that’s my sweet spot).
But for my contest “Honey, I Need Some Money!” I want to hear from couples who are money opposites. Tell me if you’re battling with your partner over money issues. Message me at
In the meantime, I thought I would answer some questions I’ve received from readers about couples and their money woes.
Question: I sold my home after being upside down for several years. I have $10,000 left on the mortgage before being debt free. Do I rent or move in with my boyfriend? He is not on the debt-free train and we can’t get married because he owes the IRS. I am 40 with two children. I don’t want to be ruined by my partner’s bad decisions.
Singletary: You are right to be concerned about the financial habits and values of your boyfriend. That’s the bigger picture I see because you can still get married if he owes the IRS. I assume what you meant was you would like him to take care of that debt before you get married.
I would not move in with him. Give him some space to get his financial life together. If you think he’s the one, spend some time watching how he digs out of his debts, and you both take a premarital class that you should complete long before there is a proposal or wedding planned.
Q: My partner and I are trying to pay down student loans. He seems to be on board but does get upset or irritated when we go over budget. I am struggling to find a way to motivate him to stay on track and watch our spending habits. My nickname is “Auditor” when it comes to finances, but it is getting lonely being the one to constantly remind him that we can’t spend money. How do I keep myself motivated and motivate him to take a more active role in our debt repayment plan?
Singletary: Sometimes it helps to bring in a third party to help make your case for better money management. I suggest you go to nfcc.org, which is run by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. You can find a member agency that provides financial education and money-management advice.
Here’s a question that isn’t about a couple being financial opposites from each other but from parents who are constantly bailing them out.
Q: My son is 40, married with three kids. He has just asked us for major financial assistance again. He is a self-employed caterer and doesn’t make much profit from his business. We already pay his car insurance. Neither he nor his wife can control their spending. I think he/they may be ready to accept professional budget counseling and perhaps business counseling, which we would be glad to pay for instead of bailing them out every few years. Any suggestions?
Singletary: Often you have to let folks fall before they learn to pick themselves up. Here’s what I would do:
●Give them a reasonable amount of notice and then let them know you will not be paying his car insurance anymore. I mean, really. He’s a grown man.
●Encourage him to talk to someone at the Small Business Administration for advice. If he is not making enough profit in his catering business to help take care of his family without support from his mommy and daddy, he’s got a hobby, not a business.
●Send the couple to nfcc.org. And you don’t have to pay for help. “The vast majority of NFCC member agencies provide free access to budget counseling and a number of financial workshops,” said Bruce McClary, a spokesman for the NFCC.
●Turn off the financial faucet. If they can’t lean on you, they will have to figure out how to live within their means.
Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or email@example.com. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to http://wapo.st/michelle-singletary.