Financial Literacy

These are the best personal finance reads from February 2020

By: Zandile Chiwanza on February 28, 2020
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Whenever I think of February, I first think about how it’s the shortest month of the year. The next thing that comes to mind is Valentine’s Day.

Hate it or love it, February 14 has developed into a day synonymous with expressions of romantic love and affection. Millions of people around the world spend lots and lots of money on everything from flowers to romantic getaways for their significant others. 

Discussing finances on Valentine’s Day might not be the most romantic thing ever but did you know that money is one of the leading causes of stress in relationships?

“Most couples avoid talking about money,” wrote Octavia Ramirez, founder of Paper and Coin, in a blog post from 2017.

“When done correctly, however, talking to your partner about personal finances can actually make you happier and bring you closer together.”

The following stories look at how difficult navigating money and relationships can be.

I Tried To Give My Kids Everything—And Then The Bank Called, via Chatelaine

Shannon Lambert never wanted her children to feel left out so she spent money she didn’t have on fancy clothes and birthday parties. 

“I felt like, if I was a good mom, I should have been able to give my boys $20 to buy a birthday present for their friend. I should have been able to buy school and athletic pictures. If I was a good mom, I should have been able to send them with money for after their basketball games, when the team stopped at McDonald’s. What kind of mom can’t feed her son?”

Keeping up with the Joneses almost cost her family their home.

“These things never bothered my husband. I worried about humiliating my boys; he worried about paying the bills. And although we never really argued much, there was some tension around handling the finances,” Lambert writes.

Her husband told her not to work, then cut off her money — how financial abuse traps women, via Global News

Throughout this piece, Erica Alini writes about financial abuse and the steps Sara (not her real name) took to escape it and regain her financial independence. 

Financial abuse often involves one partner “monopolizing financial resources as a way to exercise control in an intimate relationship,” Alini writes.

When Sara was pregnant with the first of her three children, her husband told her she wouldn’t have to worry about working. He would handle the finances and she would take care of the children.

“Any time she asked for more money, he would yell at her, accusing her of wasting it and telling her she couldn’t be trusted with it... If she brought up returning to work full time, she got a similar reaction. Their bank accounts were separate, so Sara had no real sense of the family’s finances.”

How Can I Get My Boyfriend to Be Honest About His Debt?, via The Cut

Charlotte Cowles offers some advice on how to approach discussing money with your partner. In this particular scenario, the couple makes about the same amount, one has some student loans and the other is debt-free. A difference in values and upbringing appears to contribute to the tension in the relationship. 

“My real concern is his attitude about our different financial backgrounds. I was raised pretty comfortably, and I’m aware that this has given me a lot of privileges that he never had. His mom struggled a lot to make ends meet. He lived with his grandmother for periods of time, and from what little he’s told me, it seems like basic necessities were tight.”

We’ve written about this before, and whether two financially incompatible can people make their relationship work.

Cowles puts it this way, “As someone who used to get sweaty and occasionally cry when talking about money with her partner, I can personally attest that it takes a lot of practice and patience.”