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How I Navigate My Relationship and Finances

by SUZE ORMAN

Well, this may surprise you, but my wife KT and I have never ever, ever combined our finances. We both came into this relationship autonomous women–financially, emotionally, and personally-speaking–and we have remained autonomous women. We do combine things such as owning a home in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, but she totally controls her savings accounts, her investment accounts, her checking accounts, her retirement accounts, and I totally control mine.

Now, one would expect that I being SUZE ORMAN would tell KT what to invest in: no, I don’t. That’s because, in my opinion, that renders KT powerless.

KT is a powerful, smart, intelligent woman that needs and, thankfully, wants to know how to handle her money on her own. I absolutely educate her on what to look for, but her decisions are ultimately her own. She scours her statements every month and when she doesn’t understand something, she asks me and she also calls the advisor handling the account. It is essential she has her own relationship with our lawyers and advisors.

So, why did we set it up this way?

In my opinion, the problem in relationships is when you designate financial jobs. One usually takes over paying the bills, one usually takes over making the investments, one usually knows everything about where all the money is and the other does not.

If something happens to one person, then the other person is like, “Oh, how do I do that?” or, “Where is the money invested?” And in a time of an emotional loss, whether it’s divorce or death, that is not the time to learn how to handle your money.

So, KT knows how to handle money. I know how to handle money. KT knows how to invest. I know how to invest. KT knows where the money is going. I know where the money is going, and it’s just that simple.

Now, combining financial responsibilities is not just about how you pay bills or how you invest, it’s also about the reason why you buy what you buy, how much you spend on gifts, how much you donate. Every single financial decision we decide together.

This is important because, in reality, the person who has the most money should not yield the most power. It doesn’t matter how much you have or how little you have. The fact of the matter is you’re in this relationship together and, therefore, you both have equal power and what you do, financially-speaking, affects the person you are with. It’s subtle. Power plays are subtle.

So, again, it’s not always just about money, per se. It’s about your combined decisions and about how you spend money.

I am not talking about every penny you spend, because you also need to feel independent. I am talking about the amounts of money that your spouse would obviously care about. Now, for some of you that could be $20, for others it could be far more. But, for me after almost 20 years together, I know when to ask and when I don’t need to. I personally love asking KT. I don’t see it as an infringement on my own power; I see it as an empowerment of our union. And to say we have the most perfect union ever is putting it mildly. While obviously we have arguments, I can tell you we have never ever had an argument over money and in today’s world that’s an amazing accomplishment.

In summary, remember these 3 things when navigating finances in your own relationship:

  1. Make sure you’re both financially literate: both people should know how to handle the money.
  2. The person who has the most money shouldn’t be able to yield the most power.
  3. It’s not always about the money, it’s about your combined decisions as a unit.

SUZE ORMAN

Suze Orman is an American author, financial advisor, motivational speaker, television host, and host of the ‘Women and Money podcast. In 1987, she founded the Suze Orman Financial Group. The Suze Orman Show began airing on CNBC in 2002, running for 13 years in the U.S. and internationally. For more information about Suze Orman, go to www.suzeorman.com/.

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