Love and money: Dr. Jenn Mann discusses common financial relationship issues

- Dr. Jenn Mann joined us on Good Day LA to answer your relationship questions when it comes to love and money!

Q: I am a stay at home mom and my husband is the bread winner. Since I gave up my job, he thinks he can make all our financial decisions. I have to beg him for money for groceries or household repairs but he is happy to spend freely on what he wants. He just bought himself a new set of expensive golf clubs but he won't give me money to fix our roof!

Money conflicts can create big problems with couples. A Utah State University study found that couples who report disagreeing about finances once a week are over 30 per cent more likely to get a divorce.

By insisting on making all the financial decisions, your husband is trying to control, not only the money, but the relationship. He may feel that because he is the primary bread winner that he gets to make all the decisions. But in a healthy relationship, the balance of power is more equal. In a calm moment, you need to sit down together and have a discussion about your beliefs about couples and money. If it gets too heated, you may want to have an appointment with a couples therapist or a financial manger to help you come to an agreement about how to handle things.

On a purely logistical level, I recommend you have three bank accounts for spending. One joint account that you both have access to that is meant to cover all your regular home and individual expenses (groceries, rent/mortgage, medical, gas, toiletries, etc.). The bunk of money should go into this account and you should look at your historic expenses to figure out the correct amount to make sure all bills are covered. Then you should each have an individual account that is your "play money." Even if it is only a small amount that you put in each month, you should each get the same amount of money to put in your individual accounts every month. Then if he wants to get something frivolous from that account (or you do) you can't complain.

Q: My best friend just lost his job and is struggling to make his rent. I am doing better than he is but I am not loaded. He wants to borrow $2,000 which is a lot for me. What should I do?

In my clinical experience, loaning money to a friend can really hurt the relationship. From what you are saying, it sounds like your friend has not been irresponsible with his spending, he has just hit a rough patch.

If you loan him money and then you hear that he took a date to an expensive restaurant, you may feel resentful or entitled to tell him how to run his finances. This can create a lot of tension in the relationship.

If you want to help him, you are better off giving him a gift that you can afford to give and won't feel resentful about. But, really the best thing you can do is help him to get a new job. If you are able, introduce him to people you know in his field, share websites with job postings he may not know about, and send him articles or books that might give him new ideas that could help him get employment. As they say, give a man a fish and he will eat for a day but teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.

Q: Should my kid get an allowance? If so, how much? Should they be required to do chores to get that allowance?

Teaching children about money is like teaching them to drive. If you gave a sixteen year old a BMW for his birthday but didn’t bother to teach him how to drive, is it reasonable for you to be surprised when he gets into an accident? The only way to avoid these kinds of financial car wrecks is to start educating your child early. This is especially good to do while the stakes are low.

There is no better way to help children learn the value of a dollar than an allowance, yet only 46 percent of children ages 9 to 14 receive one. Giving an allowance is the best financial teaching tool you can give to a child. Allowances should start no later than age seven. Some kids are developmentally ready earlier. It is recommended that parents begin giving children an allowance as soon as they meet all of the following criteria:

•    are aware of the relationship between money and purchasing
•    can differentiate between coins
•    are able to count, add and subtract
•    have an opportunity for spending
•    begin to ask you to buy them things when you are shopping together
•    ask for an allowance or money

The two biggest hot button issues pertaining to allowance are whether or not it should be tied to chores and how much to give. When it comes to working for money versus a regular, weekly allowance which is not tied to performance or duties, there are pros and cons to both options.

Tying chores to payment has the advantage of teaching children the link between work and financial reward, which has the potential to create a strong work ethic. This philosophy prevents children from feeling a sense of entitlement and allows children to gain a sense of responsibility and contribution to the household. It can even help children appreciate how hard you work for your money.  On the flip side it has the potential of creating mercenary children who are less willing to help around the house without financial compensation. This can get complicated if little Joey does five out of six of his chores. Do you pay him for five chores or do you pay him nothing, since he did not complete all of his chores? It can also become complicated to keep track of all the chores that are expected to be done and if or when they are completed, especially in multiple child homes. In addition, what do you do if Joey doesn’t need the money that week and decides to forgo his chores until next week when he needs the money?

Giving a regular allowance that is not tied to chores has the advantage of being easy to keep track of. This system keeps children helping out with family chores because they are contributing members of the family as opposed to because they are trying to earn more cash. With this system children know exactly how much money they are receiving each week and can start to learn how to make a budget for themselves, with a parent’s help of course.

Many parents are unclear about how much money they should give their children for an allowance. It is important that the amount be large enough so the children can learn money management but small enough so that any splurges will not be disastrous. In figuring out how much to give your child you should also take into account: how much your family can afford to give your child, what other children are getting in your neighborhood, what financial responsibilities your child will be taking over, other financial resources your child has and whether or not their payment is linked to chores.

Most financial experts recommend giving children anywhere from half their age per week (in other words and eight year old would get $4 a week) to their full age per week (that eight year old gets $8 per week). Whatever you chose to do the money should be given to them in easily dividable denominations so they will have the option to save some and spend some. Parents should help children to have a safe place to keep their money so that it will not get lost or stolen and where they can watch it grow. Most importantly, parents need to determine in advance exactly what they expect their child to use their allowance for. That is a key part in helping your child learn money management.

Q: My fiancé asked me about my credit card debt and I lied. I totally minimized it because I am a embarrassed and afraid he won't want to marry me if he knows the truth. The lie has been weighing on me. What should I do?

It is time to come clean. Marriage is based on trust and honesty and withholding important information like this, that impacts your spouse to be, is harmful. Is your perception of his reaction based in something that he said or is this your shame talking?

It is time to sit him down and tell him the truth. It is important that you let him know why you were unable to tell him the scope of your debt before and what held you back. He needs to know how scary and vulnerable this conversation is for you. In addition to telling him the truth about your debt, it is important that you present to him your plan to pay it off.

How you got into debt is likely to have an impact. If you got into debt overspending and being irresponsible, that is likely to trigger a lot of fear in him. If you got into debt paying for school books while in college or paying medical costs, he is likely to be more understanding. If it was the first, presenting him with a plan of action (therapy to address the underlying problem, attendance at a 12 step meeting like Debtors Anonymous, etc.) will be helpful in calming his concerns.

Bio

Dr. Jenn Mann is most known as the host and therapist for VH1's long standing hit shows Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn and Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn. She is the author of many best selling advice books including: The Relationship Fix: Dr. Jenn's Guide to Improving Communication, Connection & Intimacy, SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start In the First 3 Years and The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids which have collectively spent five weeks on the best seller list. She is also the co-author of a children's book Rockin' Babies which she co-wrote with her mother, Grammy award winning songwriter Cynthia Weil. She is on the advisory board for Parents Magazine. Dr. Jenn is a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Therapist and has been in private practice for almost three decades. To learn more about Dr. Jenn visit DoctorJenn.com or check out her Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat @DrJennMann.

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