Embrace the June Call to Action (You Could Win $100!)

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Love and Money blogThis month at LearnVest, we’re feeling the love.

And given that June is tied with September as the most popular time of year to get married, we figure a lot of you are too. That’s why we’ve decided to turn our attention to the ever-delicate topic of love and money for this month’s call to action.

Managing your own finances is hard enough—and when you factor in a loved one’s unique beliefs, priorities and preferences, it gets even tougher.

So we want to know: What surprised you most about your significant other’s finances—and how did it influence your own approach to money?

Maybe he let his credit card debt balloon, which, in turn, inspired you to take control of your own balances. Or perhaps her diligence in paying off her mortgage early gave you the resolve to reach your own financial goals this much faster.

Whatever your experience, please share it in the comments below—and you’ll be entered for a chance to win $100! And be sure to use your email address when you comment—it won’t be visible to other users—so we can notify you should you win.

Open only to legal residents of the 50 states and the District of Columbia who are at least 18 years old as of the date of entry. Premium users are not eligible. Contest running from June 2, 2014, through June 20, 2014. We will select the most compelling entry as the winner, and his or her story may be published on the site.

LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. Unless specifically identified as such, the people interviewed in this piece are neither clients, employees nor affiliates of LearnVest Planning Services. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.

  • Annonyanka

    I was surprised that he had twice accumulated a lot of debt, but then both times paid them off within less than a year. At first I thought he had simply been irresponsible to get so much debt but then I realized they were for really good reasons (one was to finance a trip to volunteer with children in an occupied territory) and that he was responsible enough to pay off the debt quickly.

    We’ve since talked a lot about what sort of debt makes sense for our life now and I’m glad that he was “irresponsible” enough to go into short term debt for others when he was young and didn’t have other responsibilities.

  • deannale

    My boyfriend and I recently got engaged, and over the last few years, we’ve been integrating our finances more and more. Unfortunately, what I think makes our personalities very compatible, makes our financial lives a challenge. He’s practical, a saver through and through. I’m impulsive, with a tendency to live beyond my means. He has made me realize how my form of “financial freedom” (doing whatever I want regardless of what’s in my bank account) is actually holding me back…and will only get worse. As a result, I’ve made a commitment to him and to my finances, enrolling in LearnVest’s 5 Year Planner as a jump start to our new married lives together.

  • fireforeffect

    I very surprised to find he had paid off his house in 3 years (too bad he lost it to divorce prior to us meeting). We are pretty alike in terms of saving, investing, and money priorities.

  • Kelly

    when we first truly commingled finances and I saw all of my now husbands credit card statements I was surprised that he was still only paying the minimum on his balances. I have never carried a balance so we sat down and figured out a way to attack paying off as much as possible on the highest balance card and moving through them. Fortunately within a year we were able to get rid of all his credit card balance and within three more years we paid off his school loan. Now we make purcahses on our credit cards but pay everything in full each month.

  • Lauren P

    When I first met my boyfriend, I was impressed that he was frugal, like me! He was perfectly happy cooking dinner at home, and wore his clothes until they were so threadbare, they literally fell off. I had just started at a great job and was aggressively paying off my student loans… so our evenings at home were perfect.

    One day I mentioned how much I loved Mexico, and he said his parents owned a house in Cabo and would let us use it! A few months later, we were ready to go!

    I was expecting a Mexican shack (and super excited about it!). When they picked us up in an Escalade, started calling him “Mr.”, and drove us to a palm-tree lined 5-star resort… I started asking questions!

    And that’s how I found out I was in love with the most frugal trust-fund baby on the planet.

    How it changed my own approach to money:

    Just because you are able to afford something you want, doesn’t mean you should buy it–I now wait at least 1 month before buying anything “unnecessary”, and think long and hard about how “happy” it will make me.

  • Shannon

    Going into our union, I knew my husband was “better” with money than I was. He could save, had a good credit score, didn’t carry debt and paid all of his bills on time. (When we started dating, I couldn’t say the same about myself on ANY of those points.) I didn’t think I’d have much to offer our finances. However, I was ASTOUNDED to see that, despite being good with money, he was terribly disorganized with the paper end of things. He didn’t keep a check log, he didn’t have a central place for his bills, didn’t have a list of what was due/when… he did ALL of this in his head. (Not a good idea.) So when we started doing our finances together, it was really cool to not only learn from the things HE was good at, but also bring the strengths I did have (organization, details…) to the table. Just like other aspects of a marriage, each person brings their strengths and weaknesses. The key is to utilize the strengths, improve the weaknesses, and always GROW.

  • mgtaylor1021 .

    My husband is 14 years older than me and so I kind of assumed he was a better money manager than I would be. WRONG! He likes instant gratification and wants things right now rather than saving for them. His desire to spend money so freely, made me take control of our finances and create us a monthly budget. And since I am a stay at home mom it is very difficult to save, but I work every day to try and build a savings and SAVE where ever possible!!

  • Catherine

    What surprised me the most was the way my husband’s family used their influence over him regarding his finances. They consistently “borrowed” money from him with no intention of ever paying him back. After we were married, we discussed this problem at length and he has backed me up in refusing any more so-called loans to any family member. While we are not “flush” financially, we have only one small car payment and a reasonable house payment and that’s all of our debt. His family isn’t crazy about me, needless to say, but at least we sleep comfortably every night.

  • DEBRA

    What surprised me most was that at the age of 35 (at the time) he had:
    NO CREDIT CARD DEBT / NO CREDIT CARDS
    NO STUDENT LOANS
    NO CHECKING ACCOUNT (???)
    NO CAR LOANS
    NO HOME LOAN (PAID IN FULL)

    This but my rear in gear…
    I knew that a person like this would never become involved with a person like me …. I have > STUDENT LOANS, CREDIT CARD DEBT, CAR LOAN, SON ABOUT TO GO OFF TO COLLEGE and LESS THAN A THOUSAND IN SAVINGS. I now have a 2ND job with my car almost paid off ( less than 2500) , helping to pay my son’s college tuition in cash, less than 2000 in credit card debt ( after having 6,000) and paying ALL of my other bills diligently with no if, ands or buts about it. His attitude, though a little strict, has helped me to realize that I can do better financially if I try harder. Also, I EARN almost TWICE as much as HE was making but he was still willing to help me if I needed a little catching up. HE’S A SWEETIE!

  • Jenna

    When we first started dating, my then-boyfriend didn’t have a budget. I’ve had a budget for myself since I graduated college, but it was natural for me since I have a degree in Finance and am definitely a numbers person. He’s a much more right-brained personality, and he surprised me how quickly and easily he took to budgeting when we moved in together. We soon learned that we had very similar financial goals. Those discoveries have made a huge impact on our lives. When we got married, we saved up and paid for our honeymoon in cash. We saved up for a down payment on a house in less than a year. Now, we are focused on finishing up payments on our students loans, which we plan to complete in the next 5 months! We had to really tighten the financial belt to accomplish those things, and it makes it so much easier to do when you’re both striving toward the same goal and can help remind each other of that when things start to feel difficult.

  • Zenethia

    What truly upset me and appalled me much less surprised me…was the fact that I was being deceived on a daily basis( the wife is the last to know ?) he is a successful physician who piled up the financial debt:bought himself an interest in race horses all the while crying poverty( he earned in excess of more than a million dollars a year) refused to pay the mortgage and other debts: stole cash from my purse on a daily basis[I found the cash hidden in a coffee tin in the bottom drawer of his desk at the office}..he made sure to destroy my credit rating and made sure the house went into foreclosure status…when all of debts could have been paid easily…for me,trust went out of the window…I am a professional woman however, I was a stay at home mom sine I had a special needs child ….thoughts anyone ?

  • ReneeG

    I was actually very pleasantly surprised to know that my fiance was more responsible with his finances that I was – he had very little credit card debt (less than $2K), no student loan debt (despite having a bachelor’s degree) and his only real debt was his truck payment. It definitely pushed me in the right direction – to become more responsible with my own debt so he didn’t have to pay the price. I consolidated my credit card debt and quit using credit altogether. I’m happy to say that we finally paid off my credit card debt after 2 years of marriage and were able to purchase our first home. His financial responsiblity motivated me to become financially responsible!

  • Alvina

    I was surprised how my daughter -in low -”manages” her money. I was shocked when i knew that she takes credits and student loans and spending that on her personal needs and gadgets . She is 26, married, has a full-time job. She has a good opportunity to save money and to pay har debts but instead she prefers just changing her majors in school ( she already changed 5) and take student loans again and again . Once i would asked her why don’t just stop spending more that she earns, pay her debts and start making some savings? She didn’t get my point . “Banks offer – I take ” – that was her response.

  • Katieo00

    What surprised me most was the fact that, not only was he debt free (and had been his entire life) he had zero credit history. When we ran his credit report we received a message from Experian to send them a copy of his drivers license and social security card. We then received a credit report from them with just his name, address and social security number. We worked to build his credit while I worked two jobs, paying off my $13,000 of debt in less than a year. We have since purchased a home and have remained debt free for 16 years.

  • ColleenCN

    He had run up a huge amount of debt in his first marriage. He paid it off, but it made me want to be the one to handle our joint finances because I wouldn’t have dreamed of running up that kind of debt. However, I would forgo necessities in favor of paying off bills, etc. I helped him be more frugal and he helped me loosen up and treat myself occassionally.

  • Tyanna

    He spends every dime! I started a budget that showed him how much was spent EVERYWHERE and on EVERYTHING!

  • CassieO

    Before we were married, my fiancee noticed that, as a single mom of 3 teens and an infant, I made a habit of writing my financial goals for the year (usually 4 or 5) and posting it on the fridge for all to see, especially my kids. Throughout the year, I’d check off each goal as I reached it. If I didn’t reach it, it automatically went on next year’s list. It also showed the kids that diligence pays off.

    When we married, he tried it with me. One year, we were able to save $20,000 while paying off debt, simultaneously. Now, it’s a New Year’s tradition for us.

  • Emma P

    I learned that he’s surpassed the six-month savings cushion “a while ago” and has never had a drop of debt in his life. He pays off his credit card weekly, has a solid salary, maxes out his retirement savings. The most surprising thing? He’s never budgeted in his life and the thought of it makes him anxious! I learned I’m far more savvy about budgeting and overall money management. I have student loans, credit card debt, and am early on in my career in nonprofits, so my salary is much less than his. But his saving habits have definitely shaped my views. Instead of scrambling to throw everything at my debt and regular expenses, I now realize how much more secure I feel when I see my savings account grow. It’s possible to do it all and we’ve learned from each other. This has forced us to have regular money talks and it’s made us stronger as a couple.

  • Jeremy

    I was surprised at how ultra conservative she is with money and investing. And how she sometimes perceives others as doing well by what they have but not have any knowledge of actual net worth, debt, income, or any other financials.

  • Lil (mrs.drewski@gmail.com)

    I had both good and bad surprises with my husband’s finances. On the “bad” side, he NEVER balanced his checkbook. I remember the first time I offered to help him with that, I opened it and it was blank, except for a few check numbers he’d used. On the “good” side, he never spent what he didn’t have, and had very minimal student loan debt. My student loan debt was far larger than his. He was injured in Iraq 4 years ago, and struggles with memory issues among other things now, so I’m the lead on managing the money. But we still work as a team. I put together the budget framework, then we sit down together and I explain it while he asks questions and gives input. If he didn’t, I be way to much of a control freak.

  • mirachu

    The fact that my husband does not keep a checking account register was super surprising. He just checks his account on a daily basis. I’ve been with him for 8 years and we’ve been married for 3 of those years, so I’m certain nothing’s going to change. I just keep doing what I do and let him do what he does, since our accounts are separate.

  • Guest

    What surprised me most about my boyfriend was his budget and analysis spreadsheets (color coded!) and his short-term saving goals — which made me hyperventilate every first week of the month. I admired his budgeting skills and with very little credit card debt and manageable student loans, I was impressed! (I was never good at keeping my credit card balance low.) However, I was always good at being frugal and paying bills every time the paycheck came along — something he didn’t do too well. Aha! It did indeed make me feel I was doing something right and was reinforced when he praised my financial skills. Now, since we’ve moved in together, his budgeting and saving expertise, along with my payment-on-time plan, has inspired us to live on a one income and attempt to put the other income in savings. We aim to have a deposit for a home purchase in the coming year and to continue to teach and inspire one another to be “money smart.

  • Arlene M.

    What surprised me most about my boyfriend was his budget and analysis spreadsheets (color coded!) and his short-term saving goals — which made me hyperventilate every first week of the month. I admired his budgeting skills and with very little credit card debt and manageable student loans, I was impressed! (I was never good at keeping my credit card balance low.) However, I was always good at being frugal and paying bills every time the paycheck came along — something he (ahem) didn’t do too well. It did indeed make me feel I was doing something right and was reinforced when he praised my financial skills. Now, since we’ve moved in together, his budgeting and saving expertise, along with my payment-on-time plan, has inspired us to live on a one income and attempt to put the other income in savings. We aim to have a deposit for a home purchase in the coming year and to continue to teach and inspire one another to be “money smart.”

  • Arlene M.

    What surprised me most about my boyfriend was his budget and analysis spreadsheets (color coded!) and his short-term saving goals — which made me hyperventilate every first week of the month. I admired his budgeting skills and with very little credit card debt and manageable student loans, I was impressed! (I was never good at keeping my credit card balance low.) However, I was always good at being frugal and paying bills every time the paycheck came along — something he (ahem) didn’t do too well. It indeed made me feel I was doing something right and was reinforced when he praised my financial skills. Now, since we’ve moved in together, his budgeting and saving expertise, along with my payment-on-time plan, has inspired us to live on a single income and attempt to put the other income in savings. We aim to have a deposit for a home purchase in the coming year and to continue to teach and inspire one another to be “money smart.”

  • Arlene M.

    What surprised me most about my boyfriend was his budget and analysis spreadsheets (color coded!) and his short-term saving goals — which made me hyperventilate every first week of the month. I admired his budgeting skills and with very little credit card debt and manageable student loans, I was impressed! (I was never good at keeping my credit card balance low.) However, I was always good at being frugal and paying bills every time the paycheck came along — something he (ahem) didn’t do too well. It indeed made me feel I was doing something right and was reinforced when he praised my financial skills. Now, since we’ve moved in together, his budgeting and saving expertise, along with my payment-on-time plan, has inspired us to live on a single income and attempt to put the other income in savings. We aim to have a deposit for a home purchase in the coming year and to continue to teach and inspire one another to be “money smart.”

  • Guest

    What surprised me most about my boyfriend was his budget and analysis
    spreadsheets (color coded!) and his short-term saving goals — which
    made me hyperventilate every first week of the month. I admired his
    budgeting skills and with very little credit card debt and manageable
    student loans, I was impressed! (I was never good at keeping my credit
    card balance low.) However, I was always good at being frugal and
    paying bills every time the paycheck came along — something he (ahem)
    didn’t do too well. It indeed made me feel I was doing something right
    and was reinforced when he praised my financial skills. Now, since we’ve
    moved in together, his budgeting and saving expertise, along with my
    payment-on-time plan, has inspired us to live on a single income and
    attempt to put the other income in savings. We aim to have a deposit for
    a home purchase in the coming year and to continue to teach and inspire
    one another to be “money smart.”

  • liborn24

    What surprised me most was that he didn’t have his own checking account & a credit card & he was 28 years old. He wouldn’t have a decent credit rating if I didn’t get him to open them up before we got married. 23 yrs later & I still have managed to keep our credit good, even through the tough times.

  • hollyrere

    What surprised me was that his mother was managing his money (even though he was 30 years old). He’d had trouble before and had figured out that this was the safest move for him to get back on track. Also, once we married and I took over the finances I realized that financial peace to him meant that we had enough money to last from paycheck to paycheck, financial peace to me meant we also had savings leftover from each paycheck to sock away. It was definitely a learning process for us in merging our financial lives.

  • mnc

    My boyfriend and I have only been dating a few months – so we haven’t had an open conversation about finances (income, debt, etc.) but I have noticed his spending habits … he likes to splurge way more than I do! I see a future with him and want to make sure that future includes good financial habits – so I have raved about my experience with LearnVest, how I enjoy keeping a budget and being in touch with my personal planner … and I got him to sign up as well!

  • Sabrina

    My husband’s aversion to bill paying surprised me greatly. We’ve been paying off old collections and unpaid taxes for him since we joined finances. This made take control of the household finances, be more dilligent about bill-paying, and keep copies of everything that is getting paid etc. I was focused before but now I’m like a hawk with our money.

  • Eiluned

    What surprised me the most is that after living off credit for so long, after he decided to dump his retirement fund to pay off his credit, he expects my debt to “go away” just as fast.

  • Hannah

    I was surprised in our first year of marriage with having to face a huge burden of tax debt he had accumulated from a previous business he owned (and from personal income tax returns he had neglected to file). He had been in denial about this, and put off working through all the paperwork for years. After flying off the handle a bit, and talking to many people, I was able to come around and be the support and the stimulus he needed to be able to go through the head ache of working through paperwork, and talking with lawyers and CPA’s in order to make headway on the situation. We’re not all the way there yet, but we are getting close! Although it’s been tough working through our different approaches to bills, paperwork, and finances (I jump on things right away and want to get them paid off, he loses the bills in a pile paperwork in the office) I think we’re really starting to become a team. I’m not going to let something like finances get in the way of a good marriage. They are not important enough to lose your head over. Marriage is all about sticking it out and working through things, the good and the bad.

  • Kelsey Maslowski

    My husband surprised me by him not really having a plan or goal with any of his financials. He spends on what he wants to spend on when he wants to spend it, while I am the opposite. After paying down mountains of debt myself, I always have a plan for my money. This has caused me to relax a little and be less strict about each and every penny. There is now a little more flexibility in our budget.