How to Solve Four Common, but Sticky, Money Issues

“MY ROOMMATE SUCKS WITH BILLS. SHE DOESN’T ALWAYS PAY ON TIME … OR AT ALL.”

If your roommate is trustworthy but flaky, try a joint bank account, says Manisha Thakor, the director of wealth strategies for women at investment advisory
firm Buckingham. Make sure the only thing you can do is deposit money from your paychecks and transfer money to a vendor, ideally on an automated basis.
Or you could divvy up the bills so your credit isn’t tied to utilities she flakes on, suggests Stuart Smith, a partner at ML&R Wealth Management. Most important, set a semi-regular date to talk through house issues.

“MY HUSBAND MAKES BIG DECISIONS — LIKE BUYING A CAR! — WITHOUT ME.”

This kind of independent decision making can understandably set off a partner — it comes across as selfish. The solution? A financial three-way. Set up three buckets — Yours, Mine, and Ours — “being exceptionally clear what constitutes
a joint expense in Ours and the limit above which you must consult each other before spending from that bucket,” says Thakor. Don’t forget to discuss savings! Make your savings amount a line item in the budget you build as a couple, and aim to save roughly equal percentages of your income.

“I BORROWED MONEY FROM MY FRIEND, AND NOW SHE’S HOLDING IT OVER MY HEAD.”

When someone loans you money as opposed to gifting it, they feel entitled to some control over it, a 2013 study reported. “Fights happen when the lender gets frustrated or feels disrespected,” Thakor warns. Your friend might be in a bind herself. Talk about creating an accelerated repayment schedule that works for both of you, and make it clear that you appreciate her help. Next time you borrow, get all the awkwardness out up front. Cosign a document outlining how much is being lent and repaid each month or year, any interest, and what happens if you default.

“MY PARENTS WON’T PAY FOR MY WEDDING!”

Keep calm and communicate (and also, get over yourself!). “Kids are not always aware of the financial burden that their parents are under,” says Thakor. Say, “I’d like to talk to you. Money can so often derail relationships, and I don’t want that to happen to us.” Ideally, you’d talk way before you get engaged or are accepted to school and a parent says they’re not chipping in. But if a rift occurs, talk through their logic. Can they not afford to help? Do they disagree with your plans? This talk could get heavy. Be prepared to accept no for an answer … and adjust your budget accordingly.

This commentary originally appeared December 13 on Cosmopolitan.com

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Manisha Thakor, CFA, CFP®

As the director of wealth strategies for women at Buckingham Strategic Wealth and the BAM ALLIANCE, Manisha Thakor is an ardent advocate of financial literacy for women. She is passionate about providing the financial wisdom that women and families need to redefine their relationship with money, helping them create lives aligned with their values and goals through a program of integrated, holistic financial life planning and evidence-based investment management.

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