I talk about my Italian parents so much that most of my friends think Mamma and Papa are paying their firstborn son to say nice things about them. In fact, I often tell my readers at Scordo.com that if it weren’t for my parents I’d be lost in terms of key, everyday, life lessons — including how to cook, save money, and live practically, among other things.
My father, specifically, has helped on the money advice and practical-living side of things, and while only possessing a technical degree from an Italian high school, he’s an expert on saving money, home improvement, negotiating, and, you guessed it, how to lead a successful marriage!
Marriage, as my father likes to say, is a practical endeavor; sure, there’s a romantic aspect that, as I will argue below, needs to be kept alive, but a successful marriage is a byproduct of stellar communications, behavioral similarities — that is, finding someone who shares the same value system — and, yes, financial awareness.
By financial awareness, Papa Scordo, means that if you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to many matters — and are doing all of the right, personal finance things, such as living below your means, saving, investing, and finding happiness is high value endeavors — then most marriages will end up, not in divorce, but in romantic bliss.
Here, then, are Papa Scordo’s five lessons on marriage and money:
Communication. Do you and your spouse talk often about important issues? Do you talk like adults about money, the kids, and how annoying certain family members can be, at times? If you don’t lay things out and speak frankly, say, about how much money you’d like to be investing each month, then you’re both not communicating. If you’re going to make a marriage work then you shouldn’t assume anything in terms of what your spouse is thinking and desiring; that is to say, talk about everything and don’t leave anything to chance.
Money goals. Do you both have money goals? Every couple should have similar thoughts on: how much money to save, what makes up healthy monthly household expenditures, how much to spend on Christmas gifts, how many lessons or after school activities the kids truly need, etc. Simply put, your money goals need to be aligned. If you’re shopping at consignment shops and she’s heading to Nordstrom every week, you’re going to have problems.
Process. Do you and your wife have a plan in place for who is in charge of investments, monthly bills, home maintenance, etc.? You can’t reach any personal finance goals unless you have a plan in place with dates and who is in charge of getting things done. In some ways, a marriage needs to be run like a corporation (sorry to all you romantic types!) and you can’t have one employee doing all the work while the guy in Accounting sits on his butt all day.
Have Fun and Make Sure Your Love Evolves. It’s always a good idea to invest in your love. This means going out and doing special things on occasion or treating your spouse to a gift or a dozen roses. Being cheap (versus frugal) with your husband or wife is not a good move. If your budget allows for a yearly vacation, maybe without the kids, then go and have fun! Your marriage and life will be revitalized when you return.
Independence. I know some couples who are tied to the hip both in terms of finances, friends, and social activities; this is not good. I believe that married couples need to preserve some individuality; including attending events with close friends or just going out for a drink with a college buddy on occasion, because it’s OK to have some differences in your social lives. On the money side, it’s also important for both partners to have their own spending money, just as long as one partner is not abusing the privilege by making purchases from the web each night, for example.
About the Author: Vince Scordo, who originally wrote this article almost a decade ago for Len Penzo dot Com, is the proprietor of Scordo.com, a website that aims to inform and entertain readers on how to live the Italian way! Specifically, Scordo focuses on food, recipes, products with an Italian bent, saving money, home and garden tips, and how-to advice.
Photo Credit: Vince Scordo