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Vivi Friedgut

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In an Age of Austerity is It Okay to Marry for Money?

Posted: 11/01/2013 00:00

For many women, "should one marry for love or money" was an amusing question in our 20s but has many more shades of grey in our 30s. In financially difficult times the split in answers seems to depend on where you stand. Fiscally.

Some of our cohort are financially sorted. Young women on the path towards financial security if not freedom; earning a comfortable salary which pays for life and luxuries whilst planning and preparing for the future. They may have some money in a pension or similar and most will already own a slice of property. A man would complement their life but is not essential to their livelihood.

Many however are less financially secure. Through a combination of factors; often including salary and financial capability, they make ends meet each month with little, if anything, to spare. They are stuck in the rent generation and most anticipate a low probability of that changing. Our sisters view relationships, to a certain degree, through the prism of fiscal fear as much as love.

The feminists will protest but ideology often makes way for the practicalities of paying bills and preparing for the future. Our less financially secure sisters find themselves considering this factor in their choice of men. It's not about buying Gucci it's about paying for gas!

A recent NY Times article found that "Credit scores are like the dating equivalent of a sexually transmitted disease test... It's a shorthand way to get a sense of someone's financial past". Two dating sites, creditscoredating.com and datemycreditscore.com, have recently popped up begging the question are people making decisions of the heart differently in austere times?

Perhaps so. All things being equal financial compatibility is not a bad box to be able to tick. There is much evidence that debt related stress strains families and relationships. Partners viewing money differently, or coming into a relationship with differing levels of debt (or credit rating), might place an unnecessary hardship on a couple. A good money talk is important and financial capability can provide the confidence and knowledge to guide such a conversation.

Financial education is important for all but it is especially critical for women, especially while we still find ourselves hitting a pay ceiling. So that we can make decisions independently and also because women are more likely to find themselves in a financial quagmire due to the biological reality of children or by virtue of relationships gone bad.

Years ago my dad made a startling discovery. A distant family friend had lost her husband and during the wake, with downcast eyes, she announced he had been beating her for decades. My dad overcome by sadness blurted out "why on earth would you stay with such a man" to which she responded "with three kids and no money what else could I do?"

The opportunities to choose our own path, and the freedom to pursue it, are the purview of those in control of their financial destiny. Being financially dependent can have terrible consequences. We must ensure all women have the confidence, knowledge and skills to be money smarter.

Being money smarter creates options. It means having control over our ability to afford the food we need, the clothes we want and the life we desire. Financial liberation creates opportunities and freedom and we must value it as highly as sexual liberation for without the first the second will be forever fragile.

 

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