Financial problems are often cited as the number one reason that most couples break up. Poor money management leads to more arguments and disagreements than any other topic in a marriage. Increasing your financial IQ and improving your financial literacy can help to increase your chances of having a successful relationship. You may be thinking that this only applies to the average Joe and not the wealthy. That is just not the case. A lot of celebrity couples have learned the hard way just how important financial planning is to their relationships. (Check out, Marriage, Divorce And The Dotted Line.)
Let's take a look at a few couples that have broken up because of money issues and the lessons that can you can learn from them.
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics
Anne Hathaway and Raffaello Follieri
Anne Hathaway and Raffaello Follieri were the typical celebrity couple. She was an A-list movie star and he was a sophisticated real estate investor who bragged about having connections to the Vatican. Life was good for Follierri who lived in a luxurious $37,500 a-month rental apartment in Trump Towers on Fifth Avenue. They took lavish trips, bought expensive items and enjoyed the good life. Everything about the couple seemed perfect to outside observers.
Lesson: Live Within Your Means
The problem is the good life that the couple was living was financed using his investor's money. Follieri could not afford the life that he was living so he resorted to stealing to finance his spending sprees. He failed to understand the importance of living within your means. That is the first lesson of personal finance. You should never spend more money than you earn in income each month. If you do, you just may find yourself robbing Peter to pay Paul. Follieri's wild spending caught up with him eventually. He was convicted of money laundering and fraud and lost Hathaway as well. (For more on people who lost it all, see Millionaires Who Gave It All Away.)
Britney Spears and Kevin Federline
The primary cause of divorce in America is financial incompatibility. There is no better example of this than Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. Britney Spears was an international singing sensation bringing in millions of dollars annually. Kevin Federline was a broke unknown backup dancer, who went by the name K-Fed. Fast forward through a whirlwind wedding and Kevin Federline was vaunted into the national spotlight. He was soon trying to live a lifestyle in which he was ill equipped to live. The pairing didn't last more than two years as the two newlyweds were incompatible in every way including financially.
Lesson: Be Financially Compatible
Financial incompatibility can ruin even the best of relationships. It's important that your financial goals and expectations match up with your spouse's. Your idea of a savings cushion and splurging may be completely different than your spouse's. For example, a person that makes $150,000 a year may see a $5,000 purchase as an incidental expense whereas a spouse that is making only $25,000 may see the same purchase as a major expense. (To read more on financial incompatibility, check out Top 6 Marriage-Killing Money Issues.)
Lenny and Terri Dykstra
Former baseball All Star Lenny Dykstra just got his third strike. Dykstra seemed to be riding on top of the world just three years ago having bought an $18 million dollar home and working as a financial guru on Jim Cramer's Real Money website. Less than a year later everything came tumbling down. Dykstra's many business ventures crumbled and he was forced to file for bankruptcy with massive debts outweighing his meager assets. Dykstra risked the entire family fortune on his poorly planned business interests. The bankruptcy filing was the final straw for Dykstra's wife, Terri. She filed for divorce from the penniless star.
Lesson: Protect Your Finances
The old adage is true, there is truly no romance without finance. Dykstra learned this the hard way but you don't have to. It's important to keep your financial house in order by having a structured plan. Don't risk everything on a foolish risk. You should never place your primary residence and major assets at risk for a business venture. Entrepreneurship is a great thing and can be an avenue to many opportunities but you should never take allow a business venture to ruin your home life. (For more on choosing business ventures, read How Venture Capitalists Make Investment Choices.)
The Bottom Line
As you can clearly see from the examples above, keeping your financial house in order is a great way of improving the chances that your relationship will be successful. You can do this by making wise financial decisions that will put your finances on the right track and keep them there for years to come. (For steps on financial compatibility, read Say "I Do" To Financial Compatibility.)