Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

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gouda
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Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by gouda » Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:27 pm

The responses to my earlier thread (http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 9&start=50) with respect to personal life got me thinking: Is it better to remain single & frugal or be coupled and financially incompatible?

When it comes to personal finance and relationships, I realize this isn't as black and white or binary as my question above implies, but seeing how money tends to be a major reason for divorce, I'm curious as to what the wise Boglehead community has to say on this issue.

FWIW, I am a single 20-something female, and like a lot of Bogleheads, I lean heavily towards the frugal end of the spectrum.

With the new year approaching, I'm wondering if I'm just happier with my single frugal self. Granted, my perspective is a bit jaded by the 20- & 30-something guys in my social circle who tend to have at least two of the following three characteristics: 6-figure debt, paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, and a "Keeping Up with the Joneses" mentality. It also doesn't help that I work in an industry where 20-somethings can earn 6-figure salaries right out of school and that kind of "Keeping Up" mentality is strongly encouraged. By no means am I the most frugal person around, but I do LBYM and tend to save/invest as much as I can for my future self (and hopefully, future spouse and kids).

I realize that finances is but one of many factors, but from observing relationships of older couples, I have seen how awesome it is when two people operate with an united financial offense and defense. And to the extent that is possible for millenials (or even exists in the members of my generation), I know I would regret not trying to find it and experience that with someone who shares similar values.

mwm158
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by mwm158 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:35 pm

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bhsince87
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by bhsince87 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:47 pm

Been there done that. IMO, single and frugal wins.

But coupled and both happily frugal is MUCH better!

I would imagine that coupled and both happily unfrugal is better too, but that’s just speculation…
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace." Samuel Adams

tim1999
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by tim1999 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:51 pm

I may have more to say once this thread gets going more, but if a couple is financially incompatible, won't that pretty much automatically lead to problems and an eventual breakup/divorce? Costing the frugal one potentially a huge sum of money? Isn't money the main reason why couples have trouble? Wouldn't that make being single and frugal better by default?

Disclosure: I am single. Not entirely frugal, but I do save a healthy portion of my income. Freedom is priceless, though. I have no interest in marriage.

user5027
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by user5027 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:53 pm

Two can live more frugal together than individually, until children arrive. :twisted:

RobInCT
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by RobInCT » Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:53 pm

Relationships are about compromise--about EVERYTHING. If you're not interested in compromise, then a life partnership is probably not for you. I'm not suggesting you date a spendthrift--someone whose financial habits are so vastly different from your own is probably going to have other things about him that make him not a suitable life partner. But you're likely never going to find someone whose spending philosophy exactly and precisely matches your own, and if even small discrepancies, like a habit of splurging on name-brand rather than store-label peanut butter, are going to be deal-breakers for you, then that's going to be tough.

MY SO and I are on generally the same page. We both believe in spending less than we make. We both dislike debt. But she has a penchant for shoes and fancy dinners that I do not share. And although we've never discussed it, I'm guessing she doesn't see the value that I do in technological gadgets and fine scotch. Compromise.

Meeting someone is hard under any circumstances. I find it hard to believe there are no 20something men out there who believe in living below their means and saving for the future. If that's what you're looking for, then there should be many young men out there who qualify. But if what you mean is that there are no men out there who want to keep the thermostat at the exact same cost-saving temperature as you do and who agree on the exact number of times a Ziploc bag should be reused before being recycled, then that gets much harder and yes, if that's the standard, then you may be better off alone.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Cuzz35 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:06 pm

My wife has most definately molded me into the much better 27 year old man I am today (In my own opinion). Without her I'm pretty sure I'd be some loser deadbeat.

Maybe you can find a compromisable person to rub off on. People will do a lot for ones they truly love.

Good luck.

This month marks our tenth year together so its taken a while. :D

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WillyMcG
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by WillyMcG » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:07 pm

you will be forever frustrated and likely have no respect for a financial idiot. Most of these people are shallow and selfish...they can easily justify taking on debt and making poor money decisions.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:18 pm

Cherokee8215 wrote:I may have more to say once this thread gets going more, but if a couple is financially incompatible, won't that pretty much automatically lead to problems and an eventual breakup/divorce? Costing the frugal one potentially a huge sum of money? Isn't money the main reason why couples have trouble? Wouldn't that make being single and frugal better by default?
From experience, yes, yes, and yes. The 2nd time around it is working out just fine though. When we first met my wife wasn't sure she even wanted a 2nd date because (in her words) I seemed uptight and cheap, and wasn't willing to wine and dine her like other guys. I think she is thankful she gave me a 2nd shot.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Louis Winthorpe III » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:54 pm

Being compatible in general (not just on financial matters) is very important. There are plenty of people out there who you'll be compatible with. You just have to find them, although admittedly it can take a lot of time and a bit of luck. When you do find the right person, it's the best thing in the world. Definitely worth the wait.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by haban01 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:55 pm

It looks like I'm the Male version of you! It is very hard in these times in society today! I always said that I would rather be single than be with the wrong person. It was very important to me to have a woman in my life that was willing to learn and understand and respect why one needs to take a proactive approach to build some financial security for the future, I think the hard thing is when the family values haven't been ingrained. I've seen these in both men and women. Not good!! This is not an easy part of the relationship, I would not settle and try to find someone who will be an equal partner to you. The rest of everything in the relationship needs to click as well :).
Eric | | "Stay the Course" | "Press on Regardless"

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Nuvoletta » Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:04 am

I consider my husband and myself to be financially incompatible, and before I met him I would have said that I could never marry someone so different. My parents were financially incompatible and yes, they proved the rule about how destructive that could be. Obviously, I changed my mind. :D Hubby is perfect for me in every single other way.

I think it comes down to the DEGREE of financial incompatibility. Compromise and each parter's willingness to adapt are important. My father was financially self-destructive and a deadbeat husband and dad. In contrast, my husband is a very loving and giving person who just happens to live very much in today (carpe diem 100%). He is just one of those types who would happily live paycheck to paycheck and buy the latest gadgets, new car, etc., but his credit was/is fine and he always paid child support to my stepdaughter plus extras. Where compromise comes in is hubby is willing to live beneath our means and save EF and retirement $ because otherwise I would be a basket case. He also sees benefits and admits it, to having financial stability as we do. I compromise in saving a lot less than I would like to, but see the benefits of expenditures we do make together for our present. It has taken over ten years to get to this point, though -- lots of long talks and I have to manage all the finances -- he is simply uninterested.

My advice? Yes, DO seek someone with closer financial values to your own…it does help avoid a lot of frustration. And there are guys out there of all ages who are frugal -- they just might be a little hard to identify OR they may be the guys working longer hours to build their careers and not going to the parties, haha. However, as another poster wrote, watch how stringent you are…someone who is an exact match on every finance approach would be freaky. I also think someone being more frugal can be rough, too. Yes, like I am the more frugal partner to my husband, haha, but seriously, ever see that couple in the Joy Luck Club where the husband was splitting up the grocery bill by item? :oops: I roll my eyes about the new iPad mini, but he's thrilled and we can afford it, so I keep my trap shut. :happy

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by tj » Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:27 am

I don't think it's just about being frugal or not being frugal, it's about having similar life goals, and lifestyle habits.

Frugal can mean so many different things to different people.

To one person, being frugal means never going out to eat, not having pay television, never traveling, commuting by public bus.

To someone else, it may mean driving a gas efficient car, but still going out to eat often and having some premium channels. Or driving a luxury car but eating in and not having TV. Or any other combination.

I've described myself as "frugal" and "not materialistic" on dating sites, and it just wasn't very effective because we didn't have anything in common. I mostly ended up meeting women who never wanted to leave their apartment, lived paycheck to paycheck, not women who were saving a lot and maxing out their ROTH's etc.

I'm completely fine being single (...for now...?), but I'd rather be in a relationship that leads to marriage. I don't want to be an old father and I get frustrated because a lot of people this age do seem to just want to party and blow $$.

The nice thing about being single is I probably could retire very early, but I think it would be disappointing if I'm Mr. Independent for the rest of my life.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by dgdevil » Wed Jan 01, 2014 2:42 am

gouda wrote: someone who shares similar values.
"Similar" is the operative word. Don't waste your time looking for the male version of you. It may not be a pretty thing to see your idiosyncrasies reflected at you!

Best bet is to meet Mr Prospective Gouda's parents. If they're still married and more or less on the same page - not just on money but on life, hopes and aspirations in general - then you should probably grab him. Work the rest out as you go. Served me well - so far, at least.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Caduceus » Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:05 am

I think it really comes down to sharing certain fundamental values and working toward common life goals. For me, it's not about individual spending decisions, but the sense that this is a partnership that we've committed to and that we have a common destination in mind. Financial incompatibility is usually a sign that people want different things from their futures.

I wonder if this is because people are marrying later in their lives these days, and so couples don't have a chance to shape each other as much before their domestic habits are formed through living independently for such a long time.

I think that differences that don't betray a divergence in fundamental values don't matter as much. An introvert and extrovert have different styles of relating, but that doesn't mean anything about what they value in a partnership, or what kind of parents they hope to be, or where they'd like to be in 5, 10, 20 years. I would say that it is compatibility in terms of values that ultimately matters, rather than how people bring those values to bear in their everyday life. A significant other can simply be uninterested in financial matters, but yet agree with having to plan for retirement. That's quite different from a genuine, almost naive, inability to grasp that living to spend is not sustainable.

I wouldn't rule out the men (or women) with 6-figure debts if that's due to professional schooling rather than behavioral issues.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by JoMoney » Wed Jan 01, 2014 4:26 am

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/0 ... 79335.html
According to a recent survey from the American Institute of CPAs, money is the most common reason married or cohabiting couples fight.
Of over 1,000 American adults polled in a national telephone survey, 27 percent of participants said that disagreements over finances were most likely to erupt into an argument -- not children, chores, work or friends.
I do think it's inevitable, that between the members in a relationship one will be more frugal or budget oriented than the other, and they'll have different tastes on what things are worth paying more for. Even if you have two relatively frugal people, they'll still find a way to fight about money. My grandparents certainly did (and they were both very frugal/financially conservative). I have memories of various arguments between them. Some of the fights involved one of them giving/donating more liberally than the other would have liked, the other was prone to getting involved with financial schemes/investments that the other didn't approve of.
"To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks." - Benjamin Graham

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by youngindexer » Wed Jan 01, 2014 6:52 am

I have given this issue too much thought and have concluded that I'm only getting hitched if I want children. I would also want a prenup as I already have significant retirement assets. I do think the benefits of two bogleheads saving towards retirement would be amazing but I have yet to meet even one boglehead in person. Most people my age don't invest at all and I would bet the majority have never heard of an index fund. There should be a subsection in this forum for single bogleheads :wink:

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by RobInCT » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:24 am

Caduceus wrote:I wouldn't rule out the men (or women) with 6-figure debts if that's due to professional schooling rather than behavioral issues.
Good point. I had six-figure debt when I was in my 20s. Made lifestyle and job choice decisions that allowed me to pay it off quickly by my early 30s and have no intentions of accruing any more. I don't think that would have make me financially incompatible in my 20s with someone who avoided educational debt altogether.

Also, consider that this is really a cost-benefit analysis. For me the benefits of being in a relationship--and they are substantial--would probably not be enough to outweigh the drawbacks of being with someone who was recklessly jeopardizing our financial futures in significant ways, e.g. though racking up excessive credit card debt, insisting on taking on debt for consumption items like cars or houses that was beyond our ability to pay, etc. But the benefits of being in a relationship far outweigh the drawbacks of occasionally having to support spending or saving habits not totally in line with my personal preferences. At the end of the day, my girlfriend's refusal, for sentimental reasons, to convert $10k worth of individual stocks left to her by her grandfather into low-cost index funds isn't going to bankrupt us or leave us unable to retire, and I get far more out of our relationship than the $10k in stocks is worth.
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by moshe » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:57 am

gouda wrote:
I realize that finances is but one of many factors, but from observing relationships of older couples, I have seen how awesome it is when two people operate with an united financial offense and defense. And to the extent that is possible for millenials (or even exists in the members of my generation), I know I would regret not trying to find it and experience that with someone who shares similar values.
A word of caution on "throwing the baby out with the bathwater"... IOW some people can learn (or at least i did!)

I was deep in debt when I married my lovely bride of now 26 years. Even though I made a good salary for my age I had about 10K or so in credit card debt due to being financially (emotionally!?!) immature, a high stress job and frankly valuing a "good time" over "the future". Loneliness sucks as i recall. My wife didn't owe a dime being much more frugal than i was.

Upon marrying we took all the money we received as gifts and paid off all my credit cards and cut them all up, except for one. (I still feel guilty about this but very glad we did it!)

Other than our mortgage we pay cash for the things we need and pay off our credit card balances every month for all purchases. We only go out to eat once or twice a month, at most, I brown bag my lunches, etc. For the past 26 years we have lived a frugal lifestyle, take few and always modest but fun vacations, never spend more than $100 (total) on gifts for each other or family members, and save and invest well over 10% of our income.

Simply, i learned. I grew up. So my word of caution is not to discard someone solely on the basis of past financial behavior.

~Moshe
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by RadAudit » Wed Jan 01, 2014 9:01 am

gouda wrote: Is it better to remain single & frugal or be coupled and financially incompatible?
Time has a way of answering these concerns.
FI is the best revenge. LBYM. Invest the rest. Stay the course. - PS: The cavalry isn't coming, kids. You are on your own.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by lws6772 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 9:51 am

Choose very wisely or you will eventually end up single again and perhaps even more frugal. :oops:

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by yatesd » Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:10 am

My wife complements me; we are very different. That being said, we got married at a young age (22).

There are certainly disadvantages to this approach, but after 21 years of marriage I can also see the advantages. My wife and I compromise on many things and having shared experiences while younger has helped us better align vs. many people who get married later in life.

- My wife does the checking account (I wouldn't even bother reconciling, I would just guess). I handle the investments.

- My wife helps me avoid spending too much through encouragement while still allowing me to buy just about anything I want.

- My wife and I have agreed to not spend significant money on anything (say $50) without communicating with the other person. This is not about permission. This is about communication, accountability, and making buying decisions as a team.

Some tips:

- Don't forget that you are marrying the entire family, not just a spouse!

- Make sure you align on core beliefs (after all, if you don't see eye to eye on the reason for life that is going to be a big issue)

- If you decide to get married, be "all in". No separate accounts, no backup plan. Otherwise, don't get married

Ironically, I was the kid in debt up to my ears living paycheck to paycheck when we got married. I certainly wouldn't have picked me as a good prospect. Live and learn.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Ignis » Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:23 am

mwm158 wrote:So how do personal ads work on this forum? Do I need to reply with my income, savings rate, and retirement account figures?
This, and I second a sub-forum for single Bogleheads.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by yatesd » Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:28 am

I wonder if this is because people are marrying later in their lives these days, and so couples don't have a chance to shape each other as much before their domestic habits are formed through living independently for such a long time.
Exactly! Just as I get concerned about couples getting married too young with no plan (some work out), I also get concerned when I see someone wait too long to get married (if that is their intent). If you wait to long, then habits are already established and people tend to be set in their ways.

I would also argue that most people living together (trial, with return policy) fail because they have commitment issues. Marriage is all or nothing...I can see a few times during our marriage where it could have fell apart if we both didn't have a deep commitment.

My wife and I were both influenced and aligned through mutual experiences and learning.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by MassInvestor » Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:42 pm

gouda wrote:The responses to my earlier thread (http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 9&start=50) with respect to personal life got me thinking: Is it better to remain single & frugal or be coupled and financially incompatible?

When it comes to personal finance and relationships, I realize this isn't as black and white or binary as my question above implies, but seeing how money tends to be a major reason for divorce, I'm curious as to what the wise Boglehead community has to say on this issue.

FWIW, I am a single 20-something female, and like a lot of Bogleheads, I lean heavily towards the frugal end of the spectrum.

With the new year approaching, I'm wondering if I'm just happier with my single frugal self. Granted, my perspective is a bit jaded by the 20- & 30-something guys in my social circle who tend to have at least two of the following three characteristics: 6-figure debt, paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, and a "Keeping Up with the Joneses" mentality. It also doesn't help that I work in an industry where 20-somethings can earn 6-figure salaries right out of school and that kind of "Keeping Up" mentality is strongly encouraged. By no means am I the most frugal person around, but I do LBYM and tend to save/invest as much as I can for my future self (and hopefully, future spouse and kids).

I realize that finances is but one of many factors, but from observing relationships of older couples, I have seen how awesome it is when two people operate with an united financial offense and defense. And to the extent that is possible for millenials (or even exists in the members of my generation), I know I would regret not trying to find it and experience that with someone who shares similar values.
Do you live in New England? I'm single.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Caduceus » Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:50 pm

Wouldn't it be fun if we ended up having some Boglehead marriages/civil unions because of this forum?

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LowER
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by LowER » Wed Jan 01, 2014 4:14 pm

Until you've been there, divorce seems to be a very underestimated potential challenger to financial well being. If you both have similar assets and incomes, it may not be so bad, but if either are lopsided, you may find yourself in a position that retrospectively informs you that spending like crazy before the divorce may not have been a bad idea.

Is there any other threat to financial wellbeing that comes with a 50% chance of going very poorly. Would you invest your hard-earned money in an index fund that had a 50% chance of losing everything? For me, it was everything and then a LOT more.

In those terms, marriage, and the subsequent possibility of divorce, seems un-bogleheadish. And why would anyone want the government meddling around in yet another aspect of your life?

Cynical? Experienced? Both? Maybe

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by dgdevil » Wed Jan 01, 2014 5:20 pm

youngindexer wrote: I have yet to meet even one boglehead in person.
No one told you about the secret handshake?

Seriously, there was talk here a few years ago of a Bogleheads tshirt ...

http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 11&t=86140

... probably the closest you'll get to a mating call, or a wedgie.

Don't be too hard on non-Bogleheads. One or two may have some wisdom to share with you. It's all about complementing each other, not replicating each other.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by youngindexer » Wed Jan 01, 2014 5:50 pm

dgdevil wrote: No one told you about the secret handshake?

Seriously, there was talk here a few years ago of a Bogleheads tshirt ...

http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 11&t=86140

... probably the closest you'll get to a mating call, or a wedgie.

Don't be too hard on non-Bogleheads. One or two may have some wisdom to share with you. It's all about complementing each other, not replicating each other.
Haha the secret handshake eludes me but I have only been prowling the site about a year now. A boglehead t-shirt is a great idea I would totally buy one and judging from that thread several members would. I could think of nothing more attractive than a potential mate sporting boglehead gear. I'm not too hard on non-bogleheads but lets be honest here...bogleheads>non-bogleheads :twisted:

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by keanwood » Wed Jan 01, 2014 5:57 pm

If you live is southern California give me a call.

I spend less than I earn
Contribute to my roth every year.
21 years old
6ft 2in

Just kidding I already found a nice girl.

-------------------

She does not see the point in saving and she lives paycheck to paycheck.

I track my expenses and I have found that 19% of what I earn I spend with or on her. I have decided that being with her is worth that much. But we keep our finances completely separate.

My advice to you is don't worry about the others finances until the two of you are getting ready for marriage. While your dating it just doesn't matter. And maybe, just maybe, when he proposes to you; you will find it doesn't matter.


--Keanwood
Spend half of your money: for you may die, save half of your money: for you may live.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by dratkinson » Wed Jan 01, 2014 6:01 pm

The ideal is married to a compatible mate, as it will smooth all of life's issues.

Do not marry until after you are both over age 25 (maybe him over 27), as your values are still changing until then.



Suggest reading the book, "Date... or Soul Mate?", by Neil Clark Warren. It's everything I didn't know when I should have known it. Use it's advice to pre-qualify mate candidates on the first date. Otherwise enjoy the date.

Gave a copy to my quiet penpal. She too had trouble finding good mate candidates while living in a more socially active, keep-up-with-Jones type city. Spent several years searching there with no success.

Eventually solved her problem by moving to a city with a quieter lifestyle to search among the men who would gravitate to such a city. Now happily married to a compatible mate (2 years), and just had a beautiful son. She just turned 30.
d.r.a., not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor, you are forewarned.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Twins Fan » Wed Jan 01, 2014 6:54 pm

Having been there done that... a couple times :oops: .... being the frugal type myself and trying to make a go of it coupling up with a free spender, you're much better off staying single and frugal. I went into each time with a nice little savings built up, and I would grind my teeth daily as that dwindled, soon it was check to check, and soon it was debt. And, then eventually it ended and I would have to start all over again... actually, start from negative since I got some of the debt each time.

I'm sure it happens the other way and the spender changes to a frugal type, but my experience and I get the feeling that the frugal type loses out on that deal more often than not.

As mentioned, you probably will not find someone perfectly compatible with you. But, try to find someone with similar financial thinking, goals, and such.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Jan 01, 2014 7:51 pm

dgdevil wrote:
youngindexer wrote: I have yet to meet even one boglehead in person.
No one told you about the secret handshake?
It's the index finger shake.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by tj » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:08 pm

dratkinson wrote:
Gave a copy to my quiet penpal. She too had trouble finding good mate candidates while living in a more socially active, keep-up-with-Jones type city. Spent several years searching there with no success.

Eventually solved her problem by moving to a city with a quieter lifestyle to search among the men who would gravitate to such a city. Now happily married to a compatible mate (2 years), and just had a beautiful son. She just turned 30.

What city was that? :-)

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:19 pm

May I suggest you do one or more of the following? - don't rely on books or friends for advice. Do you like sports? - run perhaps? Join a running group - you will meet folks from various industries and income brackets. Alumni network from college? Find the person first, then work on the finances. Try the meet markets - it could work, you won't know unless you try. Married now, but when single I focused only on women who had similar educational background or aspirations of attaining, maturity was important, not high maintainance (you can test them on this - recommend fun but cheap dates: watch for red flags), similar values and I found it in the least expected of places - an ice cream shop! We didn't like the same flavor, still don't but found commonality in other things. No money talk until you're serious with ring in hand or half way to it. I've converted her from the dark side (full service broker - ugh!, load funds - double ugh!, annual service fee!! :annoyed ) to Bogleland - low fees, no loads - diversified portfolio.

Good Luck!
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by MooreBonds » Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:48 pm

bhsince87 wrote:Been there done that. IMO, single and frugal wins.

But coupled and both happily frugal is MUCH better!

I would imagine that coupled and both happily unfrugal is better too, but that’s just speculation…
As a 37 year old single guy, I definitely relate to the challenge of finding someone who's financially compatible. And, as time goes on and the portfolio thankfully increases, it becomes a greater and greater 'financial penalty' for choosing incorrectly.

I can't tell you how frustrating it is to see women in my age range who simply spend what they make with no financial assets to speak of, or (even worse) live frugal lifestyles themselves, but always want to go out and drop $150+ on dinner out, followed by going to a bar w/ a $10 cover, and then ordering a drink and leaving soon after - all on my dime. Meanwhile, I made incredible frugal lifestyle choices and saved insanely high percentages of my income earlier on, so that I can enjoy the fruits of my labor now and start to loosen the belt and let my hair down a bit. Only my 'loosening up' is still a little below their spending lifestyles.

I'd definitely say I'd rather be single than married to someone with starkly different financial habits, because spending is a topic that you encounter on a sometimes DAILY basis. Imagine having friction caused by something that occurs on a daily basis! And it's not just that, but it compounds!

With a different type of difference - he loves sci fi movies while she only watches comedy sitcoms - you can take turns to some degree, or you simply don't watch many movies together. Or if he has some annoying habit, you just look the other way or tell him to not pick his nose around you. But with big financial differences, because money and debt accumulate (or the money doesn't accumulate, if you're spending it), you can't simply look the other way and say "well, I'll let him/her live their life in that respect, and just ignore it", because finances are something you can't simply ignore or separate their life from yours. If one person fails financially, both fail financially. And if one person 'succeeds' because of financial sacrifices and living below their means, the other person would start to either feel resentment and covet their stash (and want to spend it), or they will keep going down that bad financial path, possibly even having debts go to collections/declare bankruptcy.

I will say that my range of acceptable financial differences has widened a little bit, partly because the portfolio allows me to be not as uptight about money, partly because I'm starting to be slightly more free with spending, but (mainly) because I realize that most other people out there are far to the other side of the financial spectrum, and that no one I marry will be the exact same as I am, and that to be realistic, I need to understand the bigger picture (overall budgets) rather than specifics of what they spend money on.

Having said that....anecdotal evidence of how they spend their money on things or activities can be a great insight to their overall view towards money, and it is definitely important to extrapolate their overall approach towards money with how they live now. I don't know if I'd be willing to place a bet like marriage on someone "changing" to a large degree with their spending habits. I realize some people can change - but someone modifying their spending habits that they've been cultivating for 10-15 years on their own is not something I'm willing to take a verbal promise on.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by nebraskaman » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:56 am

jgb wrote:
mwm158 wrote:So how do personal ads work on this forum? Do I need to reply with my income, savings rate, and retirement account figures?
This, and I second a sub-forum for single Bogleheads.

3rd!
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by IlliniDave » Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:46 am

gouda wrote:The responses to my earlier thread (http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 9&start=50) with respect to personal life got me thinking: Is it better to remain single & frugal or be coupled and financially incompatible?

When it comes to personal finance and relationships, I realize this isn't as black and white or binary as my question above implies, but seeing how money tends to be a major reason for divorce, I'm curious as to what the wise Boglehead community has to say on this issue.

FWIW, I am a single 20-something female, and like a lot of Bogleheads, I lean heavily towards the frugal end of the spectrum.

With the new year approaching, I'm wondering if I'm just happier with my single frugal self. Granted, my perspective is a bit jaded by the 20- & 30-something guys in my social circle who tend to have at least two of the following three characteristics: 6-figure debt, paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, and a "Keeping Up with the Joneses" mentality. It also doesn't help that I work in an industry where 20-somethings can earn 6-figure salaries right out of school and that kind of "Keeping Up" mentality is strongly encouraged. By no means am I the most frugal person around, but I do LBYM and tend to save/invest as much as I can for my future self (and hopefully, future spouse and kids).

I realize that finances is but one of many factors, but from observing relationships of older couples, I have seen how awesome it is when two people operate with an united financial offense and defense. And to the extent that is possible for millenials (or even exists in the members of my generation), I know I would regret not trying to find it and experience that with someone who shares similar values.
You don't have to make a final decision on whether you ever marry now. You are still young. There are people out there, outside of your current social circle, that have none of the three characteristics you discuss. Maybe change your social circle a little bit.

It is possible for a couple with differing financial views to make it work--one of them just has to yield and allow the other to primarily run the financial show. That's difficult today as our culture increasingly emphasizes individual empowerment.

I'll reemphasize the difficulty. I was married to someone who was twice the spendthrift as I was a saver. It's no one's fault but my own, but I was duped. She talked a good game, had a degree in a financial field, was raised by parents who were extraordinarily thrifty (but struck a good balance between financial efficiency and living happily), so among all the other partnership considerations that go into a contemplated marriage, I thought I had found a powerful ally in the financial aspect of my life. Unfortunately, I was way off base in my belief. Finances were a consistent struggle--she was frustrated with any money she saw laying around "wasted" in savings and investments. I grew despondent over debt stacked upon debt. Children came along the way so we tried to fight through it, but in the end it failed. I can't say it was all due to financial incompatibility, but in hindsight it was clearly a dynamic that prevented us from ever pulling totally in the same direction.

It seems crass but before I would ever consider marrying again, there would have to be some very frank discussions about money. Given my age and the probable age of any potential partners for me, I would insist on seeing evidence of financial responsibility commensurate with age/income. I'm not interested in being the "heavy" for the purpose changing anyone's behavior, or being the benefactor for a charity case. Those attitudes may very well sentence me to being single for good.

So, you are wise to be sensitive to financial compatibility. How much weight you give that particular factor has to be up to you. Someone who on the surface seems incompatible might be genuinely able and willing to defer to your values. And, if you look carefully enough you'll almost certainly find candidates who are financially like-minded. But I can say that marrying a strong-willed person who is financially incompatible is a recipe for potential problems. Lastly, I've come to believe that not everyone is best suited to live a married life. Don't try to force things one way or the other.
Don't do something. Just stand there!

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by chipperd » Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:59 am

Great topic and another vote for a bogelheads singles sub forum.

For what it's worth, my experience..
My wife and I met when we were 25/23. Been together 20 years, married 17. both professionals, me with small private practice. 3 kids; 2 tweens and one early teen. House, two cars, dog; you get the picture.
We were not financially compatible when we met. She brought, what back then seemed like a lot of cc debt; I paid off every month. This was representative of where we were coming from philosophically.
When we got serious, I insisted that we not carry debt in non-appreciating assets (who thought a house could lose value back then?!). She was aware that she learned her spending/lack of saving habits from her family, as most of us do, and that she didn't like the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle and that hard work could mean fulfilling your hopes/dreams. I was aware that I could be to frugal at times due to impact of my depression era grandparents had on our family financial style and that I needed to loosen up a bit in this area. I have a hard time seeing this conversation happening if we were just a few years younger.
To this day, we still are on either side of the fulcrum on this continuum, but both are flexible enough to be willing to listen when the other says we need to move closer to the middle.
IMHO, the ability and willingness of each member to understand and respect the other's position and it's history on any issue, along with the minimization of ego, goes a long way to negotiating a compromise that both can live with. Valuing and seeing the other's position can be enriching.
Lastly, I was brought up with the notion that compromise means nobody gets exactly what they want, but both get what they need and can live with.:)

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Alphahead » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:29 am

Great advice on this thread.

I would add, that you don't want to be the 90 year old lady in the corner house who dies leaving a four comma inheritance to her 12 cats.

I was less frugal than my wife, and kids have helped change me to be a bit more frugal. That, and my wife harping :D

Everything in moderation, including frugality.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by TRC » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:36 am

I was a finanical mess before I got married. My wife taught me to save. Her father tought me to invest. As long as you meet someone who is willing to learn & change, you should be fine.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:22 am

TRC wrote:I was a finanical mess before I got married. My wife taught me to save. Her father tought me to invest. As long as you meet someone who is willing to learn & change, you should be fine.
Willing is one thing, being able to execute on the willingess is "key". Words are cheap, actions speak louder.
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by fposte » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:31 am

Alphahead wrote: I would add, that you don't want to be the 90 year old lady in the corner house who dies leaving a four comma inheritance to her 12 cats.
I kind of do, actually. Okay, substitute "friends and charitable causes" for "12 cats," but the 90-year-old lady living on her own in the cool old corner house with a seriously secure portfolio, an excellent legacy, and a great collection of friends sounds awfully good to me, and it's basically what I'm aiming for (though absent a gusher in my backyard I don't foresee four commas, or even three).

Now get off my lawn.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by kermit » Thu Jan 02, 2014 11:57 am

Frugality isn't black and white. It is a spectrum that one slides up and down over time. I don't think finances should get in the way of love; perhaps that sounds foolish but, in my experience, happiness doesn't come from massing piles of money. My wife and I are young professionals in our late 20s and save a lot (30+%) but we also live in the most expensive city in the country and spend to enjoy experiences together while we can (e.g., travel). I would not call us frugal. Rather I think we found a nice balance. But it took time together to find that balance.

To be blunt the OP sounds like she is trying to justify some choices she has made. Unfortunately nobody here can tell you what is best for you. But best of luck!

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Barefootgirl » Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:09 pm

Perhaps I can share my voice of experience. Financial incompatibility brought down my otherwise happy marriage and it did not become obvious until it was too late.

I've always been a saver and careful investor. In my early 30s, I met a great guy who confessed right up front to being wasteful and careless in his spending. In the early months of dating, he expressed a strong desire to change his ways and he earnestly put forward efforts to pay off debt and to save and invest. We married, saved together and planned for the future.

Several years later, we received a large cash windfall. As I researched ways to invest the money, he confessed that he couldn't handle it any more - handle what? the money we had saved was killing him. He was possessed by a strong desire to spend, gamble, etc….take big risks, etc. and thus when added to the new windfall - it pushed him over the top.

We could not reach a compromise (I was willing change our asset allocation, but could not stomach his $10K bets at the Craps table in Las Vegas).

Since I couldn't see jeopardizing my financial future, we divided assets and parted ways.

What did I learn from this? that people are who they are and rarely can they change lifelong behavior. Co-mingling your life saving with someone? too big of a risk for me. A prenup next time? maybe!

BFG
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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by dgdevil » Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:19 pm

@Barefootgirl. Sorry to read that. Do you know what became of him? Debtors prison, etc?

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Khuzud » Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:27 pm

jgb wrote:This, and I second a sub-forum for single Bogleheads.
How about a Singles Mixer event at the 2014 Bogleheads Convention?

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Barefootgirl » Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:49 pm

Mutual acquaintances indicate that he quit his job soon after, went into business for himself, poured all his savings into it and is not out of the red yet. They also indicate that he spends much of his time buying gold pieces off eBay and storing them in expensive safes for the pending worldwide financial Armageddon lol - also that he rents large storage units where he stores the spoils of his newly found hoarding habit. Not sure if he is still following the tips of Jim Cramer. I just noticed this week that Cramer has come out with a new book advocating for a more conservative investing style, lol. Ah, the irony.

Sometimes we only discover later that we jumped off the train just in time.

My only point here is that I am all for loving lifelong partnerships, but feel that people don't view marriage for what it really is - a legal and financial contract.

BFG
How many retired people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Only one, but he takes all day.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Dulocracy » Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:56 pm

As a divorce attorney who sees this a lot, my advice would not be to avoid the marriage altogether. If your styles are different, discuss it prior to marriage to work something out. After a few months of dating, start talking about investing. Share it as you would other interests. With my wife, it is amazing how much she appreciated that I was thinking about such things. She was not frugal until I started discussing investing with her. I would ask things like, "Hey, I have a couple hundred dollars extra this month... we could have some fun with it (vague) or put it towards the purchase price of our next house (specific). She now sees the value of putting money aside. She understands the need to invest. She would have put in the amount to get the match in her 401k before knowing me. Now, she puts in 37%. She still is not as frugal as I am (we recently started discussions about the thermostat that I keep on 62. She would prefer 64, and I am going to give in on it). While we are not perfectly compatible in the frugality/money sense, she understands my goals. Since they make sense and involve saving money for our future together, she is on board. Had she not come around to at least a viewpoint that I could work with, we would not have been married.

The key, then, like many issues in marriage, is communication BEFORE it becomes an issue. Work those things out. Understand your spouse may still spend more money than you do. You may never understand why they need $200 frilly dresses (or whatever it is that your future spouse likes), but if you are at least able to work out a common ground / common goal, you will be much better off. Not having this discussion and understanding will make some lawyer in your state money down the road.
I'm not a financial professional. Post is info only & not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists with reader. Scrutinize my ideas as if you spoke with a guy at a bar. I may be wrong.

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Re: Single & Frugal or Coupled & (Financially) Incompatible?

Post by Savvy » Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:01 pm

Married and frugal is the best! :D

FWIW, we're in our 20s. My wife would be the first to admit she knew very little about money prior to our marriage. Once she understood more about saving for retirement, where money goes, how to budget, etc. she appreciated frugality more. A big portion of people just don't know very much and therefore have little reason to be frugal. (i.e. well I have enough in my checking account to pay for this so I can afford it).

As others have said, compromise is very important with finances. Compromise becomes easier when each person strives to really understand where the other is coming from. Good luck! :beer

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