I recently met with a client, who confirmed my decision to start my own company focused on financial fitness and well-being. In my previous job as a financial advisor, I was primarily responsible for managing his money (or his assets), and he has significant money. In my new role, I help my clients manage and understand their assets as well as their liabilities (credit cards, student loans and other debts). This is an important change for this client in particular. Even though he has substantial assets, in the past few years, his spending has gotten out of control to the point that now his debt between his home and credit cards is almost as much as his investment portfolio. When we sat down recently, we started discussing the plan of how we were going to stop some of his bad spending habits and focus more on the lifestyle that he would like to live which would require less money over time. He said to me, “Shannon, I need tough love. I need someone to tell me NOT to buy things.” He wished that his partner was that person, but his partner was just along for the ride with him.
I see this so much in relationships. There is frequently one person who is the “spender” and one person who is the “saver.” This difference in financial personality types often leads to years of fighting and many times, divorce. For those who stay together, it certainly causes strains at various points in the relationship as the saver has a difficult time telling the spender “No” and giving that person tough love. Relationships are hard enough as it is and when you are working through it day in and day out, you pick your battles and sometimes you let the “spending battle” go for another day. The problem with this strategy is that the spending battle does not go away, and bad spending habits as a couple can create huge problems over time. I love that I can now give tough love to my clients so that his or her significant others can give them a different kind of love. But if you do not have a third party like me, don’t be afraid to use tough love with your overspending loved one. They need it. They may not like you for doing it, but they will be happy that you did down the road. Embrace tough love and save them and their finances from becoming a disaster.