Money Relationships: A Conversation With My Mechanic

I recently had the 30k mileage service for my vehicle.

You know, the kind that costs you hundreds of dollars for peace of mind that your vehicle is in tip top shape.

So, there I am, waiting for my vehicle.

A conversation ensues with the front desk person about financial planning.  It really made my day; getting questions about financial planning from all walks of life is a salient reason I entered this profession.

‘So how’s your day going, are you done with work for the day?’

‘Pretty good day; yep, workday is done.’

‘What do you do?’

‘I’m a financial planner.’


…and off we go.

He had a barrage of questions, which I love:  Meeting someone who, after discovering what I do, starts sharing their experience, struggles, and relationship with money.

I took his lead in the conversation. It began with the challenges of living below one’s means, trying to save for retirement, wondering if Social Security will still be viable when he retires (likely). And then: ‘What do you think about dating someone who is a spender? Someone who might be in debt?’

My compassion wholly took over: I suspected that he might be hopeful that it wasn’t as important as he feared, even though he knew it was.

I responded carefully: ‘Well, it can be hard to say if someone is a spender or not. For example, what’s their income? What’s their career stage? Those things matter. But, you can find out alot about their money relationship by how they treat money. And that goes for the money they have and the money they don’t have (e.g. debt).’

He looked anxious. “Do you think people can change how they spend money?” “Do you think they can change down the road to focus on saving if they aren’t now?’

uh-oh, I thought. So, I responded with: “Money affects all aspects of our lives; it can lead to peace of mind or it can lead to a state of constant anxiety, with various states in between.”

“Basically, when you think about your own relationship with money, and have come to a place of appreciating how crucial it is to know what your spending you’re money on and how important it is to prioritize saving, ask yourself this:  How will it impact your financial future to be with someone who doesn’t?”

We further discussed his money relationship and his romantic relationship, which had just started a couple of months ago; but he was struggling because he had already developed feelings for this person.

It’s cold comfort when you realize you have a healthier money relationship than most people, worse when it includes your sweetheart.

It’s a universal truth that applies to all of us: Think hard about who you see your future with: Do they have the same maturity with their money relationship as you?

Your romantic relationship and money relationship are intertwined… it’s critical that that’s recognized.

Emotionally investing in a relationship that won’t allow you to financially invest in your future? That will lead to a path of resentment, anger, and frustration, regardless of the relationship’s otherwise positive attributes.

Our relationship with people? A most valuable part of our lives. But our relationship with money? A most inescapable reality of our lives.