OK so you’re out there, eyeing the opposite sex, enjoying the chase and almost always never getting caught! Mother Nature set it up that way – the guy has the joy of pursuit and the girl has the thrill of playing with fire – without getting burned! She turns lust into love. Wait a minute! I’m a CPA, a number cruncher, so I’m on soft ground here – what do I know about all this? I should ask YOU..some things bother me, though. There are undercurrents going on in the dating game, slow burning desires that can’t be ignored, desires that burn brighter as you mature through dating through relationships through …what? Old fashioned marriage? Don’t switch off yet – we covered that in my last article, about how to choose the right life-mate. How? By having fun in the dating game, learning how to flush out the other’s attitude toward a relationship that is a true partnership, not one of those patriarch-type “Head of Household” unions. That simple. It’s becoming really important these days. Hear about Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes recently? Blew the socks off all the actors and actresses as she talked about the “Me Too” movement. Women are coming on strong, raising the bar on the struggle for equality – power, actually. Now for the numbers, the part I love. I think one effect on dating is that women are going to have to step up to the plate more often. Going to Catalina with a day date for the dolphins? Buy your own ticket, girls. Show you’re an equal partner, and you men, expect it, teach them.
I have another one – another slow burner. It’s the hunger for a home. Home. Your own home. It’s a powerful urge, a nascent glimmer in the dating phase that grows stronger as you mature. But it won’t just happen – you have to start the plan NOW- it could take ten years. Saving for a down payment doesn’t have to be much, right now. But, it’s important to start. Set a percentage of your paycheck. It’s tough when you don’t make much yet, and you gotta look your best, and that costs money. Just get the habit going and one day for sure you’ll be in your own first condo. It’s too early to talk about retirement, but just so you know, your own home that’s paid off is the best part of a retirement plan.
Let’s move on to relationships. Can I just give you a little note of caution from a CPA? It’s this: don’t buy property jointly. Couches, cars, condos; whatever. Not joint. The great beauty of relationships is that there is no commitment. You can gawk, walk and hop quickly. Don’t get caught after a split trying to untangle joint ownership and/or sale of property. I’ve seen it and tried to help some of my tax clients unscramble their joint assets and resolve tax disputes when they got tangled up that way. It’s a nightmare. Keep your separate property, separate.
Let’s look down the road, to long term relationships. Bit touchy here; you millennials are all for it. I know what you’re saying: “Don’t lecture me about marriage! Isn’t marriage a trap, and isn’t it dying out? Just look at the divorce rate – 50%!” Result? Relationships are lasting longer. Supposing a relationship is morphing into something permanent. It may happen to you. The rules change. Priorities become STABILITY and SECURITY. That makes it natural to start accumulating assets. What happens to all this if there’s a split? Or if six other disasters hit you, like bankruptcy, IRS levy, lawsuit, and the 3 D’s: disappearance, disability, death! The alarm bells should be ringing! This is when you need to change the plan. Get your name on everything to claim your share of ownership. The best defense is – you guessed it – marriage – where both parties have the entire judicial system fairly sorting out marital assets. Common law arrangements simply don’t cut it in court and don’t have the same prestige socially. Score one for marriage!
My book on the subject tells the story of a young couple who started a business and raised a family. Perfect relationship. Didn’t need to get a marriage license. But a schism did occur and one partner was thrown out of the family business. That partner was not entitled to the protection of the divorce court, and couldn’t prove anything about ownership. Had to spend thousands suing in civil court to get something – anything. Two morals for long term relationships — get your name on everything and get married!
Is marriage dead? Well maybe, and maybe not. Marriages still happen in great numbers, but something IS wrong. It’s that 50% divorce rate. Back to what Oprah is preaching. Women are now partners, and that’s the key to the marriage of the future. It is joint ownership and management of marital assets – joint control. This is what cements the pair-bond such that a breakup is not even considered. This is “How to Bulletproof Your Marriage”. That’s the back title of my new book coming out on Amazon. The front title is “How Your Husband Screws You in Divorce”. It’s for really for both men and women. Read it when you’re in a relationship. It’s a must.
John Stirling Kinross