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"$ingletary $ays," Nat'l TV
show on personal finance
Has Washington Post column, "The Color of Money" syndicated to more
than 130 newspapers across the country
A regular contributor to NPR'S Day to Day
Appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, Nightline, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and other popular shows
Masters in Business and Management, University of Maryland
M.B.A., John Hopkins University
Married with 3 children
YOU AND YOUR MONEY
Michelle Singletary would like people to know that her book, Your Money and Your Man, is not just a book for women. Don't let the title fool you. Though the book is speaking to women, she encourages men to read the book as well. Michelle offers financial advice to people in committed relationships, single people who are looking for a relationship, or those who remain single. She tells people how to handle their money from being single and dating to being married, having children, and preparing for retirement.
FINANCIAL ADVICE FOR THE SINGLE
For single women, Michelle says don't wait for a man to come around to have financial security. Many times women don't plan financially because they're waiting to get married to own their own home or to plan for retirement. Only 30 percent of women describe themselves as "confident" or “risk takers" when it comes to managing their finances (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). Michelle says do not wait to get married to buy your home. It makes no financial sense to forgo accumulating home equity waiting on the right man to come along. If you wait and never find a partner, you’ll be a renter without a house or a man. In reality, Prince Charming may never show up. Or when he does, he’s likely to be supporting his first wife and child. Or he has two nickels to rub together…but one of them belongs to somebody else. Be prepared to support your household.
Here are some things Michelle suggests for single women to do: set financial goals for yourself and write them down; set short-term goals (establish three to six month emergency fund), intermediate goals (saving for a down payment on a home), and long-term goals (saving for retirement); figure out just where your money is going; develop a financial contingency plan; get a will; get disability insurance; make sure you are participating in your employer's retirement savings plan; pay attention to small expenditures; and pay for things in cash rather that credit (cash is better than credit).
When dating, Michelle says it is critical to look at how a potential mate handles his money. How much he makes is not as important as what he does with what he makes. Each person needs to decide for themselves what their "financial deal breakers" (Ex. he doesn't want give to charity) would be. As a woman goes on dates, she should look for "red flags" that might indicate future problems. Is he miserly? Does he gripe about tipping? Is he too lavish with his gifts? Michelle says one should recognize the "red flags" and be prepared to walk. She also suggests not to mix money during dating. Don't get joint bank accounts, lend money to each other, or act like you're married financially until you are actually married.
TO WED OR NOT
If dating goes well and a couple is thinking about marriage, this is the time to discuss financial goals and share credit reports. She suggests pre-marital counseling with a strong financial components. This is also the time to incorporate the three Cs: communicate honestly, learn to compromise, and set common goals. Exchange views on money before exchanging wedding vows. Talk about your money differences. Then talk some more. It is important to get and review all three credit reports and credit scores to see how your potential mate has been handling his money.
YOUR MARRIAGE AND YOUR MONEY
When it comes to marriage, money is the #1 problem couples fight about, though usually the arguments stem from something else, like feelings of fear or resentment. Michelle stresses there should be an open dialogue between partners. Many times, couples fail to communicate or compromise. They marry people who don't share their financial goals, or they act like roommates and not people partnered for life. It’s imperative to establish a set of guidelines for how you deal with money in your household. Two key rules that Michelle suggests are:
1. Two yeses, one no – for major purchases (and each couple can decide for themselves what those are), don't make that purchase unless both partner agree on it
2. Have an income bracket. For example, no purchases of, say $200 or more, without first consulting each other. The point of this rule is to get you to discuss your spending. Even if you both keep separate accounts, it is important to talk about your joint and separate expenditures. No financial secrets. No secret bank accounts. No earnings that are not disclosed. Again, even if you decided to keep separate bank accounts, you should make full financial disclosure a hard and fast rule in your house. No financial tit for tat.
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