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Book Review: Smart Couples Finish Rich

Since discovering the local library, I've made it a point to check their inventories first before purchasing the book. This time around, I was interested in the book "Smart Couples Finish Rich" by David Bach (The guy who invented "The Late Factor"). Luckily enough, I found the book in the library online catalog and put it on reserve.

Upon receiving the book, I quickly dove right in. After reading his other books "The Automatic Millionaire" and "Smart Women Finish Rich", this book had a very familiar tone, but with a twist. Instead of the typical "Pay Yourself First" and "Contribute to your RRSP" advice that I'm used to reading about, this book focused on finances for couples and their relationship with money. What really hit home for me was where he explains that "Money has nothing to do with Love", and that money can be the #1 source of argument between couples if it's not addressed.

The book can really be divided into two portions. The first portion works on the relationship between money and couples and suggestions on how to fix money related problems, the second portion talks about compound interest, investing, wills, insurance and saving.

My favorite part of the book was the "Value Circle" chapter. In this chapter it made you think about the important "Values" in your life and how to base your financial goals around your values instead of monetary goals. This exercise was meant for you and your spouse/partner to sit down and see which values are important and how to line them up for a common purpose.

Main points made by the book:

  • Couples need to plan their financial future TOGETHER.
  • Couples should be on the "same page" when it comes to their finances.
  • Base your financial goals based on VALUES not just monetary goals.
  • Everyone should have some sort of insurance and a will.
  • Step 1: Learn the Facts and Myths about Couples and Money
  • Step 2: Determine the True Purpose of Money in Your Life
  • Step 3: Plan Together.. Win Together
  • Step 4: The Couples Latte Factor
  • Step 5: Build your Retirement Basket
  • Step 6: Build your Security Basket
  • Step 7: Build your Dream Basket
  • Step 8: Learn and Avoid the Ten Biggest Financial Mistakes Couples Make
  • Step 9: Increase your Income by 10% in 9 Weeks

What I liked?

  • As explained above, I really enjoyed the "Value Circle" chapter (2).
  • I agree that love has nothing to do with financial compatibility as explained in the book. Financial compatibility should be a addressed BEFORE getting married (IMO).

What I didn’t like?

  • Nothing in particular.

Who should read this?

  • Anyone who is engaged, married or in a serious relationship.

Final Thoughts:

  • Two thumbs UP! Great book that is written clearly and covers topics not covered by other personal finance books.
  • I picked this up at my local library, so check into your library to see if they carry it.

Find out how you can save an additional 4% on this book through Chapters.

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FT About the author: FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • The Financial Blogger July 9, 2007, 7:58 am

    I am always surprised to find out that most couples have separate bank account, separate bills to pay and contribute absolutely half/half for each expense. Even if they are living together and married they are still keeping their money separated. I think this is the start of most financial dispute among couples.

  • FrugalTrader July 9, 2007, 8:38 am

    We keep separate bank accounts for taxation reasons, but we have a pretty good relationship when it comes to money. I think the key is communication.

  • CreditEgghead July 9, 2007, 9:09 am

    I think, the problems usually appear when when one partner makes more money than the other one (I mean, significantly more). This is why it is very important not to separate finances, ther eshould be no ‘your money’ or ‘my money’.

  • Mr. Cheap July 9, 2007, 11:06 am

    David Bach’s “Automatic Millionaire: Homeowner” was what turned me around about real estate (before that I wasn’t impressed with it as an investment vehicle). I recently quickly went through his “Start Late, Finish Rich” book, and I’ve started finding nuanced disagreements I have with some of what he writes, but I think he’s trying to make his books as accessible as possible (and is thus forced to make somewhat misleading generalizations). All-in-all, for the “lite” PF books, I think his are great!

  • FrugalTrader July 9, 2007, 11:40 am

    Mr. Cheap, i haven’t read the “homeowner” edition. What kind of insights does he provide in that book?

  • David July 9, 2007, 12:14 pm

    It is great when couples are truly on the same financial page, however, many are not. Most couples find it far easier to manage separate accounts largely due to the latte factor! If you pool your money, especially if incomes are quite varied, sometimes the lower income partner feels like they have a windfall, and spending habits change. We, like most couples have separate accounts, and split expenditures by category. I deal with the bills, and my partner deals with most of the purchases (groceries, etc.) and entertainment.

    DAvid

  • Mr. Cheap July 9, 2007, 3:04 pm

    FT: My feeling with real estate used to be similar to Canadian Capitalist’s, that it just didn’t sound all that appealing when people talked about making money in real estate.

    Either they’d talk about appreciation (what if you buy at the wrong time or in the wrong area), or cash-flow (I could never find people giving away properties for nothing that could make gobs of money in rent).

    He basically goes over the 5 way to make money with real estate (cash flow, appreciation, tax benefits, leverage and something else I can’t remember right now). Put them together, and it gives you a modestly performing investment (I’m making a little under 7% ROI on my condo) that has the potential to do VERY well (if a boom affected my condo I could do really well, the 7% is before tax considerations, etc, etc).

    The book is basically a pep talk about buying property (if you’re renting, buy a place to live, if you’ve bought a place to live, buy another place to rent out or move and rent out your previous place).

  • Bootsie July 9, 2007, 3:50 pm

    I read this book aloud to my husband during one of our 4 hour drives to visit his parents. It was especailly interesting to stop and discuss the “values” section (my favourite part too FT!) and gave me a little break from continuous reading (though it’s a quick read). I definitely suggest both parties read this book or read it together if that works out for you.

    Thankfully, we have very similar values and almost equal incomes so it makes discussing finances pretty easy. We share our accounts and give ourselves a cash “allowance” each pay cheque and it’s worked out really well.

    I think the bulk of money problems occur when there is too much debt. Realtionships are so much easier when you live below your means and don’t have any substantial debt. That’s my opinion anyway.

  • FrugalTrader July 9, 2007, 4:05 pm

    Bootsie, great comment. Question, you don’t get sick when you read in the car?? :)

  • Gates VP July 9, 2007, 6:00 pm

    (Wow seemingly short reply devolved into a blog post)

    http://gatesvp.blogspot.com/2007/07/how-we-split-money.html

    Basically, my fiance and I maintain joint AND separate banks accounts and we split the shared expenses weighted by our incomes rather than splitting 50/50.

    What are others doing?

  • Q Cash July 9, 2007, 6:31 pm

    I actually keep a copy of that book on my night stand. The values section is pretty important to my wife and I, especially in early retirement (when she is still technically working being a mom, a job she says she isn’t ever giving up :-).

    I liked it as a quick read and as a barometer of where we should be at certain points of our life.

    Q

  • Brenna July 11, 2007, 2:47 am

    I agree on the values. After my husband and I heard the book, we worked on our values together. Now we are working on becoming financially independent.

  • Bootsie July 11, 2007, 11:05 am

    FT,

    Yes, I do sometimes. That’s why taking a break to discuss is especially helpful. :)

  • AJ - IAmFacingMillions.com July 17, 2007, 1:07 am

    All of the books you named are great books. I highly recommend them.

  • nobleea July 17, 2007, 12:36 pm

    FT;

    You mentioned that you and your wife keep accounts seperate for taxation reasons – what type of taxation reasons?

    I took this book out from the library and am half done now. The values section is very good. My friends are all under 30, but I can already tell who is headed for the midlife crises.

    The author seems to have an affinity for trademarking every catch phrase in the book. Cheapens the read somewhat.

  • FrugalTrader July 17, 2007, 12:41 pm

    Nobleea, non-reg investing accounts are taxed in the hands of those who supplied the money. As my wife and I are in two different tax brackets, we set it up so that the lower income spouse does the investing. This is basically to leave a paper trail in case we are audited.

  • mjw2005 July 22, 2007, 3:13 pm

    Unless it is for tax reasons (like FrugalTrader) I see no reason to have separate bank accounts, and splitting the bills 50/50…..I do not understand married couples that do this. There are the costs of having (2) bank accounts, and the pain of having to determine who pays for what bills. Why bother, your married remember….

    We go by the thinking that we are married. Whats mine is hers and what hers is mine. We have a rough budget that we both agree on, we have a single bank account and all our money goes into it and all our bills go out of it. We give ourselves an allowance and that is it…simple and easy….

    I was shocked when I read one poster say that sharing a bank account with a spouse who has significantly lower income than himself/herself will cause that spouse to go on a spending spree because of all the money they now see….sounds very paternalistic….this is your spouse not your child….you have to trust the person you are married to….

    my two cents….

  • David July 22, 2007, 6:58 pm

    MJW2005,
    I hope that your trust is never tested as happened to this poster on Mork.ca some months ago:

    “Well, I haven’t posted to this site since last April, and I’m sorry to say that the update that I’m about to post is not quite as rosy as the last ones.

    November of ’06 – I was in New York on business for two weeks, my wife had a wedding to go to in Las Vegas while I was gone. When I got back, she’d updated all of our Quicken/Quick Books info (as she often albeit rarely has) and life seemed pretty much normal. After I returned home, as Christmas was approaching, I let her know that I was going out shopping. Rather than having me take money out of our account to go shopping, she handed me some cash that she told me she had won at the casinos in Vegas. I didn’t question anything, took the cash and did my shopping. End of December rolls around and my wife did the Quick Books again. I should have sensed something was up, but with the Christmas rush and family visits, I was just thankful that I didn’t have to do it.

    Last week, I went to use my MBNA MasterCard to pay for my gas – it was declined (Not a low-limit card!) – A bit confused, I handed over my M1 debit card. Declined again. This can’t be a good thing.

    Turns out that while my wife was in Vegas, she lost a couple of thousand dollars. Too embarassed to tell me, on her return she began going to the casinos here to try and make it back. When she continued losing, apparently the stakes got higher and she would lose more every time that she went. The debit card would only allow her $1000/day, but the MBNA card would give her up to $10,000 if she went to the cashier at the casino. In under 2 months, we went from being within 5 years of having our house paid off to being back to over 20 years. I can’t blame the account for this, but I know that if the money weren’t as easily accessible this wouldn’t have happened. The M1 worked great for us for almost 2 years. We paid down more principle in that time than we had in the previous 4 years with our RBC mortgage. Unfortunately, things turned bad for us. Now, as well as rebuilding our finances we are going to have to rebuild our relationship. I hope that this never happens to any of you reading this, and I would offer up this piece of advice for anyone considering the M1 product – If you like to gamble, and occasionally find yourself going to an ABM at a casino (even after you’ve told yourself that you’re not going to take more out), this account is not for you.”

    While this is an extreme event, I personally know of many couples who have difficulty managing one spouse’s spending habits, and have heard of many more. Speak to a few debt councillors, or lawyers, and you may learn more such tales.

    Trust is very precarious, and can easily be broken. Finance is one of the most frequent points of argument of couples. Separating one’s finances is one way to reduce the opportunity for such arguments to begin.

    DAvid

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