The experience prompted her to write her first book, "Prince Charming Isn't Coming: How Women Get Smart About Money," and embark on a lifetime of teaching women to manage their own financial lives.

"When you take charge of your money," she said, "you take charge of your life."

That doesn't mean you have to go it alone. You just have to change Prince Charming's job description, Stanny said. "He's no longer our rescuer or our savior. He's our partner."

It's time for full disclosure: I didn't marry for money, and I'm glad.

I tried dating investment bankers and other masters of the universe. But when I finally felt confident enough to provide for myself, financially and emotionally, I promptly met the man of my dreams.

He wasn't rich -- far from it. But he wasn't a financial mess either. In the more than a dozen years we've been happily married, we've grown richer together in every sense.

So here's my advice to women, and men, when it comes to love and money:

Be your own Prince Charming. That means being fully self-supporting and having finances that work. Live within your means, save for retirement, have an emergency fund, and pay off credit card debt. Don't wait for another person or a lottery ticket to save your bacon.

Once you've got your finances on track, then:

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Don't marry anyone who will screw it up. And yes, despite some of the protestations I've heard from the divorced, you usually can see it coming if you choose to look.

Gamblers, addicts and drunks will put you on the fast track to financial misery, but so will someone who won't control his spending, who drags around credit card debt and who refuses to save for the future.

Most often, money problems in marriage are less dramatic. You can save yourself a lot of pain by ditching the rescue fantasies, discussing your finances honestly and creating together a financial plan for your future.

Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy" (find it on Bing). Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Join the conversation and send in your financial questions on Liz Weston's Facebook fan page.