My husband and I, thankfully, have similar styles. He’s more of a tightwad than I am, but we can find the middle ground after a bit of discussion…OK, maybe a lot of discussion. But we’re talking and compromising, and eventually it makes us both financially content.
Come to an agreement
At the beginning of our marriage, we let almost a year go by before we actually had a talk about “our” money. There was trouble brewing. Among other things, what I spent on household items troubled him and I was annoyed by his pickiness. Several heated debates got us nowhere, so we decided to calmly sit down and go over the finances.
We use personal finance software on our computer to track our finances. I believe several new budget categories saved our relationship:
Household & Groceries – The money I use to buy groceries, toiletries, etc. was made more transparent for my husband by putting it in its own category. In addition, I use the “split” function and itemize the receipt if it contains items that go in another category.
Fishing – Boat fuel, fishing gear, bait, launch fees and licensing fees go in this category. If I’m curious, I can check how much my husband is spending on gear and supplies. He also checks it every so often to see if he feels his spending is out of control.
Home Improvement – My husband used to file these expenses into the Household & Groceries category, thus inflating the totals and making my heart jump when I would check my spending. Once the Home Improvement category was created, it made it easier for me to track any overspending on food and household goods.
Share your information
There should be no hiding big purchases in a financially blissful marriage. I thought we were in trouble when my husband came home the other day and gushed, “You won’t believe the deal I got on these fishing rods!” My initial thought was, “What happened to my thrifty husband, who can always be relied on to resist spending?” Once recovered, I rallied and asked about the great deal (which was really good) and thanked him for letting me know.
Luckily, he felt comfortable sharing his splurge with me. He could have easily hidden it and I would have wondered where the money went and created a scene.
I have to admit there are small purchases that go unmentioned: the serving of sushi I add to the grocery cart and the candy bars that he grabs at the hardware store, but those haven’t caused trouble yet.
Agree on savings
In these financially strapped times, what could be harder than adding to your savings? Not having a savings at all!
Our first budget included retirement savings, investment funds, and a general savings allotment. It sure seemed like a lot off the top at the time, but it has gotten easier over the years. Agree on the amount together and take it out right away every month. Add to that amount when one of you gets a raise. You’ll learn to live without that money and soon won’t even notice it’s gone.
Take turns paying the bills
My husband’s work gets busier this time of the year, so I take over paying the bills. In the beginning, I’d hang back and let him do the work even though I’d spent the previous 14 years handling my own finances. Finally, he turned to me and said, “You know, you could help here!”
While not words of romance, this prod reminded me he was fine with my involvement in our finances. Now, whoever has the time makes sure the bills are up-to-date. If something is outstanding, we leave it in a central place where the other can pick it up when time allows.
Check in regularly
We are due for an update meeting. It’s been several months since we’ve discussed our savings plan and how paying off our debts is going. Christmas, and its associated expenses, is coming…
Once you are on the same financial page as your spouse, check in at least every three months to make adjustments, discuss the savings, and chat about any financial goals, i.e. paying off debt, starting the kids’ college fund, or taking out a loan to repair the roof.
In these meetings, make sure the other is completely comfortable with how the spending and savings is going. If not, be willing to discuss improvements. Make adjustments to the budget. Re-evaluate in at least another three months.
After all these years, I can’t say our financial life is worry-free, but I know my husband and I have a plan and have learned to trust each other with “our” money. Now that’s a blissful marriage!
Image courtesy of HR