In this column, we answer readers’ pressing financial questions. No question, big or small, is off limits. Ask away by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This week, we attempt to tackle the age-old question of what you should do when you don’t agree with your partner about money.
Q: I am 35-years-old and have been married for five years. My husband and I get along well on most counts, but we can’t seem to agree about how to spend money. He is completely stingy when it comes to money and hates to ever spend on clothes, vacations, or really anything nice, and hates it when I do, too. I wouldn’t say I am a spendthrift, but I like to splurge every once in a while (I work hard, and deserve it). I am sick of getting into a fight every time I buy an expensive pair of shoes or propose we go to a fancy restaurant. What should I do? Call me Desperate To Get Along!
A: Hi Desperate To Get Along! First of all, take a deep breath. Second, bare in mind that a huge number of couples fight about money, with 35% saying it is the biggest cause of friction in their relationship.
Now, the advice I am about to give is based on the assumption that you and your husband are relatively healthy financially speaking. If that’s not the case (if there are debts or a big expense coming up to worry about) you are going to want to take a very different approach.
But let’s assume that’s not what is going on. The first thing that it’s important to do is to have an honest conversation with your husband to make sure that he understands your concerns and how much his attempts to control your finances are impacting you. Just the conversation alone, though, likely isn’t going to be enough to really change things (money habits die hard).
That’s why it’s important to follow up that conversation with a strategy. We’ve heard of couples in a similar boat doing all kind of things, for instance a husband or wife paying themselves a monthly stipend to spend on whatever he or she wants, no questions asked. Another idea is to have your own bank accounts, with the understanding that you won’t be on top of each other, monitoring each dime that goes out. Then, at the end of the month, sit down as a couple and go over your finances for the month to make sure you are on the same page.
Beyond coming up with a strategy to give yourself financial freedom, consider automating how much you are saving each month, using an app like Digit which will automatically pull money into your savings account for you. That way, your husband can feel confident that you are on the right path, and saving appropriately as a family.
Remember: There is no one size fits all solution, you are probably going to have to experiment to find one that works for you.
Give us a shout and let us know it goes!
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Feature Illustration: Laura Caseley For The Money Manual