My Husband and I Are Financial Opposites—and It Works

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financial oppositesIn our “Money Mic” series, we hand over the podium to someone with an opinion on a financial topic. These are their opinions, not ours, but we welcome a constructive, thoughtful discussion.

Couples are supposed to discuss their finances before getting married, so you can set expectations and get to know the financial side of your sweetie before you walk down the aisle.

Anyone who has been married for more than a year knows that we have a lot of good intentions before we say “I do,” like promising to divulge financial secrets, share every bit of money fairly and never spend a dime without the other person’s approval.

Yeah, right.

Here’s what my husband knew about me before we got married: I like to spend money.

And here’s what I knew about him: He doesn’t. But somehow, nearly 20 years later, we are still together … even though he still hates the way I spend.

Why We’re So Different When It Comes to Money

My hubby comes from a family of middle-class savers. Despite having money, his parents rarely spent it. In fact, my deprived guy went on just one family vacation during his childhood. That’s it. One trip in 18 years. It’s understandable if money had been tight, but they had the resources, so why deny themselves?

That’s where my upbringing comes in.

I also grew up in a middle-class household with two working parents, but we spent a good deal of our income–and went on at least two or three modest vacations (think Holiday Inn) a year. We also ate out a couple times a week, got new cars every few years and pretty much bought whatever clothes we wanted, when we wanted.

RELATED: Best Financial Adviser – CFP Tips for 2013

My parents probably didn’t have as much saved as is recommended these days, but they considered themselves providers–and wanted their kids to have the things that they didn’t.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that not all families were like that.

So when I met my would-be life partner in my early 20s, and he wanted me to save more than I spent, well, let’s just say that didn’t make for automatic marital bliss–at least for the first few years.

  • Nancyt62

    Thank you so much for this article! My fiance and I have the same issues: I like to spend and he likes to save. I feel overall that we handle it well but as we are about to get married I really like your suggestions of keeping some money for yourself and having both people agree on larger purchases. Thanks again for sharing!!

    • laurashin

      Hi Nancy,

      Glad you like our story, and congratulations on your engagement! If you want more suggestions on how to manage your finances with your fiance, sign up for our Getting Hitched Bootcamp. It has all kinds of tips on getting your financial lives in order, plus fun quizzes and easy-to-follow checklists:

      http://www.learnvest.com/how-lv-works/bootcamps/getting-hitched/

      Check it out!
      Laura

  • WorkerBee

    My hubby and I are similar, except that I am the saver. Actually, he strikes a pretty healthy balance between spending and saving, whereas I probably take the saving a bit too far. When I was single, I arbitrarily put myself on a strict grocery budget and if I ran out, I just wouldn’t eat for the rest of the week, which was crazy as I HAD the money! I just refused to deviate from the budget! He has slowly been bringing me more towards his outlook on money, but it’s been hard and stressful (for me, anyway!)

    We’ve solved a lot of issues by having him buy / pay for most shared household items. At the end of each month, he tells me what my half is and I just write him a check for it. It’s MUCH easier for me that way!

  • Alison

    Having been with my husband for almost 20 years I couldn’t like this article more! Communication and Compromise are definately “where its at” when it comes to marriage and money.  Knowing yout differences (and your similarities) can really help you make the best decisions. The biggest difference that helps us is that he’s the researcher and I’m the impulse buyer.  Either quality can actually be the asset depending on the purchase! When he gets mired in research and seemingly unable to make a decision I can push him a little to just pick one (when clearly either would do just fine).  On the flipside, that look before leaping tendancy on his side has saved us from more than a few potential impulse disasters of mine!

  • LeeLee

    I like this article.  I think it’s healthy to have different opinions in a marriage as long as you can communicate to resolve.

    I am thankful in that my husband and I are both very fiscally similar.  We have a “Save as if you’re going to live forever, live as if you’re going to die tomorrow” philosophy.  We will spend the dough on things (like travel and time with family) that we feel are important, but we make sure to prioritize saving and retirement.  Expensive material goods that we don’t need are typically only gift purchases and not every day purchases. 

    We don’t combine all of our income.  We each put in a set amount into our joint account that covers the mortgage, utilities, insurance, and car.  The remainder that each of us have in our paycheck is ours to spend how we want.  If he wants to spend it golfing, I don’t judge.  If I want to spend it at the spa, he won’t question it.  It’s worked out very well for us for the past 5 years, but we may need to revamp when we have kids.