I learned years ago that getting married means having to compromise. I like my home neat and organized. Or, to put it another way, the sight of clutter messes with my sanity. My husband is a little more apt to toss the mail haphazardly on the table and deal with it when he has time.
That’s just one difference he and I have had to reconcile over the years. A more pressing matter we had to work on early on, though, was our finances.
My husband is more of a spender than I am. But that simplifies things a little.
The truth is that I tend to spend less than my husband because I tend to be more financially anxious than he is. Whereas he tends to take a more level-headed approach to things like unplanned expenses, I tend to get upset when things like home and car repairs pop up out of nowhere. It’s that mindset that makes it easier for him to spend a little more freely.
Despite our different outlooks on money, we manage, for the most part, not to fight about it. Here’s how.
1. We establish common goals
While my husband and I may have different preferences when it comes to day-to-day spending, one thing we’re definitely on the same page about is long-term goals. It’s important to both of us to have a retirement nest egg, and we want to be able to put our children through college to a reasonable degree.
We also, years back, decided we wanted to be in a position to purchase a second home and have money in a dedicated savings account for that purpose. Synching up on big goals helps us avoid conflict because ultimately, that’s more important than the smaller purchases or splurges we might make along the way.
2. We follow a budget
My husband and I both agree that it’s important to be financially aware — to have a budget that maps out our various expenses and helps us see where our money goes month after month. The budget we have was set up together. And every so often, we sit down to review that budget to make sure it’s still accurate.
We also make a point to assess our budget when our income or expenses change so we know we’re on the same page. This year, for example, we’re planning to replace our 15-year-old car, and so we know we’ll have an extra monthly loan or lease payment to deal with once we do. That means we’ll need to work together to figure out how to compensate.
3. We each get an allowance to spend
One line item in our budget is an allowance of sorts for each of us — a sum that my husband and I can each spend without having to involve one another in that decision. Now I’ll admit that sometimes, I don’t spend my monthly allowance. But that’s my choice. And as long as my husband sticks to his allocated limit, I can’t, and don’t, gripe about the fact he’s buying gadgets I think are needless.
It’s all about communication
What ultimately makes money not an issue in my household is openness and communication. My husband and I may not see eye-to-eye on everything finance-related, but we talk through and carve out solutions in light of that. And while I won’t pretend we never bicker about money matters, for the most part, it’s not an issue like it is for so many couples.
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