Relationships and money are super tricky so when I decided it was time to drastically change my financial situation there is no doubt that one of the absolute hardest parts of the entire process was that it affected my relationship with my brand-new husband Aaron.
We had been used to spending our time together in certain ways and by doing certain things. When we wanted to eat out we did. If we felt like seeing a movie? Out we went. If we wanted to wander around the mall and shop, we did that too. (It’s not that I had the money to do all that, it’s those habits that helped to get me into trouble with debt.)
My husband Aaron is a natural saver. He can let money sit in his bank account and just let it be. My relationship with money has been a, um, ahem, process, so while I remain a natural spender I’ve figured out some things along the way.
I’ve done many wrong things and a couple of right things when it comes to money and relationships and it’s been quite an awkward lurch to fiscal responsibility.
Have a talk first If you are thinking about drastically changing your spending habits it’s probably a good idea to talk to your partner before beginning the process. I didn’t to do this because I was desperate to get out of debt. I didn’t want to risk the possibility of my husband not being on board with my Spending Fast idea so I completely skipped it. I’m all about telling you like it is so I have to say, there were some pros to skipping the conversation. The main one was that I could go full force into the Spending Fast when I was motivated and determined to do so. The con of skipping the talk was that he didn’t feel like he had a say in this life changing thing that I chose to do and that was an problem, as you might have guessed.
Be okay with separate bank accounts When my husband and I first got married I thought, “We have to have a joint account! That’s what married people do!” Since we don’t have kids it was actually better for us to keep our money separate. Sure it can feel strange to split the bill if we go out to eat but it’s what worked for us and I’m sure it spared us a lot of fights too. We now have a joint account along with our individual accounts and we put a certain amount in it at the start of the month and pay for our joint expenses with that account. The key with this lesson is this: go with what works for your relationship even if it’s not what you think everyone else is doing.
Give a little Okay, what they say about compromise is kind of right, but what is more beneficial than that is a general generous spirit. Not so much, “Oh hey honey, I’m going to take you on a shopping spree! Let’s spend all the money because I LOVE YOU!” But more of a, “You did this _____ for me to make me happy and I want to do this _______ to make you happy” attitude.
A couple months into the Spending Fast and it was majorly cramping my style. It was causing extreme stress on my relationship and I knew that if I wanted to continue on with the Spending Fast I was going to have to give a little. That meant implementing a $35 a month allowance. The $35 was so I could do something with my husband or spend some money on him. Since I was in the thick of paying off my debt I really didn’t want to let go of any money that could be going to paying off my completely oppressive debt but I also knew that if I didn’t make the compromise then my husband was probably going to want me to stop the Spending Fast and that was the last thing in the world I wanted.
Eliminating my debt was my primary purpose and I needed to do it so that I could start having some autonomy and some real choices in my life again.
It is possible to have a cohesive mix of love and money. The balance and execution though, that’s a little more complicated.
Curious about how to deal with the social side of cutting your budget? Here’s a related post about money and friendships and then there’s the always complicated issue of: what to do about splitting that bill?!
How do you handle your relationships and money and what have you learned through trial and error? I’d love to know.
This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2012. For more posts about Relationships and Money see the Relationships and Money Roundup.