The Love and Money Mix – 3 Tips On Making It Work

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.


11 thoughts on “The Love and Money Mix – 3 Tips On Making It Work

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  1. Beth

    Love this post!! I actually did have "the talk" with my fella before starting the Spending Fast, and he was crazy supportive. My biggest problem now is that he wants to spend money on me – which makes me uncomfortable.

    We were big time "splitters" with everything before, but now when we go to a bar with friends he wants me to still be able to join in & enjoy a drink. Since I'm not spending money, he buys it for me. I accept (he's very persistent), and certainly appreciate the gesture – but that doesn't make it any less awkward. Just because I'm trying to save money, doesn't mean I want someone else to be spending their hard-earned money on me!

    I've been figuring out ways to nip this in the bud though. Sometimes just saying "Meh, I don't really feel like drinking tonight" is enough! Or when he wants to take me out for food because I'm whining about cooking something, I'll just say "Oh wait! We totally have that leftover pasta in the fridge!" or something, and just get off my lazy butt & make it work.

    Same goes for friends too – and lately I've been hosting a lot of potluck dinners / brunches at my house! I really think that has been saving my butt – however I hope nobody gets tired of them! ;) Haha!

  2. Rich

    Interesting topic; but hard to relate to this post. All of our finances were merged on the day we got married. So my spending is her spending and vice-versa. While this simplifies financial accounting, it makes financial decisions a little harder. My wife is on board with reducing our debt; however, our desires and approach differ. Some decisions were easy (e.g. satellite tv, eating out). However, it is the day to day impulse spending that causes friction.

  3. Shelley

    So awesome to hear that another couple (besides my husband and I) didn't immediately merge bank accounts! We seriously thought we were the only ones. I'm a penny pincher and he likes to spend, and the idea of combining our accounts gave us both the heebie-jeebies, so we just…didn't. And that's worked awesomely :)

  4. Kara

    Nice post. While my husband and I were engaged, we shared one account and each held a separate one. When we married, we kept this system for a little over a year before discussing how to merge into just one.

  5. Laura Vanderkam

    We kept finances separate until we had kids. Then there really were truly joint expenses (e.g. childcare). But we both have separate savings/investment accounts from the money we earned before we got married. We can invest according to our own styles in those (and we have different philosophies!)

  6. Ella

    I am all for keeping it separate also when married. You only need a joint account where both contribute to joint expenses. I would never put all my earnings in a joint account it's too risky.

  7. Anna Newell Jones

    Yeah, it's a tough one for couples Rich. It seems one is usually the "spender" while one is the "saver" even if it's just in relation to one another.

  8. Anna Newell Jones

    It's so important to do what works for you! I know of a couple that have been married over 20 years and they've never shared a bank account so it does happen.

  9. Anna Newell Jones

    That's so cool Laura that you can have some autonomy with your own investments and then a joint account too. I like hearing how you're handling this because it's not all "joint" or all "separate". It's a nice compromise. Oh, compromise…;)

  10. florencelikeitaly

    My dude and I are completely joined in our finances and he’s the primary breadwinner. I contribute some with my part time work. This has caused some friction over our 5 years of marriage but with some big goals on the horizon we decided to buckle down together and leave our baller lifestyle behind. Your blog has been such helpful resource! I can’t stop telling my friends about it :)

    One bit of advice is that a couple (whether they’re splitting or sharing money) can NEVER talk enough about money. I think we’ve gone from talking about money about three times a month to talking three times a day. I’ve also noticed that with the increase in talking the conversations have gone from slightly tense and annoying to casual and routine (and, dare I say… enjoyable?).

    Relationships and money can be so tedious so I appreciate you opening up the dialogue!

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that discussing finances with their partner is enjoyable! Good for you! Yeah, so good to talk about so hard to actually do. Do you have any tips you can share that got you to where you are today?


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