You’re a saver, but you married a spender
You are a proud penny pincher. You are practical and methodical when it comes to saving and spending. Maybe even a little too much.
Your partner, on the other hand, is more of a spender.
That can be a problem.
“Let’s face it, most divorces are over money,” said Beth Lynch, a certified financial planner and financial consultant with Fort Pitt Capital Group.
So, how can you make it work?
Reveal your money baggage
There’s a reason why one person goes on a shopping spree after a bad day, while another clings to every dollar earned.
A lot of our relationship with money stems from what we learned directly and indirectly from our childhood.
“I call it voices from the past. Money habits are usually influenced by parents, religion, teachers, friends and now social media,” said Judith Gruber, a psychotherapist who often works with couples and individuals over money issues.
She added that spenders tend to be very generous with themselves and others while a saver might equate money with security.
Knowing the history of your partner’s money habits can help you be more understanding and compassionate to their behaviors.
Create a budget that you both can live with
Once you have a better understanding of your significant other’s relationship with money, sit down and create a budget that works for both parties.
Break down how much income you have coming in each month, your fixed expenses like housing, transportation and food, and also discretionary spending like entertainment, dinning out and travel.
The next step is figuring out what each person is comfortable spending and saving each month and reconciling those amounts.
Remember: it’s give and take. The more conservative person should feel comfortable with the spending and the spender shouldn’t feel overly constrained.
For some couples, experts suggested having separate checking accounts outside of their shared savings and checking accounts can help keep the financial peace.
For instance, if both contribute to a checking account that pays for split expenses like housing, car, insurance, child care and groceries, then each couple would also have their own checking account with money to spend (or not) as they see fit.
“Having a fun account gives some security and a feeling of not having to ask for money to do something,” said Lynch.
Experts advised the contribution amount to the joint account be proportional to each person’s salary.
And when it comes to bill paying, both parties should be involved. “Both people don’t need to sit down and write a check together, but try alternating months,” said Gruber.
Creating a spending threshold
Set a spending limit that each person can spend without having to consult the other person.
“Somebody who is saving a lot and puts limitations on everything, the other party, the spender, can feel very hurt,” said Gruber.
The number is going to be different for every couple, so take the time to think about what you can afford and both people are comfortable with.
Anne Brennan Malec, founder of Symmetry Counseling in Chicago, added that it can also help to set a monthly spending threshold.
“It should be the same for both partners, even if one earns more than the other,” said Malec.
Have a regular money date
Don’t be scared to talk about money.
At least once a month, sit down and review your finances: figure out how much are you saving, what was spent last month and talk about any upcoming big expenses.
Consider having this meeting in a public space.
“Talking about money can lead to a lot of emotional escalation and defensiveness,” said Malec. “You might also be more likely to keep your temper in check in a public place.”
Bring in a third party
Sometimes you need a neutral third party to find some middle ground.
Talking to a certified financial planner or financial therapist can help negotiate an agreeable budget and also get to the root of the money habits.
“One benefit of a financial therapist or other mental health professional is that he or she can help to uncover beliefs and expectations about money that is likely a significant cause of conflict,” said Malec.