It’s a common scenario, one person in a couple is a spender, the other wants to save. Fighting over money puts strain on even the best relationship. So how do you work through what seems like a major difference in approaching life?
The key is to understand what is behind the money conflict. Begin, by talking about what your experiences were with money growing up. When couples begin to share on this level, understanding is greatly increase. For example, if one person grew up scrimping for even the basics, spending money on anything that seem superfluous can create problems. If you had parents who planned, paid only cash for things and did not create debt, you will have a tendency to bring these ideas into your relationship. The point is you need to spend time talking about the type of philosophy you were raised with, and what your experiences mean to you when it comes to shaping your ideas about money. I have found that most couples skip this step and simply react to each other.
First, listen to each other and address whatever fears are involved. This is where most of the emotion over money is found. You need to understand each other and your life experiences when it comes to handling money.
Next set a few long term goals. For example, we want to pay off our credit cards in the next year, save 5% of our income and begin to fund a retirement account.
Prioritize. Where will you begin? What is the most important change to make to ease tension and get both of you feeling better about your differences?
Once you agree on where you are going and what the priorities are, then set specific short term solutions on how to get there, e.g., we will apply $20 a week to three credit cards, or we will put $100 a month into a IRA, etc.
It helps to establish a budget. It takes much of the emotion out of play and gives structure for impulsive spending and overly rigid people.
Finally, decide who is primarily responsible to pay bills and provide accountability. It is better to do this ahead so that when you have to hold the other person accountable, you can say, ‘Remember, we agreed I will do this.”