We were walking through the clearance aisle. My husband picked up an item, “Oh! We should get this! We could use this…..” That’s about as far as I listened before coming up with a ton of reasons (in my head) not to buy the item. I interrupted, “I didn’t know you needed that. How long have you wanted it? How often will you use it? Where will we keep it? Where’s the money coming from? Is it worth it?” And as I’m asking all those questions I watch his face fall. I was one of those people who would go shopping for a specific thing, find what would work, and make an excuse not to buy it. I would go back to the same item three different outings and rehash the processes. And when I finally convinced myself to take the “risk” and buy, the store no longer sold it.
My husband and I frequently interacted that way our first year of marriage. I was a tightfisted saver and my husband was an openhanded spender.
Fortunately, we lived in a town of about 600 people. Consequently, less financial decisions to get into conflict over. We chose to look at our differences as an opportunity to grow.
The tool that had the greatest impact on our growing together was a budget. I know, most people who have never lived by a budget go running, screaming from that word. But it’s true.
Since I am the detail-oriented person, my husband let me create our budgeting chart, and he looked it over when I was done. It was easy enough to agree on where to allocate finances, but when it came to implementing our plan….
It was hard at first. But practice makes perfect.
The budget convinced me visuals are valuable. Each time money was spent we could see how the numbers were affected. More than once my husband said, “I didn’t realize I was spending that much money!” More than once the numbers proved to me that yes, we could afford to have fun. Maybe even splurge a little.
We meet more in the middle now on finances, but still retain our individuality. Now we view ourselves as a perfect match for balancing each other out. My husband is the idealist who sees endless possibilities, and I am the realist who asks the tough questions. We are both creative and use that to our advantage in coming up with solutions.
I know every partnership is different. But when there is more than one person involved in finances it needs to be a partnership—a team effort—or nothing will be accomplished, other than a downward spiral.
What are things you and your spouse do to grow together in the area of finances?