How to Handle Different Financial Styles in a Marriage

My husband and I talked a lot about finances while we were dating (you can read about that here), and after we were married we combined our finances and started budgeting and handling our money together (you can read about that here).

One of the best things we did was to take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, a nine week class that walks you through the basics of budgeting, communicating about finances, choosing insurance, saving for retirement, etc. Doing this class together gave us even more to discuss and really kept us on the same page about our goals.

An entire class was dedicated handling money with your spouse, and it breaks people into two categories-Nerd and Free Spirit (this article on Daveramsey.com explains this a little further).

The Nerd is the one that delights in spreadsheets and budgeting and calculating.

The Free Spirit doesn’t really care about those things and wants to spend money as the need arises without quite as much planning.

According to the old saying “opposites attract,” and generally a marriage has one of each. The weird thing about my husband and I is that I wouldn’t fit us into the category of “opposites attract.” We’re very similar in a lot of aspects, and I don’t necessarily think that marrying your complete opposite is a great idea. So when we took the quiz in class, we were scarily similar and both Nerd (he tended a little more Free Spirit than I did).

BUT, there is a but, there are two more categories that you can fit into-the Spender or the Saver. THIS is where we differ. Big time.

Spending money makes me very uncomfortable, which is one of the reasons I LOVE budgeting. It gives me permission to spend money on things and know that we can afford it. I’m a saver and want money tucked away so I can see it and know we have it.

My husband is much more comfortable spending money. It’s generally on things that we need, and it’s always on quality products, but he’s very willing to spend. He’s a spender and wants money to work for him and buy things that are going to make things more efficient (I’m willing to struggle through things if it’s cheaper that way).

So here’s how we handle these differences: We talk, talk, talk.

I make sure to communicate my discomfort, and then I ask a lot of questions which he answers, and this leads to an honest discussion. Some questions I’ll ask include:

  • How much do you think we’ll use this?
  • Will we use it enough to justify the purchase?
  • Is there a cheaper way to accomplish the same goal?
  • Where will we store it? *We have a small house*

Sometimes, even if I’m not entirely comfortable, I’ll agree to a purchase because I trust him and his decisions.

Sometimes, even if he thinks we really need something, he’ll hold off because I’m not comfortable.

The important thing is that we communicate about what we need and how we can both be comfortable with the money we’re spending. If we do buy something, and it doesn’t pan out or we don’t use it, I don’t gloat or say “I told you so.”

If we don’t buy something and it turns out we do need it, he doesn’t throw it in my face. We just put it in the budget and buy it.

Communication is key and being “right” doesn’t matter because you’re not competing over how to spend money. Working as a team and talking through purchases makes you stronger as a couple and staying on the same page about finances keeps your money working for you.

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