If you are married, you might know this topic all too well, yet you still have no idea how to successfully agree on savings and expenses with your spouse form day to day. Let me be the first to tell you that I do not have all the answers. I’ve been married for a little over a year and my wife and I are just starting to understand how to talk about a budget and not end up on separate ends of the house after we’ve finished! However, through trial and error and an abundance of discussions, I think we may be on to something.
Based on what I’ve witnessed from our friends and ourselves, men and women can both spend frivolously, but they do it in an entirely different manner. My best friend Bill (not his real name) and his wife Melinda (also not her real name) are a perfect example of this. The last time I was at Bill’s house, we were sitting in his living room chatting, and in comes his wife with a few shopping bags, “You wouldn’t believe the deals that I got today!” I attempted to restrain my eye roll as I thought, “Some more wasted money on useless garbage that will never get used…” Sure enough, she pulled out some wall decorations that she got for a dollar a piece. To me, that was just a waste of money. Most likely, the decorations will get tossed in the closet and will never see the light of day again. $10.00 wasted. You women are probably waiting for the other side of the equation. Yes, the men. It just so happens that my friend Bill called me a few days later. “Dude, I just saw this TV projector and I think I’m going to buy it!” Let’s keep in mind that he already had a 50” television that was perfectly acceptable, but that’s just how men are. We see something bigger and better and we want it immediately. My wife just recently pointed out that I have two rather large TVs and surround sound, which apparently is unnecessary. News to me. Anyway, my point is that both sides of the marriage can throw away money. Women might waste $5.00 every day. Men don’t piddle money away like that, but when we do, you can definitely notice the plummet in your account balance.
Rather than go into boring detail, I’ll assume that we all know how to budget. We set aside a certain amount of money per month for each written category and we force ourselves to stay within those boundaries. Some advisors give little tips here and there to help us not blow the budget from month to month, and they are actually pretty helpful for the short term, but this is not the purpose of my article. I’m looking at the long term. If both you and your spouse can agree on the long-term goals, the smaller setbacks won’t be such a big deal.
The big goal that keeps my wife and I on the same page is to get out of debt. We know when we want to do it, and we know what it’s going to take to get it done by our appointed date. Recently though, this hasn’t been as big of a spark as it should be. It’s time for us to look even further ahead in the future and decide what we are going to do once we are debt free. For me, I have always been interested in the housing market. I want to purchase a house and rent it out for added cash flow (I’ve actually written out a 20 year plan of purchases that lead to financial independence). However, I know my wife does not dream of this at all. She would love to use her artistic abilities in her own business, perhaps a clothing store or bridal shop. We are clearly not on the same page. Once we unite and decide on our avenue together, the day to day money stuff won’t make much difference. We know what our goals are and we both want to get there, so what’s the point in arguing over the petty stuff. Just run the race together and enjoy the moments along the way.