Coping with definite differences in money matters challenges even the most otherwise-matched couples. You can love all things about your mate and your time together. But when one is a spender and the other is a saver this discrepancy can be a deal breaker. A tendency to buy without restraint may seem cute or funny at the beginning of a relationship. A reluctance to let go of one extra dollar likewise can just seem like an amusing fixation. But when both of you realize the other really treats money and spending 180 degrees differently suddenly nobody is laughing.
If the two of you hold very divergent views on spending and saving talking about the issue is crucial. Hoping the spendthrift will “grow out of it” or that the miser will loosen the purse-strings does not get at the underlying issue. If the spending philosophies are deeply entrenched it is unlikely that simply hoping each of you moves toward the other will take care of the problem. A serious discussion about budgeting, short and long term saving, and financial planning needs to happen.
It may just be that both of you need to better understand the priorities of the other. Also you can find common ground if you have an honest and heartfelt discussion about money. If neither of you is at the extreme of your financial “type”, compromise is possible. Furthermore consider stronger measures to ensure agreement on how money will be spent.
Separate — Yet Combine — Finances
Clarifying how the income each of you brings will be allocated is a good way to start the discussion. An option would be to have a joint account each partner funds for common obligations. Like family vacations, housing, food, utilities, child care, retirement, and the like. Depending on how much each partner makes the individual contributions could be equal. Or the higher earner could add more, based on the difference in earning partner. The partner would spend the amount each has spent as they see fit.
This can work if the couple is fairly affluent. However if an argument can be made that almost every cent the couple makes has an obligation attached. The dissonance related to overspending or being tight-fisted will continue and perhaps increase. Other events like unemployment or the birth of children can change the financial landscape. Revisit the original decision. Because flexibility is key as you both should expect your financial situation to experience flux as time goes by.
Ask A Professional
If the difference in financial approach is significant it can bleed into other areas of your relationship. As a result causing major disagreements, fighting, sadness, and pain. Before your relationship completely tanks over spending habits consider talking with a professional. As a result you might want to start with a marriage or relationship counselor. Then see if that person can recommend a financial advisor who can help the two of you find some balance.