Continued from last week…
Where are we now, seven years later? Well, we’ve kind of crossed sides and now he’s more of the Saver and I’m the Spender.
Here’s what worked for us:
1. We didn’t give up. We aren’t married but we tried managing money like a committed couple and had to ease up on our individual money habits; have endless conversations—both screaming at the top of our lungs and using our inside voices; and learn to trust each other’s decisions, which was a challenge. I did refuse to buy a house together and still have separate bank accounts. That just seemed silly to me.
2. Boundaries. We separated money when one of us (him) was hell-bent on breaking one of the money rules we both agreed upon and swore to obey. If you’ve even broken in a horse, you know the routine. They buck, they fight, make a lot of noise but eventually, they settle down and obey. And that’s not to say that one of us trains and the other obeys; I’ve purposely destroyed a few receipts in my time. Nether one of us is allowed to enter Costco or Marshall’s without the other one. OBEY THE LAW.
3. Trust. Now, reading the Costco/Marshall’s rule, you’re gonna call BS on me but I am not perfect. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and this is what we do to keep each other strong, especially when we’re trying to lose weight and Costco has opened their scavenger hunt buffet in the store. What’s behind this corner? PIZZA ROLLS! What do we need 30 pounds of? PIZZA ROLLS!! We must be strong for our wallet and our waistline.
4. You do you and I’ll do me. I was fine with having separate money and doing my own thing. I don’t like to be told what to do, anyway. If I want to spend $100 at a thrift store and buy a trunk full of clothes, it’s NUN UH YA BIZNESS (homage to Salt N Pepa). When the other person sees you getting ahead, feeling financially secure and building up a nest egg, actions speak louder than words. Now I like to spend $100 at Marshall’s and come home with one bag of treasures.
5. Take what you can get and pick your battles. I feel that if you can agree on ONE THING when it comes to money, like saving 10% of every paycheck, having an allowance or mad money, allocating money towards a vacation or working together to pay off a bill or a car, Teamwork makes the dream work. Changing habits can be scary so take some baby steps, encourage each other and recognize progress!
6. The role of money in your life. My Psychology 101 Theory is that women see money as security and men see it as power. Why? Examine your individual relationship with money and ask your partner to do the same. Then, TALK ABOUT IT. Be respectful, attentive and compassionate. Lots of us have deep-rooted ideas about money based on the way we grew up. Put yourself in their shoes and try to see things from their perspective. That will explain a lot when they go and do the same thing with money that they said they weren’t going to do anymore.
7. Most importantly, you both MUST be honest with each other and with yourself. No hiding receipts, lying about dollar amounts or stashing secret purchases under the guest bed. If you’re going to be true to each other, go all the way, baby. Some use money and the power to purchase like a drug; it can make you happy when you’re sad. Until the bill comes in the mail and then it’s a sh*t storm of fights about being irresponsible again. Ask yourself and each other: What CAN we agree on, at least to try for 30 days? If it doesn’t work, scrap it, relax for a bit then try something different.
8. Ask for help. If you can’t resolve even one little thing and think this could be a deal-breaker, find a counselor that can see you together or individually. If you have insurance through your work, find out if they offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). It’s a service that’s included in your insurance for finding a therapist or psychologist in your area/network, usually 3-5 sessions for free. The ones I’ve used were anonymous, so your work won’t know you called and the EAP is a third party who is bound by confidentiality.