Help! What do you do when you’re a saver who is married to a spender??


Maybe you or some of your readers can help me out! My husband, while very supportive of my efforts to bring our expenses down, really doesn’t have a frugal bone in his body! Our main issue is eating out, and even if I plan ahead for such occasions with restaurant deals and coupons, when it comes right down to it, he’s rarely in the mood for whatever deal I’ve found. :-/

I’m tired of being the “Budget Nazi”! He wants to do this, in theory, but in the day to day stuff… Yikes! Help! -Amanda

Amanda, I have a good feeling you’re not alone! In fact, in most marriages, one spouse is the spender and the other spouse is the saver. Yes, opposites often attract! :)

In our marriage, I’m the saver and my husband is the spender. Needless to say, over the ten years we’ve been married, our completely different approaches to money have resulted in numerous disagreements and misunderstandings.

As we’ve worked through these, we’ve learned some lessons along the way. And while I don’t have a magic wand I can wave to fix your marriage, I do have some suggestions from things I’ve learned as a spender married to a saver.

Appreciate His Strengths

I used to get frustrated when Jesse would go out and spend money on what I deemed “frivolous” or “extravagant” things. And he would get frustrated by the fact that I didn’t seem to ever want to spend money at all unless it was a necessity.

It’s taken us years, but we’ve really come to appreciate the strengths that each other bring to the table. We now readily admit — and laugh about! — the fact that if we didn’t have the other to help balance us out, we’d be really lopsided.

So instead of getting frustrated that your husband likes to spend money, focus on the positive qualities he has and how his differences help bring balance to your relationship. If you start out with appreciation versus frustration, you’re well on your way to harmony in your marriage.

Discuss Your Differences

One of the greatest absences in many marriages is candid communication. A husband and wife should be able to freely share their thoughts, struggles, and hurts without fear of how their spouse will respond and without worrying what their spouse will think of them.

Marriage was designed for intimacy and this intimacy should permeate all areas: physical, emotional, and spiritual. We are to be one with each other. Nothing held back. Nothing hidden.

The more you can openly communicate about your differences and work toward understanding the other’s viewpoint, the stronger your marriage will become. Share your heart with your husband and tell him graciously and lovingly how you’re feeling about the budget and his lack of excitement with staying on track.

Then, truly hear his heart. Don’t pounce on him or try to nag and drag him along with your point of view. Listen and take to heart what he says. Ask him if he has any ideas or solutions. Conversations like this will help deepen your relationship and will allow you both to have a better understanding of each other and will go a long way in helping you to come to a mutual understanding and agreement.

A Special Word For Those Of You in Difficult Marriages

I know that some of you are already in difficult marriages right now and you would love to have this openness and oneness but your spouse has no desire for this. If that’s you, my heart breaks for you.

But as long as your spouse is alive, there is hope, so don’t lose heart! Love your spouse, give to them–even when they don’t deserve it, look for things to thank them for, and, if possible, seek marriage counseling. And focus on doing all you can to improve yourself and become the spouse for them that you would love to have yourself. Becoming a victim in a difficult relationship will never do anything good for you — or your spouse.

That said, if you are in an abusive relationship, please seek immediate help. Do not put yourself or your children in danger. Email me if you don’t know where to turn and I’ll do my best to put you in contact with someone who can help you.

Devise a Plan

Once you’ve taken time to focus on his strengths and talk openly with each other, it’s time to devise a plan of action. I can’t tell you exactly what this will be because no two couples are alike. What might work for us probably won’t work for you.

Only you both can figure out what works best for the two of you. However, the one rule you must follow when it comes to creating a plan is that it must be based upon mutual agreement and compromise.

If you are not drawing up the plan together and both agreeing together about it, your spouse is going to feel like they have no voice. And they are probably also going to feel miserable trying to stick with your plan.

3 Keys to Successful Spender/Saver Marriage Harmony

1. Stop Trying to Make Your Spouse Something They Aren’t

Spenders need to spend money. It’s not because they are necessarily extravagant; it’s because of how they are wired. We savers need to accept this and stop trying to squeeze the spenders into our little frugal box. (It sounds so basic, I know, but it’s hard for a saver to understand how it can be fun or exciting to spend money!).

At the same time, spenders also need to accept that savers want to have a plan for the money and that it can freak us out if they spend money without a plan. (Or maybe that’s just me?!)

2. Set Up a Cash Envelope System

The cash envelope system has worked beautifully for our marriage because once we both agree on the cash envelope amounts, I don’t have to worry that when Jesse spends money it’s putting us over-budget. On the flip side, the cash envelope system has relieved a lot of stress and potential frustration for Jesse since it provides him with money to spend. :)

We purposefully added some extra cushion into some of the budget categories that Jesse likes to spend more on so that it gives him more wiggle room. If you don’t have any extra wiggle room in your budget, then this might not be an option. But as soon as it is an option, do it. You’ll find that it results in a lot less tension in your marriage.

If your husband specifically likes to spend money on eating out, budget extra for the eating out envelope and discuss letting him be completely in charge of it each month. If he wants to spend it on a nice dinner out, that’s his choice. Don’t cringe over his choices. Accept them excitedly knowing that he’s in control of that envelope and it’s his to choose how it is spent.

3. Create a Blow Category

I highly recommend that you budget for a blow cash envelope for each of you. This is cash that can be spent on whatever you like… be it a treat, something for your hobby, or to put into savings for a larger ticket item.

For a spender, this greatly reduces the stress of sticking with a budget since they get splurge money allotted to them every month! For the saver, this greatly reduces their stress because they know that whatever their spouse is splurging on isn’t blowing the budget.

What advice and suggestions do you have for Amanda? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Elizabeth says

    Crystal, thanks so much for including that message for readers who may be in abusive marriages. It’s one thing to take your marriage vows seriously and work diligently to repair what is broken- it’s another thing to place yourself or your children in danger from an abusive spouse. I think it’s an important reminder for anyone who is in that situation- there is hope and there is help, even if you feel trapped right now.

    • Christina says

      That is all very helpful and very true. Question:My husband is the spender and trying to learn to be more balanced since he knows the tightness of our budget. He has a splurge amount each week and makes plans for big ticket items. I have always been supportive of his splurge money, and I voice my thanks to him regularly for his spending decisions and his saving decisions. Unfortunately, it seems like the more he tries to reign in the spending, the more impulsive he gets, resulting in spending over the splurge amount without discussing it with me until after the fact. Sometimes he’ll even spend the splurge money plus excess ON ME to try to make up for it, which usually then results in even more excess spent on his usual purchases. I know we need to communicate about this, but I also know that I could just magnify the problem by making him feel bad. Any ideas?

      • Kimber says

        That’s a tough one. Have you tried using the cash envelope system? That way once it’s gone, it’s gone. Do you think that would work for your family? It sounds like you’re approaching this with a loving attitude – good for you! That is so important!

      • Lea Stormhammer says

        Try asking him what he really feels when he has limit for spending. My husband always felt that a budget was a terrible set of rules that he HAD to follow without any choice or input no matter input and choice he actually had. He grew up with parents that did not manage their money and often had to do without things like shoes, a winter coat (they lived in the midwest), boots, etc. He was (and sometimes still is) terrified of not having what he needs. He rarely spends money but when he does – look out! He realized that his emotions were driving him but it was a loooonnnngggg process to get there.

        We did Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University last year and while we don’t agree with everything Dave says, it finally (after 14 1/2 years of marriage) gave us a common ground in developing a budget and finally showed him that regular people can manage their money well (he’d always thought it was only brilliant, magical or whatever people that did that).

        Lea

      • says

        Christina,
        I agree with Kimber and think it might be best to try the cash system.

        I would also encourage you to communicate with him and let him know how you feel – (maybe he thinks your love language is gifts). It may be a difficult conversation but it’ll be worth it. It’ll make you feel more like a team when you’re working together!

  2. Jen says

    Yes let me say that things can be *difficult* when you are the saver and the other is the spender! Communication is key, and you have to try your best to appreciate each other, or no one will be happy. My husband aggravates me so badly sometimes, if I let him. I often feel like I have to work so much harder at marriage than other couples, but I know I have to be willing to work or I will be miserable and there is no sense in that.
    The eating out is a huge issue with my situation too. Hubby likes the idea of saving money by not eating out, but when it comes down to it, he just neeeeds to eat out…. I don’t get it. I don’t even enjoy it because I think of how much food I could have purchased at the grocery for that amount.
    Anyway, what advice I have is to encourage what you see as a step in the right direction. As an example, tonight hubby asked if I could pick up ice cream and soda so he could have a coke float for dessert tonight. Granted, he had to have the ice cream that doesn’t go on sale and is 7.49 a gallon….but, I appreciated (and let him know so) that he was trying to buy from the store rather than go out to get ice cream from an ice cream shop, which he would have and would have easily spent $5 on one item. So we are saving a little money by going the homemade route which will last for several servings.

    • says

      I think your last paragraph is right on. It’s all about appreciation. I’ve learned to budget more on food because my husband likes a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream now and then as a special treat. We hardly eat out at all anymore, so I appreciate that he shops from the grocery store. Keep encouraging him, and don’t be too hard on him. Respect him and thank him. “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” :)

    • says

      Jen,
      My husband also likes to eat out (which is something my family rarely did growing up because we didn’t have the extra money). I had to learn early on in our marriage to budget more money in that category. He works hard to provide for us and eating out is one of the things he enjoys!

      When our eating out budget gets low I simply let him know that we need to cut back a bit, or eat somewhere cheap. It’s very freeing to be able to have open communication.

    • Meme says

      For my hubby the eating out is all about trying to give me a night off (I’m disabled and often don’t feel well but cook anyways so a night off is great) and “cook” for me. I’ve learned to buy frozen meals like lasagne or the chinese meals or even like the chicken meal deals from the deli at the grocery store for those nights off. Granted its not as cheap as homemade but it allows my hubby to quickly give me that night off. I’ve also learned that once in awhile splurging on that expensive steak or piece of fish is worth it as it keeps us from going out to a resturuant (sp) when we’re craving that stuff.

  3. Rebecca says

    I’m the saver and my husband is the spender also. We have a “blow” category we call our “toy budgets.” We each have our own “envelope” and the certain amount goes in each month. (I put envelope in quotes because the money goes into a joint money market account. We use excel to track every penny in that account…saving for vacation, our car insurance that’s due every 6 months, each of our toy budgets and a few other categories. The money is easily accessible, but doesn’t “burn a hole in our pockets.” It’s just a simple transfer out of that account to checking if we need/wish to use it.) It’s helped turn my husband into less of a spender because he knows his “toys” have to come from that category and he’ll save up to buy them. It keeps me from “freaking out” because if he “blows” his money on something I don’t think is necessary I know it’s not affecting the rest of our budget.

    Great post!!! Thanks for all you do.

  4. Sarah H says

    My husband is awesome at saving, but definitely feels there are times when it’s okay to spend more money than is “necessary”. He’s generous with gift-giving and realizes there are times when we have to spend more on items to get quality things that will last. As it relates to restaurants, he just doesn’t like the hassle of using coupons. He would rather spend a little bit more than bother with that. So, while he appreciates all the couponing I do at the grocery & drug stores, when we eat out (which isn’t really that often), we don’t use coupons. It’s actually freeing for me because I don’t have to worry about finding those deals – one less thing to keep track of! :)

    So, above all, communicate with your husband and come up with a compromise that will satisfy both of you. It may look different than someone else’s marriage, but no one else’s marriage includes the two of you! :)

  5. says

    http://www.thenester.com/2013/03/becoming-debt-free-6-odd-tips-that-helped-us.html

    I enjoyed the above post by “The Nester” about how they paid off $150,000 in 6 years to become debt-free. Her husband, like mine and yours, is the laid-back free spirit. I like how she says:

    “Paying off debt in agreement as a couple and taking longer is better than paying off debt by a bureaucratic tyrant (or Debt-Free Controlling Meanie) and doing it quickly.”

    Crystal suggestions above are great. I would add, “Give him time.” Treat each little success as a victory. I’ve been on the debt-free wagon for 3 years now, and it’s been fun to see my husband come around. He even recently asked me to buy the ingredients so that he could make diy laundry detergent from a recipe he found on-line! It may take years, but appreciate the little changes he is willing to make now. All those little changes will add up to big change in the future. :)

    • Liz S says

      @Jessica: I found your blog through MSM and I am SO happy you decided not only to keep it going, but to post even more frequently than before. I love the encouragement and positive attitude that you and Crystal both offer on your blogs. Thanks for the link you included…I love that article and all the comments.

  6. Kathy says

    Crystal, what wonderful and practical ideas! Actually my thought to Amanda is it really is a strength for a relationship to have a spender and a saver together, as long as they can work out a harmonious plan! My mother always said that she and Daddy balanced each other out. In their marriage, he was the saver and she was the spender. She said he brought financial security to them while she made sure they could do some fun things!They made sure all bills were paid and that money was regularly put in savings and then what was left, they divided for spending money for each. In my case, I found in my own marriage that things went much more smoothly when we did the budget together, sit down together twice monthly and do bills together, readjust the budget as necessary together. I recognized my husband needed money he could spend without him feeling deprived and me fussing/ sr
    /stressing over each expenditure. So, I always make sure he has his own spending money that he has to answer to no one about.and it doesn’t have to be a lot. Some months it may only be $25 but it gives him the freedom he needs and the peace of mind I need. We actually look forward to our bill paying/ budget sessions: we go out to a local restaurant for a breakfast biscuit and coffee and take our bill” folder” with us. And do you know what I have found? When I ask his opinion about a budget issue, he often has a workable solution that I never thought about! Our budget is a true team effort now instead of a tug of war! God Bless you and good luck as you work on this important area of your financial health andarriage.

  7. June L says

    “At the same time, spenders also need to accept that savers want to have a plan for the money and that it can freak us out if they spend money without a plan. (Or maybe that’s just me?!)”

    Maybe! In my marriage, I’m the spender and my husband is the (OCD) saver. I have tried to do a budget with the two of us, because I know it will help me. But my saver husband can’t be bothered. His plan is to save everything, so why do we need a budget?! He can get rather sanctimonious about his saving and why can’t I be just like him. It’s common sense he says. Our attitudes towards money are so vastly different. I’m comfortable taking a risk, have my own business, make my own money. He grew up in a family where money was tight, 6 kids, military family. We clashed more after we had kids. I worked less and we spent more of his money.

    He does tolerate my spending to some degree, though he doesn’t understand it. There were many restaurant meals out where I’d order dinner, and he’d sit there hungry because he didn’t want to spend money (or have me buy him dinner) because he had food at home. Just glad that wasn’t our first date! He forgoes Christmas and birthdays because it involves spending money. Insists on no presents for himself, rarely gives presents (which makes me sad). Nags me when I do give (small) presents to cousins I rarely see (except at Christmas!)

    I don’t understand his saving either, or more anti-spending. He had to break a perfectly good but out of date CD player in order to upgrade to a newer model. He couldn’t allow himself to buy a new one unless it was utterly broken. It was all or nothing.

    I think if spending – or saving – gets in the way of enjoying your life, you do need to make a change. Obviously, you can’t change each other’s behavior. As the spending half, I can safely say that no amount of nagging, guilt tripping or “advising” helps. Probably on the order of 0.000002% helpful.

    What does work is solving the problem together, equally, giving each other the room to be who you are. You can talk about things, change your own behavior, do your best to understand the situation you are in.

    • says

      Hi, June. I’m SO happy to hear from another wife who is the spender as well. In my marriage I am the spender and he is the saver. My husband may not be quite as extreme as yours at times, but he agrees that there is no need to have a budget or “blow money” because that money should just be saved. It is a really painful issue for me. I know that there are MANY ways to show love and thoughtfulness beyond buying presents or picking up someone a little treat, but that is one of the ways that I show someone I am thinking about them. I hate that my husband would rather me not spend money than pick out a nice present for him for Father’s Day or Christmas. I guess he just doesn’t realize how much time, thought, and searching go into finding the perfect gift. It hurts me and makes me feel like something that I enjoy and pride myself on is worthless. When he buys me a gift, he makes sure I know how much money he spent on it or how cheaply he got it. I hate feeling like I am getting “in trouble” from my husband after an I purchase something. I don’t feel like I am being unreasonable by wanting to occasionally spend $8 on lunch rather than $2.

      Anyway, thanks for “listening” and I am really appreciating the advice on I’m reading. I had an argument with my husband over money literally just a few minutes before seeing this article, so everything is still very fresh for me. :-)

      • says

        Kate,

        Have you read Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages? He describes five different ways that people show love to friends and family (gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch, I think)–it sounds like you and your hubby have two very different ways of showing love! You might consider picking up that book from the library and reading through to see if you can figure out his love language (and then helping him figure out yours, eventually!). It was eye-opening for me at a difficult time while my hubby and I were still dating, and I recommend it to people all the time now. Hope this helps! :)

        • Anne says

          Diana-I was just going to post the same thing. We read the book early on in our marriage. While my husband and I are more or less the same on the spender/saver continuum, my husband didn’t understand why I wanted and liked gifts until we read that book. My parents were great role models for frugality and saving, but gifts other than birthdays and Christmas were infrequent because they said they couldn’t afford it (which they could, but they were making different choices). I understand that my husband’s primary love language is words of affirmation because he didn’t get a lot of “way to go” compliments growing up. It’s helped us understand and love and appreciate each other even more.

          Chapman even addresses the spender/saver mentality in the book. Generally extreme savers are saving for their own emotional needs (in part).

    • Lea Stormhammer says

      I mentioned this in another reply, but have you asked your husband what he’s afraid of? My husband rarely spent money on anything – “this shirt is fine. why do I need a new one?” “well, dear, because that one has holes in it!” “it’s fine…” – because he was so afraid of not having anything at all. We did Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University last year and he finally sees that spending money on things we need and having a little fun is okay and won’t cause us to loose our house and live in our car (his big fear – though I don’t really get where this is coming from). He still rarely spends money but now he’s not against us spending money (does that make sense?).

      Hope you can figure this one out!
      Lea

    • Melissa says

      June, I have a husband who is very controlling over the money, too. I mean, he gets upset if I spend any money at all and I don’t consider myself a “spender”! I hardly ever go shopping – like only a few times a year. I have asked over and over again for him to sit down with me to make a budget, but he always finds an excuse not to.

      I get very frustrated about it and really don’t know what to do. I hate feeling controlled and I hate that he refuses to believe that’s a problem. I never see anyone talk about what to do in these types of marriages. I love my husband and he is very generous. I really lack for nothing. He provides well, is a good saver, and always makes sure the bills are paid.

      But he has OCPD {although he doesn’t believe he does} and is very controlling {in other ways, too} and will manipulate me to get his way. He doesn’t like me to go to stores without him and then he makes my life miserable when I am shopping for things we do need. It is always stressful. ‘

      Counseling is out of the question because I have begged for years. I’m a good wife, frugal, and I work hard at home. I like peace and hate confrontations, so I try hard not to argue or raise my voice even when I’m irritated, although I know I am not perfect. I keep praying for patience and a meek and quiet spirit.

      I would love suggestions beyond just “pray about it.” I know prayer is the first and most important but there comes a point after 13 years of marriage when things are just not changing and I need practical solutions.

      Sorry, I know I sound frustrated. I am.

      • Heather says

        How about going to counseling without him? Obviously, it’s better if both spouses go, but I believe that it is not uncommon for only one to do so. Perhaps it would help you better handle the situation and decide what you want to do.

        • Melissa says

          Hi Heather! I appreciate the suggestion. The problem is… counseling costs money. Which I don’t really have. I mean, my husband doesn’t like me to spend money and I am a sahm with no outside source of income. I could charge it to my credit card, but then I’d risk losing my credit card if my husband was upset by it. I don’t use it often, but do from time to time. And he always pays off our credit card bills each month so we never carry a balance. We have a limited income.

          I don’t know. It’s one of those situations where I just don’t know what to do. He’s a good man and loves the Lord, but he had a traumatic childhood, lots of abuse, dirt poor, often hungry, OCPD mother who married several really bad men… hence the control issues. I think some of it stems to his fears of being poor again or of our children being poor like he was growing up?

          He constantly gives me gifts or buys me things or foods that he believes will make me happy. He loves to do for others. He is very generous with our tithes and offerings. Generous to a fault. But he also believes {or acts like he believes} he’s the only one with enough sense or practicality to manage the money without us going broke.

          Anyway, thanks again Heather. I do appreciate the suggestion!

          • Lisa says

            Melissa, I wanted to tell you that not all counseling costs money. I am a student working on my master’s in counseling and right now I only have one client who is able to pay and I am seeing about 8 clients a week.. So, I suggest calling around and asking or ask your pastor or priest (if you have one) for referrals.

            Yes, we will often see one member of a couple.

      • says

        Melissa,
        I agree with Heather and Lisa that you should try to find a way to get counseling for yourself. It’s oh so life changing! And even though it doesn’t fix the tough situations, it helps you know how to handle them in a healthy way!

        If you’re in a church, sit down with a pastor and let him know what’s going on and he might be able to direct you to someone.

      • Katrina says

        Praying for you, stay strong and believe that your husband is god’s work in progress

    • Another Krystal says

      It sounds like your husband may have an issue beyond just being frugal – especially with what you’ve said about him needing to destroy a CD player before upgrading. This is very difficult. My husband has an anxiety disorder that sometimes manifests in ways like this, which is very frustrating.

      • June L says

        I’m so glad I posted that. Really glad to hear I’m not the only one frustrated by the spender/saver issue. Interesting how it manifests differently in different marriages. Your responses will help me look at this issue differently.

        @Another Krystal, I’m sure you are correct. He is a worrier, thank god he isn’t controlling. We wouldn’t have lasted the 19 years we’ve had together. One thing I’ve learned about him is that he is very resistant to change. It makes him uncomfortable. When I need to make a change, I just go ahead and do it. If I talk about it with him ahead of time, he will get anxious and resist. Not ideal, but that’s what I have found to work. Always his first response is NO. We waited 15 years to have kids. Mostly because of his worry and his anxiety about money. I wasn’t willing to wait any longer. He agreed because he didn’t want to lose me. Took him a while before he really came around. Now he can’t imagine life without kids. He loves our darlings so much.

        @Melissa – I hope you are able to find a good counselor to talk to. It can really help. My mom is a marriage therapist (how convenient!!) and she takes people on a sliding scale all the time. You can look online for a referral to a local therapist http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/

  8. says

    I love all the points you made in this post Crystal. My husband and I at first were not totally on the same page because I was always looking for the deals, cutting the coupons and trying to save the best way I could. Its funny now because he’ll ask me “Do you have a coupon for this” or “Where is the best place to buy that?” Having a cash envelope system has been a huge help for us as well. :) I’ve found that he really had a passion for saving and spending wisely more then I thought, we had different ways of expressing it. :)

  9. Barbara says

    Hi Amanda,
    I have lived in this situation for years (over 20). This year I finally found what worked for us :) and since then he’s been totally on board and even keeping me on track! – Save for something he really, really, really wants (could be a sports car, a game system etc.) He loves that I’m excited about his purchase (not doing my normal; “we really can’t afford that, it’s not in our budget” etc spiel.) I finally “get” it and he “gets” it. :) We are on a 5 year debt free plan and during this time we are saving for his very special, secret longing car. He never thought he’d ever get it but when I told him that yes, we could get it and afford it we just need to make adjustments financially he’s been so excited and onboard. He even came to me w/how he can cut down on his lunches!

    I dont’ know if this will work for anyone else but I can tell you after living in a spender/saver household for over 20 years it’s nice to be on the same page – :)

  10. A smith says

    Love the post and I feel your pain. My husband is the spender and I am the saver. It has taken me many years to get over myself. I am learning to appreciate how the Lord made him and appreciate who he is. When I look back on my situation my husband’s kindness and generosity is a quality that drew me to him. In my opinion if his eating is not causing big financial issues (like not paying bills you already owe) but you may not be saving as much as you like or getting out of debt as fast as you would like. Let it go. It is not worth the heartache and strife. One thing some men don’t appreciate is feeling like the wife is trying to control them. Respect him at all times. Keep lines of communication open about finances. If possible budget for the fact that he likes to eat out for you own peace of mind. We all value different things and if eating out is something he sees as value then go out to eat and enjoy your meal. Respect and appreciate who your husband is and if you keep communication open I suspect most husbands will want to do the same for you.

  11. Jessica says

    My DH and I dated for 4.5 years before we got married, so we were already very familiar with each other’s spending habits. We’re both frugal but not *cheap*. We both like a good deal. And we both consult each other. He does get a little tired of me getting so excited over my grocery bargains though :) (though he is pleased that I’m a wise steward with our grocery budget and that we eat well!)

    Since you can’t go back in time to be sure that your philosophies on money management are in sync, my advice is to COMMUNICATE. Don’t get mad at each other or hide things or lie about it. My parents have had issues with that and it was devastating for them. You’re in it for the long haul together, so make sure that the foundation of your marriage is strong and built upon trust. The leading cause of divorce is over money, after all.

  12. says

    I can offer a few thoughts from the spender’s point of view. In comparison to my husband, I’m the spender and he’s the saver. (I’m really not a big spender, just so you know… but my husband is so frugal that it makes me look like my spending is out of control.) We’ve had many a “discussion” over our contrasting points of view. Eating out is a particular point of disagreement for us too, so in case it helps you, here are my thoughts…

    1. I spend money for food in the cafeteria at work when I have to to survive, or when I have to for medical reasons (glucose/insulin issues). When my husband gets really critical of this, it makes me feel like he doesn’t feel that my life (ie. the sustenance it takes to keep me alive) is worth the $3 or even $8 I might have spent. His criticism tends to put me on the defensive, because I feel that he doesn’t understand, and that he values the few dollars I spent far more than he values ME.

    So… try to avoid being critical. It’s better to figure out a way that your spender can get motivated to save than it is to criticize him.

    2. Motivation is huge. My saver husband doesn’t need any kind of motivation or reward. But I do. So if I have a motivation: for instance, every dollar that I don’t spend out of our grocery budget gets credited towards a vacation I want to go on… or if I get to KEEP any extra grocery dollars for my “personal allowance” at the end of the pay period… I can get extremely motivated. Something similar might work for your husband.

    A word to the wise, though… the instant my saver husband starts criticizing my need for motivation and reward, again, I shut down. It kills my motivation and makes me feel like I can’t make him happy, so why try?

    So if you want him to stay motivated, don’t knock his need for reward and motivation, and let him keep his prize. :)

    3. Be sure you’re saving for the right reasons. My husband and I are saving (and not spending) a lot. We’re both contributing a lot toward retirement; we don’t have cable; we drive only one car (a 2000 model); paying off debt, etc. We rarely buy clothes, and buying things like books or shoes is so unusual, it’s shocking. Sometimes I feel like I’ve had enough of just saving for the sake of saving. I don’t want to live my entire life with no fun involved, so I can hope to have some fun at age 70.

    So check your motivation in saving. How much is enough? Are you saving just to save… depriving yourselves (or your husband) just for the sake of depriving? Or are you saving for a purpose, towards a goal?

    If you’re saving towards a goal (e.g. a vacation, paid-for house, etc), then find creative ways to keep that carrot in your husband’s view at all times. Make a graph and put it on your fridge. Get him a budget app for your phone. Talk about your vacation constantly and plan what you’re going to do there. Having a positive motivation, rather than a negative one, will really help your husband. :)

    Hope this helps. Sorry it’s long.

    • says

      Thank you SO much for sharing from the Spender’s perspective! I really appreciate it and found it very insightful!

    • Jenny says

      I just wanted to thank you for this perspective. As a saver with a “spender” husband (but not really, we’re both pretty frugal), this really helped for me to read.

      • says

        Thanks, Crystal and Jenny. LOL… the good, the bad, and the ugly all come out. :) I am trying to be a better wifey and get more on board with my DH’s plan, though. We just spent months going through different budget software and apps, and right now we’re trying the “You Need a Budget” app. It’s helping me already. So there’s hope, even for this spender. :)

  13. db says

    I’m a saver (raised in a saver family) and my husband is a spender (raised in a spender family). Overall he understands the need to stay within budget but he doesn’t keep track of anything and it goes on the credit card. That used to bother me immensely because I thot he should be more careful and the bottom line to me is that “we can’t afford anything” when we are always in debt. The bottom line to him is “I’ll make my payment and still buy what I want.” He’s a generous person and I have benefited many times, and we’ve paid off the debt many times, but it always comes back. I’ve worried for years about being in debt, but in the last 3 years (we’ve been married for 26) I finally stashed away enough cash that if anything happens I can pay off the credit card debt and deal with the emergency on hand. It has given me a peace of mind and when I see him juggling the debt issue I can view it as his problem…..not mine. For me, communication was not working because he would just go out and do what he wanted anyway. But having a backup plan has made it possible for me to enjoy spending with him.

  14. Matti says

    Crystal–

    I really loved this whole post. It was thoughtfully written, and really contained excellent advice that was honest as well as helpful. Fantastic job here! It was inspiring for me personally as someone who feels a little “out” of my marriage right now. We just had our third baby two months ago (ages 5, 3, and 2 months), and though I’ve never been happier in our FAMILY, I do miss the closeness in my marriage. :) As someone who has been through this season, do you have any words of wisdom?

    • Michelle says

      When our kids were babies, we started “home dates”. We usually do 2 each month. Feed the kids while we have a light snack to tide us over until our dinner later. One person puts the kids to bed while the other starts cooking dinner. (we like to experiment with new recipes) Then we put a few candles on the table and turn out all the other lights for a candlelight dinner. This serves a couple of purposes: #1 It’s a nice romantic atmosphere & different from “the norm”, #2 we’re less likely to look around the house and see “the stuff” that needs to be done, which is distracting.
      We also like to put on a little music in the background. Then we enjoy each others company and talk about all the things we haven’t gotten around to during our busy lives. :)

      • Matti says

        Thanks! I love this idea, just as soon as I can get the baby to bed on his own, we’ll be trying this :) Maybe, this summer? A woman can hope, right?

  15. Molly says

    My husband and i have switched roles. I used to be the big spender and he, the big saver. Over the last few years, the roles somehow switched, he is now the spender and i am the saver. Since i started couponing last year, he has somewhat changed. He loves to buy things with money that we should be using to pay the bills. Just last night i got after him, because during the week he spent money on the internet and i didn’t think it needed to be paid yet. But, we talked about it and worked it out. As far as going out to eat, he has totally changed his whole outlook on that part. Our girls are 9 and 5, and before we never paid for kids meals because of the places we went to, they would eat for free anyways. Once they hit the age where we had to pay for them, it completely blew his mind how much we had to pay for them. We talked it over, and we both came to an agreement, no more eating out unless we had a coupon or the restaurant offered free kids meals on certain days. And let me tell you, what a blessing that has been. Your husband may be the big spender, but communication is key, especially for us, since we are both Scorpios and butt heads. But once you start talking to each other and weigh the pros and cons of spending, he will eventually get the idea and start working with you to decrease his spending. On the other hand, you might just have to show him that coupons are really going to save you money. Sometimes, seeing you actually using them and seeing the results works wonders. This is what i did, sit down and tell him that you need to have a “money talk”, tell him that you are going to start using coupons to save money, go grocery shopping and use nothing but those coupons, once he starts to see the total going down, he will be amazed. Once I started doing this, his whole outlook changed. It may take a while for you to work this out with him, but patience is key. Good luck and i hope i helped you somewhat.

  16. says

    This is always a tough situation, especially if you are very conservative with your money and your partner is very liberal. While it may take a few discussions (and arguments) you need to find a balance and meet somewhere close to the middle. Start with establishing financial goals and then working on a plan together to achieve them.

  17. Stacey D. says

    This post is an example of why I love reading your blog, Crystal! Such great advice and you cover every single situation. It’s solid advice from a Godly perspective without preaching to anyone! I love you and your genuine heart to help others!

    I especially loved the paragraph “A Special Word for Those of you in Difficult Marriages.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened in church Bible studies while a husband described how his wife led him to Christ with her example or described how he doesn’t understand why she even put up with him at all. Your advice is right on the money! People can change! Don’t ever lose hope! Find the good things about your spouse and dwell on those until the change comes…and love them right through it! And yes, focus on improving you in the meantime.

    Reader for life! I mean it!

  18. Kiya says

    I am the saver and my husband is the spender but only with some things. The problem is that those things are sooooo expensive. I am not talking about going out to eat or buying cloths, he does not do those things very often. I am talking about cars and motorcycles. I had my grandpa sell my classic car so that we could buy him a motorcycle and have a nice down payment on a house. Instead my husband spent the whole amount on a brand new motorcycle. It is like a rubber band effect, he will be great for a few years and then just go blow it all at once. After the incident, we agreed that he could have some blow money every month but we had to stop because we need to save for our down payment. When we are done saving for the house (the end of this month) we will be able to go back to giving him blow money. What makes me sad is that he get board with the big thing that he bought so quickly. Then he regrets buying it. It would be easier if it truly brought him joy but it doesn’t. Any advice?

    • Anonymous says

      He could sell the motorcycle. He may not get back what he paid for it, but at least you’d have something for your down payment, and you could continue to add to it until you have the amount you desire. May I also suggest that when you do manage to save up the amount you want for a down payment again, that you make sure YOU are in charge of controlling that money.

    • says

      Kiya,
      I’m sorry you’re facing this difficult situation.

      Your husband is definitely a spender and you need to allow for that in your budget. We savers don’t get it, but not giving a spender any money only makes things worse. From what you said, it doesn’t sound like the two of you are on the same page financially. Do you have a budget that you have both agreed on?

      If you haven’t already I would encourage you to sit down with your husband and respectfully talk to him about his impulse buys and let him know how much his actions are hurting you. As Crystal said, communication is key!

  19. Bethany says

    Here’s something that I’ve learned, being in a similar situation. Learn what areas are important to him to save money and which are not. In your case, you gave the example of eating out and finding deals and such. I’ve been in a similar bind, and here’s what I’ve found: quit looking for deals. Let him decide where he wants to go and how much he wants to spend, and enjoy it. Do you want to know what has happened with us a lot… he’ll look at me in disbelief and say “you don’t have any coupons or deals?” I then SWEETLY (that’s very important, as you’re not reprimanding him) say, “oh, well, last time I got a deal together and you wanted to go somewhere else, so this time I decided to let you decide.” What this does, is gives him the space to take over this area if he desires OR (as is often the case with us) helps him to appreciate how much we save when I do find those coupons and then gives us an open door to discuss it and come to an agreement. It’s all about keeping the peace really, and finding ways to submit to your husband as your leader. It’s not always easy, but over time (as Crystal was saying) you find a sweet medium where everyone feels happy.

    HTH,
    Bethany

    • db says

      I like the way you reply to your husband…kind, caring, but honest. This has happened to us many times and I’ve finally learned that I just need to let him decide because “right or wrong” he still wants to decide….and PEACE is very important for the family.

  20. L says

    This is such an interesting topic! I would consider my husband and I both “savers” but we definitely give each other “room”. We don’t really consider what we do as having a strict budget. We have more of what we call a “goal”. Several years ago we decided we really needed a plan and needed to know how much we will need when we retire. So with that we came up with a savings plan to reach that goal. Hopefully we will be OK in our older years.

    My husband very rarely questions what I spend money on. (Again, we are pretty cautious with our spending.) He knows I am fairly frugal and most of what gets spent is a necessity. And since he doesn’t question my spending, I have to bite my tongue when he buys something for hunting or fishing :)

    I think as others have mentioned above, whether you are a saver or a spender, I think compromise is the key, and allowing each person to have control of some of their own money. I guess I would feel really “trapped” if someone was watching me so closely with my spending. Every once in awhile, it is fun to have some money to spend as you wish :)

  21. yasmin says

    I’m loving this post and the thoughtful comments! I am not married, but I like getting advice for the future. Thanks!! :)

  22. Mama Murrey says

    We’ve had plenty of conflict over money in 6 1/2 years of marriage but thankfully have made a lot of progress. We’ve done lots of communication and outward things–getting out of debt, using a budget, using a Freedom Fund, setting goals, me learning to control my spending, him learning to quit saving just to save, as well as him learning to love giving.

    But now God is going after our hearts in this area. My husband and I are reading “Wealth, Riches, and Money” by Craig Hill and Earl Pitts. He is the saver; I’m the spender. But this book is bringing us together on our attitudes, giving us a very different look at what the Bible says about money. I am excited that God is leading us to new levels of allowing Him to truly be in charge of our finances. I’m gaining an amazing picture of what He could do with our finances. I highly recommend this book.

  23. Sarah says

    Thanks Crystal for mentioning abusive relationships.

    Abuse related to the control of money or resources is very common. Some of the commenters have mentioned feeling worthless regarding the control of money in their marriage – which is wrong.

    In the last few years I’ve run across three stay at home moms who communicated to me that their spouse was controling the resources in their home to a degree that I considered abusive. They didn’t communicate that they thought it was abusive. Maybe they were just complaining or blaming their budget on their husband (which is unhealthy), but it concerned me. Items of concern: cannot drive vehicle without permission because of the cost of gas, cannot buy certain food stuffs that they liked – even on sale or with coupon – because their husband deemed it a waste of money, husband required exclusive use of the vehicle for office job even though we have good public transit, husband refused to permit visits to wife’s family because of the cost of travel using biblical reference.

    Economic abuse is a subset of emotional abuse. Symptoms include:

    Rigidly controlling your finances.
    Withholding money or credit cards.
    Making you account for every penny you spend.
    Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter).
    Restricting you to an allowance.
    Preventing you from working or choosing your own career.
    Sabotaging your job (making you miss work, calling constantly)
    Stealing from you or taking your money. (source Helpguide.org)

    The thing is after talking with these women I considered that I’m the saver in our family and I needed to reevaluate how I was controlling the resources. Fortunately, my husband and I can talk about anything. I asked his opinion and he said was feeling happy with how we were managing our money and would let me know if he had any concerns.

    Marriage is a balance and communication is key. For us savers, be careful about how to treat your spouse. For those feeling restricted by their spouse. Please communicate how you are feeling and if needed get help.

    • Heather says

      Amen. Adults should be treated as adults. Controlling your spouse is so wrong on so many levels.

  24. says

    Both my husband and I have a set allowance each week out of his paycheck. It’s very small, but it’s something we can both call our own and not have to report to the other when we want to buy something with it.

    There’s also a few work-at-home things that I get paid for, and my husband gets a percentage if he helps me out. He really likes that!

  25. jerilyn says

    The biggest thing that has helped me is letting my husband deal with the mess that his financial decisions make. He is the leader of our home and while he asks for my opinions and greatly appreciates my budgetary skills, he makes the decisions. So if he makes a costly mistake or decides to spend x amount of money, he needs to make sure that we can pay for it. If we can’t he has to figure out how to make the money to pay for it. I don’t need to be going behind him trying to find stuff to sell on craigslist in order to balance our account. This is easier said than done. We’ve had so many disagreements over our 8 years of marriage and I’ve tried turning him into a saver. It’s not going to happen. But realizing that I need to be faithful where I can be faithful and let him take the lead on everything has really helped. It hasn’t changed our money situation but it has changed my heart and we don’t argue like we used to about money. Ruining my marriage is not worth it.

  26. says

    What worked for us when we had it (we no longer do), I would make sure my husband had $10 cash each week to spend on whatever. I didn’t ask, and when it was out, it was out. He really likes to buy coffee at the gas station or at Dunkin Donuts in the summer he likes an iced coffee. But it was nickel and diming us to death basically. So that is when we started the $10/week thing.

    We can’t afford even that anymore so now, on weeks we have more money, sometimes I’ll surprise him with a $10 or a $20 for him to buy coffee or lunch or whatever. I don’t find I really need much of a blow account. I use my SB Amazon gift cards often for things I want. :)

    What we do still do is we save some money out each week for whatever it is wants. Heaven forbid he gets the $60 weed wacker to last a couple years. He wants the Stihl one where you can change out the attachments and will last years and years and can be fixed, etc. It does make sense we just don’t have $300. So for him to have the “big” item, we save each week for what he wants. That helps his need to spend and my need to save up for whatever.

    It works really well…..until we have 2 or 3 things that need saving for. lol.

  27. says

    I am more of a spender than my husband but we both tend to have more of a spend than save mentality, which we are both trying to mature out of.
    We’ve had lots of money arguments during our 13 years of marriage and we’re finally learning that the more we communicate about money, the fewer arguments we have. I think that’s a lot of the issue for many people, not being on the same page with where the family finances are.
    I’ve only been following Crystal’s blog for about a year but I think this was one of her most well-written and graceful posts. Thanks!

  28. Sara says

    This post could not have come at a better time. My husband and I are at our wits end over money. Our issue is we (mosty he, but not pointing any fingers) has spent and spent on major purchases over the years to where we now are so in debt that while we both have good jobs, every cent of out paychecks goes to paying bills (motorcycle, 4 wheeler, pool, boat, etc.). I am literally trying any way I can to find/make/save money. The issue is he says the right things (not going out to eat, spending any unnecessary money, etc) when we talk about it, but does not usually act upon those statements. Any advice? I am beginning to feel really hopeless with the situation. I feel like I am in this place because I let him talk me into purchases or didn’t say no and I am the only one trying to get us out. Thanks for your help.

    • says

      Sara,

      Do you work your budget together? Maybe if he sees what’s coming in versus what’s going out he’ll realize that you don’t have any wiggle room with your finances right now.

      I would encourage you to consider selling the motorcycle, 4 wheeler, boat, etc. You may break even on the purchase but that’s one less payment you’ll have, thus getting you closer to being out of debt. Plus, this is a great time of year to sell those items.

  29. Liz S says

    My husband and I have never fought about money. He’s the saver (with an occasional splurge), and I’m the spender. I take care of all the finances, and he not only lets me spend whatever I want (we are not in debt, we tithe 10% and we are saving for retirement and college funds for our kids), but he also spoils me with stuff he’s bought for me. So in the end, it’s ME that I’m mad at for not being more of a saver. I know, not a bad problem to have. But anyway, I got so used to my husband NOT spending money, that when he decided to go on a 3-month long spending spree, I was freaking out. :P One of his biggest splurges was on Itunes (he buys book to read on his ipod). I hated how there was lots of little charges, almost every day. First I got upset (even though I had no right to), but then I realized it WAS going to happen, so I needed to change my attitude. So, I started buying him Itunes gift cards, and then we didn’t get random, unbudgeted charges anymore. :P

    • Liz S says

      I forgot to mention, but my husband and I like a good healthy competition from time-to-time. So here’s something we do to make saving money fun: We grocery shop once a week, on the same day. I usually like to go, but if I’m not in the mood to leave the house, my husband will go for me. So whenever he goes, he tries to see how much he can come in under budget. Usually he does better than me. But we make a game of it, and that helps making saving money fun. :P

  30. Elizabeth says

    One area that made it difficult for us when we first got married was that we just didn’t have money to eat out. It was so hard not to just stop and getting something in the drive thru when running late to work without dinner. But we learned about mystery shopping from Crystal after a year of marriage and now we get our “fill” of eating out at no cost, in fact we make money! My husband loves burgers and fast food, while I like salads and eating at home so to keep him content and not blow our budget he does about one fast food mystery shop a week. It’s been a great way to save for us.

    • jodi says

      Can so relate! Just tonight, I suggested we order the Pizza Hut $5.55 pizza. My husband told me that PH is his least favorite kind of pizza. So, instead of demanding we must have it (I’m the saver), I decided to listen to his suggestions. He found another place with a comparable deal (a couple dollars more but in the ballpark) and I said, “Sounds great!” I’m learning to work in a little a wiggle room instead of trying to squeeze him into my frugal box. He is definitely wired to be a spender but we are learning a lot from each other!

  31. Laura says

    My husband was the same way until I went to Target one day and did shopping with my coupons. When I came home and showed him my receipt of $50, and I saved $55. He hasn’t complained as much, he is more supportive. He originally belived that coupons of $.50 would amount to nothing. Sometimes showing an example can help.

  32. Meg says

    One thing that helped me was taking the time to understand how my husband had grown up. I was spoiled as a kid, but ironically, my husband, who had to do without a lot of extras, is the spender. He spent so long not being able to have things or do things (His parents didn’t have the money for him to do sports or activities, for example), he now feels that he should get to spend money on things he enjoys, especially given how hard he works.

    Once I really understood why he felt the way he did, it helped me have a more forgiving spirit and understand that he wasn’t just trying to sabotage the budget!

    The other thing that has helped us is really working as a team on the budget. It’s a lot harder to overspend if you know Exactly how much is in the checking account! On the other hand, if you’ve got your head in the sand, it’s pretty easy to put it out of my mind and pull out the plastic!

    Thanks for such a wise and warm post, Crystal.

  33. says

    Excellent tips for working things out with the spender spouse. If both sides are cooperative and willing to bend a little, communication will go a long way.

    I think you also have to remember that “it’s just money”. There’s great wisdom in financial peace, but there’s greater wisdom in relationship peace.

    If money is truly the only issue, then lay down the guns, do your best to talk about it, and then let it go. How much is money really worth? Is it worth the tension and strife in your marriage?

    But then again, perhaps money is not really the root issue. If there’s other issues eating at you and your husband, money disagreements will simply be fuel to the fire. If this is the case, lay aside your concern about money and focus on the real issue. As you do, you will find yourselves better equipped to come to a place of middle ground in the finances.

  34. Jessica says

    What a great article! I’m the saver, my husband is the spender in our marriage. It brought a lot of conflict in the beginning of our relationship as I tried to explain to him what I found to be simple concepts like paying off the credit card each month so that you’re not paying interest, etc. Through prayer, I came to realize that I was trying to be financially controlling in our marriage. I won’t lie, it’s sometimes still hard (7 years later) to accept what I would deem “frivolous” spending but my heart and attitude has changed a lot since we first met.

    I thought I’d share two major things I’ve learned:

    One: If he’s earning the money, he deserves to spend it. I’m a stay-at-home mom now, but when we were first married we both worked and handled our finances jointly. I wanted us to be debt free and I meticulously pored over every detail of our spending and budget and berated my husband for “wasting” so much of the money; I argued that it was “our” money and it wasn’t ok for him to be spending it on superfluous things. In one of our “discussions” it dawned on me that it wasn’t fair of me to be “hoarding” his paycheck as well as my own. He works hard, so he deserves to spend his hard-earned money as he’d like. (I’m thankful though that we’ve always been able to talk about our finances and even though he’s a spender he is very responsible about making sure payments are made on time.)

    Two: He has challenged me to spend my money selfishly. Beyond the fact that my husband is very generous and lavish in giving gifts to me, he has reminded me that I can spend on me too. I’m very frugal, why do I need another pair of sandals (even if they’re way cute) if I already own a few pairs? But at his insistence, I bought those sandals and I have never regretted the purchase. I remember Crystal shared one day about her experience grocery shopping as she went back and forth deliberating whether she should buy some flowers that I believe she said cost $4. Eventually she realized how silly it was to be debating such a nominal amount especially since she had the money budgeted to spend on them. Having my husband be a spender has benefitted me by teaching me how to indulge myself without feeling guilty.

    Communication has helped us to learn more about the other person’s beliefs, wants and needs when it comes to finances. And as time progresses, I’m realizing that even though it can be infuriating that we have such different views, it really balances us out quite beautifully so that we can enjoy things today as well as tomorrow.

    Jessica

  35. Erin says

    Love the part about accepting them as they are. My husband also likes to spend money on good food. Maybe it’s a guy thing, but he loves to eat out sometimes on the weekends. As the saver, this annoyed me until I realized it was a bit controlling on my part to dictate what he could enjoy spending money on -especially since he is the one who works so hard to provide for us. Work together to create a balanced budget and don’t forget to include some fun for both of you! As you’re making this budget, remember trying to make each other happy is what makes for a happy marriage… and a happy marriage is well worth spending some money on, even if it seems a bit frivolous to you. Personally, I have come to appreciate my hubs inner foodie and now I really enjoy the occasional dinner out with him :)

  36. Angie says

    I would like to think I’m a saver, but in reality I’m naturally a spender who has been reformed. My spending weak areas are time related. Anything that will save me time is worth the money as far as I’m concerned. Sure making dinner is cheaper than eating out, but once a week, I need the free time. Reducing learning curve is also huge for me. If a book or course will cut down my learning curve, and the free alternatives involve waiting too long, I will pay for some books and courses.

    And my husband wants to save too, but he is also naturally a spender. He doesn’t understand why I like spending 4x as much for iced coffee from the drive-through rather than make my own, but he will see a deal on an air soft session and jump on it. He still likes to spend on hobbies. That’s his weak area.

    My marriage would probably benefit from designated “frivolous” spending budgets for each of us.

    And maybe what is frivolous to one person really is valuable to the next. So many businesses wouldn’t exist if their products/services were viewed as frivolous by everyone, which means a world full of only practical people equals fewer earning opportunities for many.

  37. says

    Amanda, this is exactly what we help couples learn to deal with at Spend Successfully! I was the spender, my husband was the saver. I was ruining our marriage and we figured out a system that works without using a cash system and without sacrificing our current lifestyle! I encourage you to come over and check us out. I hope we can help you! I can’t believe how our life has changed with the system we created to help couples stop the fight of finances! Good luck! :) -Natalie