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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