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What To Do When a Spender and Saver Marry

spender and saver

Guest post from Emily

When a spender and a saver marry, each spouse may have their own idea on what’s an appropriate amount to put towards a budget, how quickly to pay off debt, how to allocate money once debt is paid off, among other areas.

My husband and I, both bankers, have a common goal of paying off our debt — which we are in the process of doing. I’ve come up with a few ways to keep us motivated on our way to being debt-free. Hopefully one or more of these suggestions will help you, too!

1. Allocate a Budget

Each month, my husband and I get $100 for “fun” money. This is just the amount that works for us. I don’t feel guilty going to lunch occasionally with friends, and he’s free to save his amount to buy a fun item for his jeep.

2. Reward Progress

If you are significantly behind on payments, this is not for you. However,  for us, we add to our monthly fun budget, at least temporarily, each time we pay off a debt. In general we add the amount we were paying on prior debt to current debt in order to pay it off faster.

However, if, for example, we had a monthly payment of $200 that we have paid off in full, we might use $150 for other debt pay off and allocate an additional $25 each as a reward and motivation.

Both the saver and spender win!

3. Set Purchase Goals

Again, the saver and spender both win with this. We have a separate bank account for our purchase goals. I love saving for them, and my husband is proud when we’re able to purchase something with cash — like our new washer and dryer set. Neither one of us feels like we’re missing out.

As with anything, balance is key. Ultimately, it’s likely both spouses’ goals are the same, as is the case with my husband and myself.

When neither spouse feels like the other spouse’s ideas are being pushed on them, a collective effort can occur. We are so much better together.

Do you have any other tips for accommodating both a saver and a spender?

Emily Glass is the wife to Garrett and mother to Katherine, age 2, and Grant, age 6 months. She is in banking and loves to cook.

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  • My issue is what to do when a spender (him) and a saver (me) are no longer together but raising a child. That has actually been a big issue for me and something I’ve been writing about, so I love this topic!

  • guest says:

    I second the “fun” money. It is a huge help and mitigates many arguments.

    A few others:
    – Avoid nagging. It really doesn’t help the situation at all. Focus on where you have common ground (short, mid and long-term goals).
    – Work on your messaging. If your spouse wants to do something that you don’t have the money to pay for or will prevent you from saving, explain what the trade off is. “Yes, we have the money to buy X for your Jeep but that means that we won’t be able to go on a family vacation in June.”
    – When setting goals and “fun” money allocations, don’t dictate. Lay out the numbers and let the spender see what is reasonable so s/he has a say in the amount and the goals.
    – Assess your friends. If your spouse is wanting to buy more/do more, is s/he trying to keep up with your friends? Make it a point to socialize with other couples who are like minded about finances.

    • Emily says:

      Wonderful ideas!! My husband told me what he felt was reasonable for the fun budget, given our current finances. You are so right about this!

    • Emily says:

      Thank you for your comment, and those are wonderful ideas! I especially agree with not dictating the amount of “fun” money. My husband decided what was appropriate for him given our budget. 🙂

  • Denise says:

    My problem is what to do when there isn’t enough “fun” money in the budget to suit the spender but the budget is already at bare bones!

    • Emily says:

      Prayers! If you have debt, I would focus on that first. Also, for me, I like doing things instead of spending money, such as playing cribbage or piano. If there are low-cost activities in your area, it can feel ‘frivolous’ to the spender while keeping the saver happy, too. 🙂

  • Kathryn says:

    I know this is not a popular opinion but my husband and I have separate accounts. I’m free to save my money, he’s free to spend his, we aren’t at each other necks. It works for us. We use mint to see all the accounts so we know what’s going on and we split the bills.

  • Jessica says:

    My situation is my husband and I are not joint in any of our accounts plus we have split up some of the bills because he is self-employeed and he gets paid when he works…. so that being said I pretty much get the brumpt of the most of the bills. Sometimes I find myself struggling because something came up last minute and when I share it with him, he can’t help… How do you deal with this type of situation?

    • Erika says:

      A joint account for household bills. Set it up through your direct deposit, or do an automatic transfer, so its paid into without you or him having to think about it.

    • Emily says:

      I love Erika’s idea of a joint household account. That being said, does he have a general amount he earns each month? If not, could you average, either based on the time of year (if that effects his income) or for the past several months to see what he earns? I would strongly recommend listing everything out that you *must* pay every month and showing that plus your income to your husband. It may be he’s spending more because he thinks the money is there or that he doesn’t realize how much he’s spending.

  • EricaC says:

    My husband is a saver and I am a spender. However, he saves because he is naturally frugal and has nothing he wants to buy. When we were first married, I was motivated by savings goals and now each month we review our spending and saving together. We keep a detailed spreadsheet that tracks all money coming in and going out (and reconcile our financial accounts). We then allocate our overage into our specific savings accounts for each goal (emergency account, house repairs/updates, travel & gifts, etc). For me, I enjoy “spending” the overage into each account and we’ve seen our savings grow, slowly but surely!

  • lyss says:

    They are both bankers, and have common goals…sounds like they are on the same page. How is this helpful to a saver who is married to a spender?

  • Kim T says:

    I’m the saver and he is the spender. We aren’t married yet. This is some good advice. We are planning for the wedding, but it seems much of the buying for wedding is on my shoulders because I’m the one that is good with my money. And I’m on a fixed income. To be fair he does have a child from a previous relationship. But, then again his child has become dependent on his father spending money on stuff that doesn’t need spent on. Our budget is due for a MAJOR overhaul!

    • Emily says:

      Best wishes on your upcoming wedding! I’m big on “special” accounts. We created one when we were getting married. My parents and his both wanted to contribute a bit, but the vast majority was paid for by us. We went ahead and created an account (aside: can be risky, as either person can take the money from the account if joint), but it really helped us. We both knew how much we had to spend for the wedding instead of either one thinking the other person could pick up the tab.

  • Amy says:

    These are great ways to help keep both “types” happy and motivated. Great ideas!

  • Karen says:

    It is so important to set goals and stick to them. My DH is recently retired, and we set the goals that we would not have any consumer loans when he retired. This means no mortgage payments and no car loans. Those goals have been met, and it is much easier to live on our current income.

  • Lynn says:

    I am preparing for a major life change and need to save a lot of money. It’s hard to do when he’s a spender and I’m a saver. I’ve talked to him about a budget but he doesn’t seem to take me serious. Even at the store he always wants to grab extra items and I feel like his parent telling him no. Any thoughts on this? Time is valuable here.

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