My husband, Mark, and I don’t battle over finances. That’s not to say we don’t have our battles; in fact, the other day we had a doozy about the proper positioning of the car's air vents to achieve maximum cooling velocity. I won’t go into the gory details, but since he's an engineer, we’ll go ahead and chalk one up for him in the “win” column (although I still maintain that the air was cooler my way).
So yes, we’ve played the Bickersons a time or two. But over finances? Not so much. So, how do we keep the financial peace?
Here are my top three ways to create financial bliss with the love of your life.
Yours, mine, and ours
We have separate bank accounts—yours, mine, ours. No more hiding of purchases in the back of the closet, only to dread the arrival of the bank statement. What’s spent out of a personal account is just that: personal.
A friend’s husband has a habit of dropping by the animal shelter every few years and “rescuing” a living, breathing, long-term expense without so much as a text to let her know. On the other hand, she once spent $3,000 on new living room furniture at a “half-off” sale she couldn’t pass up. His notification was the for-sale sign on the front lawn attached to the “old” (they’d had it for two years) furniture. Needless to say, they fight about money. A lot.
We have a deal in our house—no surprises, ever. If a purchase has an impact on both of us, especially if it comes from the joint account, there has to be a discussion.
When we moved to Denver, the backyard of our new house was just one large clay pit. I was also driving an '88 Corolla that we had planned to replace after the move. We really wanted a professionally-landscaped yard, but both the car and yard just couldn’t happen at once. So we discussed it, and the yard won. We were able to replace the car a few years later, and meanwhile, the backyard has become our beautiful oasis. We could have rolled the backyard into the mortgage, but that would have meant more debt, which leads me to #3…
Just say "no" to debt
When Mark and I met almost 25 years ago, he had his financial house in order. My financial house was pretty much crumbling around me. I had several credit cards, all of which were maxed out. To help me out of my debt issues, my very sweet guy would covertly plant money around my apartment—in the book I was reading, taped to my Diet Coke in the fridge, and once, even inside my medicine cabinet.
Rather than take this very helpful gesture for granted, I thanked him the best way I could—with a full-on financial remodel. It took a few years to pay off the debt, but once I had paid it off, I never looked back. I use one credit card now. I take full advantage of the points I earn, but I pay off the balance (with my personal account) every single month. No exceptions. We also try to avoid other debt whenever possible. Our cars are paid off, and we pay extra on our mortgage whenever we can.
Financial peace truly happens when a couple gets on the same page. Some couples may feel that they aren’t even in the same book, but with a little compromise, some joint sacrifice, a good dose of humor, mutual respect, and a lot of love, even the most battle-weary can find a way to lay down their swords.
Mark may get annoyed when I leave my socks on the floor (yes, I’m the slob in the relationship), but we both know that when it comes to spending and saving money, there is absolute trust—which to us, is true financial bliss.
This post was written by Kendra Friesen, a Field Education Representative at Colorado PERA. Do you want to contribute a guest post to The Dime? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.