How to Accept Your Partner’s Different Financial Habits

Danielle Kubes
by Danielle Kubes June 27, 2019 / No Comments

My normal routine when going to see a movie is to first try and find it for free on the internet.

But if I can’t, or it’s a special occasion, like the last installment of Twilight when it came out, I’ll head to the theatre on half-priced Tuesdays. I ask for tap water and stop at Bulk Barn before to pick up snacks.

My fiancé, on the other hand, buys VIP tickets and orders popcorn and a soda. From the concession stand.

While this may seem like a harmless indulgence to many readers, the thought of paying more when I could pay less causes me physical pain.

I didn’t think much about our different attitudes about money when we first started dating. I was simply enjoying myself on all the outings he took me on — trips to Niagara Falls, dinners out in downtown Toronto and yes, Saturday nights at the movies, reclining in our cushy, giant seats as waiters brought food to us.

But then, he proposed.

All of a sudden, I started freaking out.

What did it mean that we didn’t share the same financial values?

I like money where I can see it — in the bank, with the balance ticking higher. I love the challenge of finding ways to cut costs far more than I like the challenge of working harder to earn more.

Meanwhile, he hustles 10 hours a day and values convenience and ease in his free time.

But how he chooses to spend money would now affect our financial future together. Every dollar he spent calling me an Uber home instead of letting me take public transit meant one less dollar for our future child’s RESP. The high-end scotch he bought tasted delicious, but how would we ever be able to save up a down payment for a house in Toronto?

I started to nag. I automatically assumed that I was the responsible one and that my way was right.

What I didn’t understand is that how I chose to treat money would also affect our life together — I was setting the groundwork for a miserable husband because he’d be walking 10 blocks to avoid spending $5 on parking. Five dollars of his own money that he was happy to exchange for the luxury of being closer to the restaurant.

I was also ignoring that my own financial behaviour is far from perfect. The truth is, I do spend money. Lots of it. I thought it was okay because I think out every purchase so thoroughly. I’ll spend $600 on a good pair of leather shoes, but I’ll hunt down every promo code, ask for a discount and wait 6 months for them to go on sale.

But why was I so sure that my spending habits were the best way instead of merely a different way?

While I thought I was helping him become “better” with money, what I was really doing was trying to impose my own values on him. What I should have been doing was trust him as a man who will always work hard to provide for us. I started — and I’m still in the process — of letting go.

I decided to start seeing our different values as strengths rather than weaknesses.

The truth is, I don’t want a husband who never buys me flowers because he thinks it’s dumb to spend money on something that dies within a week. Or from whom I have to hide my $50 Sephora foundation purchases. Instead of bemoaning the fact I’ll never live a FIRE lifestyle, I’m celebrating the fact that I will have a chivalrous and generous husband.

We decided to meet with a financial advisor to help us set up a budget for our new life that we could both live with — one that allowed us to simultaneously take lavish vacations and build an emergency fund.

Our plan is to share a bank account for joint expenses, like rent and groceries, and contribute a fixed amount per month for savings. Anything else we keep in our own accounts and can spend as we please.

Although it was pricey, around $400, I consider it a true investment in our future. We now have a roadmap in place that will hopefully help us keep us on the same page.

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