Newlywed Finances: Different Worlds

by Michaela Davila

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My husband, Rick, and I knew we would be married shortly after we began dating. While much of our courtship was picture perfect, we did have one recurrent issue: our spending habits. We were the classic combination of the frugal saver and the fun loving spendthrift. I was the saver. While I loved the fact that he spoiled me with dinners and jewelry while we were dating, I knew I would not love the credit card bills that would become "ours" on the other side of marriage. Foreseeing future issues, we signed up for a ten-week class, called Crown Financial, at our local church.

The class was great and really helped us draw closer to like mindedness as we entered into our new roles as husband and wife, as well as our roles as co-owners of a joint bank account. I have to admit that I was slightly nervous about how we would apply all the theories we learned to the reality that we were now living in. We went round for round at first as we both wanted the ultimate say on how the money we were given at our wedding should be spent. The more we discussed (argued) our points, the less we understood one another's view. After a few weeks, we decided to use a tactic taught to us in our financial class: communicating.

I was generally surprised at the difference communicating calmly made when I tried to explain my viewpoint instead of getting defensive about his. After some lengthy conversations (and a few more arguments), we came to some agreements on spending. I knew I needed to "let go" and not try to control all of his spending and he realized the need to show restraint when it came to non-essentials. When we sat down to plan out our budget, we decided to give each other a cash allowance that would not have to be accounted for. My husband loved the freedom of spending money on whatever he wanted without having to always run it by me, and I loved that I knew there would be a limit to it.

In time, tolerance turned into appreciation for one another's spending habits. Although my husband cannot understand why on earth I experience buyer's remorse after purchasing a DVD, he loves when I come home and inform him of a great deal that I find. He was delighted when I was able to get an incredibly cheap rate at a five-star resort by bidding on it at a silent auction. He even developed the habit of asking me if I knew of any deals before "surprising" me with lavish weekends away.

Rick still splurges now and again on things that I would consider wasteful at best, but I try really hard to let it go. I try to shower him with appreciation when the expensive gifts come my way, and I do my best to hold my tongue when he doubles or triples his cash allowance. I find the more we communicate and the less I nag, the more effort he puts into trying to save money himself. We even started having contests to see whose receipt indicated the greatest amount of grocery store savings. To my shock, he has actually won several times and now asks for coupons before heading to the store. He is, however, quick to inform me that such great savings will allow us to buy that big screen television sooner than we thought.

I know that the way we each prefer to spend money really has not changed, but discussing our differences, hearing one another out, and putting a plan in place has made all the difference in the world.

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