Bridging the gap between saving and spending
In any marriage, even one where both partners have similar money management styles, family finances can occasionally create conflict. But when one spouse is a saver and the other is a spender, financial disagreements can be frequent, emotional, and divisive. For these couples, achieving financial harmony—where both personalities contribute to a balanced approach to the family finances—requires compromise and communication.
One key to achieving compromise is learning to appreciate and respect the differences that attracted you to your spouse in the first place—rather than trying to change them. Although you might feel your spouse’s behavior is disrespectful to your feelings, how your partner spends or saves their money is probably not a reflection on you or the relationship. Ongoing communication about money is crucial if you’re to avoid misunderstandings about your motivations.
The three-account method
A solution that works for many couples is to have three accounts: one for yourself, one for your spouse, and a joint account.
You and your spouse both put a percentage of your salaries into the joint account each pay period. Use that account to pay household expenses, including mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance, and car and home repairs.
Calculating a shared account
To start your joint account, the first step is to figure out the percentage that each spouse contributes:
- Add you and your spouse’s monthly incomes to find your combined total.
- Divide your individual monthly income by the combined total. This number is your individual contribution percentage.
- Repeat with your spouse’s income to calculate their percentage.
Once each spouse knows what percentage of their paychecks to contribute, it’s time to add those to the joint account:
- Add up your total shared monthly expenses.
- Multiply that amount by each spouse’s individual contribution percentage.
- This is the amount that each spouse should put into the joint account from their paychecks.
If there’s money left over, split it into your personal “no-questions-asked” accounts. It’s from these accounts that you can pursue individual wishlist goals. For a spender, that might mean paying for a family dream vacation. For a saver, it could mean beefing up an IRA (individual retirement account).
Effective communication and collaboration is key
Make sure to have frequent discussions about your finances and remain open-minded; try not to insist that your partner do things your way. Set goals together and make a few of your own. Make agreements—they add weight to your intentions and keep you on track. And, if you reach an impasse, consider working with a professional who can help you move forward.
Contact White River Credit Union for all your financial needs
At WRCU, we offer easy appointments with one of our financial experts. Visit our website to make an appointment or or call or text our team at (360) 825-4833 to learn more. Plus, if you’re needing more in-depth financial counseling, our partners at BALANCE can help.