I have been obsessively listening to podcasts lately, and Screw the Nine to Five has been a good one I recently found. For the record, this is not a child safe podcast, and if you can’t handle the occassional F-Bomb it’s not for you either. However, a tidbit from a particular episode today really caught my attention. It was in regards to spending habits of you and your spouse, and how you have to work together to overcome your individual conditioning on spending.
Think about that phrase for a moment: Individual Conditioning. How were you raised to handle finances? How was your spouse raised to handle finances? How do each of those circumstances effect how you handle money together? Do those conditions cause arguments between the two of you? Most important, can you change them?
For some couples it’s difficult to balance different spending styles. My husband is the spender. I am the person who budgets and constantly thinks about how to make our life financially better. I actually bet my husband one time that he couldn’t keep a $5.00 bill in his wallet and on him without spending a penny of it for 30 days. He won the bet, but he kinda cheated too because he left the money at home for over a week before I found out and called him out on it. He did keep it for the remaining 3 weeks, so he “earned” a $20.00 bonus.
My family was lower middle class growing up. We had some money for a few extras here and there, but as I have said before, my Mom was very frugal. I wore lots of hand-me-downs for the neighbors older teenage daughters. Which was fine, except it was kinda stinky wearing bell bottom jeans in the 80’s when everyone else was tight rolling their jeans. Have you ever tried to tightroll bell bottoms?! We took a few vacations over the years, mostly to visit family, and eating out was absolutely a treat for us. Most of our financial education was learned at school. Our parents made us put half of our allowance (when we had them) in our piggy banks, and didn’t allow us to spend it until we had a certain amount of money in there.
My husband grew up fairly poor. His childhood was spent learning to live off of the land and finding any kind of work to make money. He remembers going into the woods to cut down his own Christmas tree, and lots of hunting wild game, not for sport, but because if they didn’t they had little or nothing to eat. As he grew up, and moved out on his own, his financial planning and sense was pretty simple: You paid your bills, and if you had anything left over you could spend it. He also didn’t have to worry about medical care or emergencies of that type because Scotland has a free healthcare system. He didn’t have a vehicle because they used public transportation. Regardless of those bonuses to the budget, he still didn’t save any money for emergencies.
To say adjusting to our marital finances was difficult at first, is a bit of an understatement. I would budget us down to literally $.75 in the checking account sometimes. I would tell him “don’t spend ANY money”. A few days later I would look at the bank account and discover a $35.00 bounced check fee over a candy bar from a vending machine that took debit cards. When it happened twice, we had a huge blow out. Now he knows when I say “don’t spend ANYTHING” I mean it and there’s a reason.
However, I have also had to learn that our budget requires date night money and some “fun” money. He is miserable if we come home day after day and never do anything. He NEEDS to feel like his 40 hour work week brings him something more than paying down medical debt. We budget that date night, and if there is money left over, I let him have it. He also does some extras at work that gives him another $150.00 a month. He uses half to pay for our Kung Fu classes, and I let him have the rest. Not that it’s not important to pay down debt, but it’s also important to take a moment to live.
We’ve pretty much worked through our individual conditioning challenges. We’re still growing together financially, but I truly think we all must grow more financially and regularly.
Have you noticed a challenges over money in your marriage due to the way you were raised? Tell me your story!by