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Home>Daily Capital>Family Life>Dear Tori: How Do I Handle My Finances When My Partner Has Different Money Habits?

Dear Tori: How Do I Handle My Finances When My Partner Has Different Money Habits?

Discussing money with your partner is often challenging. Everybody develops their own money mindset during their childhood. Sometimes we aren’t necessarily financially compatible with the people we fall in love with, but that doesn’t mean we can’t become financially compatible through conversation, compromise, and helpful tools.

If you and your partner have vastly different money habits, then you will relate to our reader. The good news is I have a solution that will ensure you and your partner come to an understanding about how to handle money in your relationship.

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Dear Tori,

My partner and I recently moved in together and I’m realizing quickly that we handle money differently. He’s a big spender while I’m a saver. I tell him that I think he handles money recklessly, but he thinks I’m overcautious.

I want to discuss this with him to resolve our disconnect but I am unsure how because I don’t want to insult him. Maybe it’s not my business how he handles his money since he pays all of his bills. I just wish he prioritized savings goals more especially if we’re going to get married and plan our retirement.

What should I do?

Before I give you my advice, let me make sure you know this: Your concerns are 100 percent valid. It seems like you and your partner have different money personalities, and that’s okay! Since it’s causing you stress then you two need to find common ground and communicate so it doesn’t negatively affect your relationship.

Set Aside Time to Talk

There’s an elephant in the room and it’s your vastly different money habits. You expressed that you prioritize saving more than spending, while your partner prioritizes spending. People are different and as long as you and your partner are being responsible, there’s nothing inherently wrong with him spending more money. Create a “money date” with your partner. Put it on the calendar, make dinner or maybe pop a bottle of wine, and have an open discussion about your finances.

Make a Game Plan

There are certain money goals that need to be prioritized. I think that once you find common ground, his spending might not bother you as much because you’ll know he’s still planning for the future.

Here’s what you both need to prioritize:

  • Create a budget. Sit down together and make sure you know where your money is going. It will make sure no one is overspending and give you peace of mind knowing that all your bills are getting paid.
  • Build an emergency savings. Put aside three to six months’ worth of expenses in a high-yield savings account. That way if an emergency happens, you will be able to pay for it and it won’t cause tension in your relationship.
  • Utilize 401k employer matching if available. If one (or both) of you has a 401k offered through your job, take advantage of it! Contribute as much as you can toward the retirement fund.
  • Contribute to a Traditional or Roth IRA. Individual retirement accounts are also a great way to save. Try to also set aside money to invest in tax-advantaged accounts.
  • Invest your money in brokerage accounts. Once you have an emergency and retirement savings, begin investing in a brokerage account. If you want to grow wealth (and who doesn’t, right?) you have to invest. Open up an account and plan to automate investing at regular intervals.

Discuss Debt

If you’re planning on building a life together then you need to know how much each person is in debt. Do you have student loans? Does he have credit card debt? Make sure you understand how you’re going to pay off the debt. First, start with high-interest consumer debt. Then, choose the right debt-payoff method for your mindset.

Read More: What is Debt Management?

Accept Differences

Now, I’m going to say something a bit controversial: How your partner decides to use the rest of his money is his business. You can’t fault someone for spending when they’re also saving responsibly. Maybe your partner would rather put five percent of his earnings toward taking an annual vacation instead of investing a little more. If that aligns with his values then you need to accept that even if it makes you uncomfortable.

I’d also recommend looking at your own money habits. Do you have fear surrounding spending? Are you living in a scarcity mindset where you believe there is a limited amount of money? If so, it’s important to unpack that and work to heal your mindset.

Try to respect each other’s differing views surrounding spending. If or when you decide to combine your money, then make sure you agree on how to spend and save. A lot of couples find the “yours, mine, and ours” model works for them. In that model, you each have separate bank accounts in addition to your joint account. Create a financial plan that works for you two. And remember, you can always tweak it if necessary!

You can use online financial tools to get a better handle on your money. My favorite tool is Personal Capital. I check it daily for tracking my net worth and my progress towards goals like retirement, debt payoff, and (yes!) saving that first $100k.

Get Started with Personal Capital’s Free Financial Tools

Personal Capital compensates Tori Dunlap of Her First $100k (“Author”) for providing the content contained in this article. Compensation not to exceed $500. Author is not a client of Personal Capital Advisors Corporation. Additionally, in a separate referral arrangement between Author and Personal Capital Corporation (“PCC”), Author is paid $70 and $150 for each person who uses Author’s webpage (www.HerFirst100k.com) to register with Personal Capital and links at least $100,000 in investable assets to Personal Capital’s Free Financial Dashboard. As a result of these arrangements, Author may financially benefit from referring potential clients to Personal Capital and/or be incentivized to present blog content that is favorable to PCC. No fees or other amounts will be charged to investors by Author or Personal Capital as a result of the Referral Arrangement. Investors that are referred to PCC and subsequently subscribe for investment advisory services provided by PCC’s affiliated adviser, Personal Capital Advisors Corporation (“PCAC”) will not pay increased management fees or other similar compensation to Author, PCC or PCAC as a result of this arrangement. The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.
Tori Dunlap is a millennial money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. A Plutus award winner, her work has been featured on Good Morning America, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, and more. An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.
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Building my emergency fund
Paying off high-interest debt
Budgeting better
Saving for a short-term goal, like a vacation or new car
Increasing my investment contributions
Maintaining status quo - I’ve got this under control

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