How Do I Make My Partner Sell His Truck and Save Money?


AAPW: I'm trying to save but he likes to make it rain

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

Man and woman sitting by water

Q:I am hoping for some help in a marriage-as-mini-socialism predicament. My fiancé and I recently bought a house, which sort of tipped the scales for us from keeping separate bank accounts and splitting the bills down the middle to sharing an account. It was getting really annoying to try to split everything “fairly.” So we are doing the all-in-one-pot-thing, with equal allowances in our individual accounts.

We make enough to cover the bills, but I am concerned about our savings rate. Instead of being able to stash anything away, we pretty much just break even every month. The exception is my own allowance fund, which has been building up.

My fiancé has this brand new truck, which has irked me for a while. I have a thirteen-year-old car, which works fine for me. It’s not that I want a new car. I just want to get on a stable foundation with our money, and the bill for just his truck and the insurance is just SO HIGH. (It might be reasonable, actually, I have just never financed a car because it really is such a huge expense that I don’t see the value in.) He also has a terrible chewing tobacco habit, which costs $7 every day, likes to go to sit-down restaurants for lunch, and just generally doesn’t seem to be working toward long-term financial goals. I have discussed this with him, and he seems to agree that saving more is something we should do, but not about any actions that would help us get there.

Short story: I want him to trade in his truck, find another way of reducing (what I see as) frivolous spending, OR… I kinda want to go back to splitting the bills evenly. If we did that, I could at least save a greater part of my own income, and he might feel a bit more strain, which could lead to a curb in his spending. So… what would APW do?

—ENGAGED IN A COLD WAR

A:

DEAR EIACW,

Keeping your money separate and splitting the bills evenly seems to just avoid the problem, rather than fixing it, doesn’t it? And you basically end up in the same place—the bills are covered, you have a pile of cash, and he has a bunch of tobacco and a new truck, but no cushion. You’re not solving anything. Say a medical emergency comes up, or you want to go on vacation, you’re still the one with the loot, jumping in to cover his butt.

You guys aren’t on the same page about something pretty major (where you’re headed financially) and it’s important to force yourselves onto that same page. Money decisions reveal and determine so much else about your life. Current priorities, future goals, and longterm plans are all wrapped up in how you choose to spend your cash. If you can’t agree about the spending, chances are you don’t agree on the bigger picture, which can be a pretty big problem. Don’t just avoid it. Fix it.

At least, mostly. You may not fix it completely. You guys need to have some serious conversations (probably a lot of them, if I’m being real) and try to determine together what you financially prioritize as a couple. But, that will mean some compromise on your part. Selling the truck or quitting the tobacco habit might seem plain responsible to you (and sure, there’s an element where working toward savings is just a part of adulthood), but if he’s a spender and you’re a saver, you’re both going to need to concede a bit. There has to be room for having different interests and priorities as individuals, even when you’re aligned on the big picture, joint stuff.

Practically? That might mean showing him on paper what “putting more toward savings” (a goal he agrees with!) actually looks like in daily choices, cold hard numbers, truck payments or whatever else. It might mean setting some actual specific goals for that savings rather than just some amorphous pile of money.

And if you still can’t come to an agreement about his truck, it seems like that’s one “bill” that’s more of a personal spending allowance sort of expense. Joint finances don’t mean that you need to agree on absolutely every expenditure. But it does mean you jointly pick the big goals, jointly set a plan to achieve them together, and then give one another some wiggle room to be individuals.

Luckily this whole money issue isn’t unique to you. It’s uh, something a few of us have worked on (and argued about and thrown exasperated hands into the air over). So it might help to read not one but two posts by Meg about how joint finances work in their house. Or this by Maddie on ways they worked around the arguments. Or just, you know what, take a tour of the whole archive of money posts, because it’s never a bad idea to see that other folks struggle with the same stuff.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

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  • Amy March

    In a way, I think you’re focusing on the wrong things here. His truck and tobacco habit and restaurant meals are all really easy things to point out (and I don’t disagree with you on them!) but they’re just symptoms of a larger problem.

    It sounds like you have the expenses you consider legitimate, and then his spending, and whatever gets left over you save. What if instead you drew up a rough budget of fixed expenses every month, agreed on a savings goal, and moved those savings out of your main account right away? Would he be willing to try that? Do his restaurant meals and tobacco come out of his personal spending?

    To me it sounds like this is a worse deal for you financially. If splitting bills evenly leaves you more money to save, then it sounds like now you are subsidizing his expensive choices.

    Personally, if he weren’t willing to have serious discussions and make serious changes, I’d be taking my money back. Youre not married, so I’d be going back to splitting expenses evenly while we talk about what finances mean going forward and see if we can get on the page. I don’t see it as avoiding the problem but as protecting yourself financially while you work things out. Right now what you are doing is the legal quivalent of just giving money away every month. I have no qualms about sharing with a partner, but I do about sharing with a partner who doesn’t share my values and is comfortable spending my money on things we can’t afford.

    • raccooncity

      As the spender in my relationship I second the idea of taking savings out upfront. I actually don’t spend more than we have, but I will spend ALL of it. When bills are taken out upfront, I don’t notice the difference so making ‘savings’ into another bill works for me.

      • Violet

        I’m a saver, and I can’t save unless I know what it’s for. I had an emergency savings goal, and once I hit it, I just… stopped saving. My partner and I discussed and chose our next savings goal, and I picked right back up with saving again. If I don’t know what the money’s FOR, of course an extra cup of coffee or another sweater will always win out over the abstract and nebulous “savings.” Now I don’t think of it as NOT buying that sweater, but as getting even CLOSER to vacation/house/what-have-you.

        • Dynia

          Yes, it’s amazing how it focuses your attention. We had a bit of financial bad news which makes more cash in savings necessary (damn immigration rules) and it has helped focus us beyond a nebulous emergency fund / down payment.

        • Lisa

          I have pack rat tendencies that carry over into my saving habits, but I agree it’s a lot easier to resist temptation when I think, “I could buy this cute sweater now, or I could save that money for our trip to France.” When I give myself an either/or, it makes it much easier to put the sweater back on the shelf because it reminds me where my priorities lie.

          • Violet

            Yes, making the choice between two tangibles gives the savings category a fairer shot of winning out!

        • Ashlah

          Totally! I have multiple savings categories in YNAB both because a nebulous “savings” category wouldn’t be very motivating AND I would have a hard time spending from it! But when I’m saving for a trip to Costa Rica, I’m not going to feel bad for using those savings to go to Costa Rica. I even started a short-term savings category (for things like a tattoo, a new laptop, camera accessories) because otherwise I’m not very good at spending big chunks of money on myself.

          • Lisa

            We’ve decided to start purposefully overbudgeting in the “Phone” category each month so that when husband needs a new phone in two years, the money will already be there.

            And I totally know what you mean about not spending chunks of change on yourself. I hate spending money so my category is tends to have a decent amount of money sitting in it. I felt much better about spending it once I decided that there was a reason for which I was saving (spending money for a trip to see my best friend!).

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      • NotMarried!

        I agree with this. I’m a big fan of the zero-sum budget – ever $ has a job be that a savings goal or monthly spending. It’s just another bill for me and it works.

      • Sara

        This is also how I save personally. Each paycheck auto deposits a set amount into savings. I am not to be trusted with an open amount, I like to buy things! (Though my new years resolution is to curb my frivolous spending). But I’ve found it so much easier to just treat it as another bill to pay.

        • Eenie

          This is why ynab works so well for me. When the category is empty I either don’t spend or move money around.

      • Liz

        This is how we work our savings for tax time (ugh, tax time is the enemy of the freelancer). If it “doesn’t exist” in the options, and is taken away first, it doesn’t factor into our decisions (and, cough, possible arguments).

        • Lisa

          Another thing I love about YNAB is it encouraged us to plan for these yearly expenses that we know are coming and have the money to cover in savings (if we draw from our emergency fund) but could easily plan for throughout the year. We’re now including car insurance and Christmas gifts into our monthly budget instead of scrambling to find the money elsewhere when a bill comes due.

          • Violet

            Me too! Just had to lay out some money for professional development things. Normally that would be an “Oh man, I have to pull back on something to account for this!” moment. Now, I know it’s coming and set some aside every month in YNAB. I won’t even feel this. So cool. Before YNAB, I just saved and hoped it was enough. Now I save and KNOW it’s enough. Feels so much better.

          • Cha

            We just started using YNAB this month (after tracking spending, but not doing anything about it, on Mint for years). “Before YNAB, I just saved and hoped it was enough. Now I save and KNOW it’s enough” <– this is exactly what I'm hoping will happen for us.

          • Violet

            Tracking spending is a good first step. Especially since because of it, you’ll know roughly what you spend in your categories in a year, making it easier to break down into monthly installments in YNAB. I just wish I hadn’t spent years on only that first step. YNAB is proactive rather than reactive, and it was crucial in terms of progress towards my goals, rather than just avoiding problems.

          • Alanna Cartier

            This is exactly what happened for me, too. I haven’t got to the point of not living paycheck to paycheck, but I am at the point where I feel super confident that all my bills will always be paid on time. Even last month, when I was leaving town for the holidays before I got my last paycheck, YNAB was the reason I KNEW I had room in my budget to pay my rent before I left.

        • Estimated tax payments are the worst! Taxes hurt a lot less when they are just taken out of your paycheck rather than having to write a check 4 times a year for a giant sum of money (even though I have that money saved up and budgeted for, which I really have to, since I get paid 4x a year so budgeting is important to make my grad student stipend last 3 months).

          • Liz

            I know. I’d rather just not seeeee those large numbers as they saunter out the door.

      • NatalieN

        This is how we do it too, and on top of that, we decided to open a Barclays dream account, which gives you a really good interest rate (for savings, which is really just over 1%), that gives you a bonus if you go 6 months without making a withdrawl, and another if you make deposits every month for 6 months. We set that one up as our “emergency savings – don’t actually touch this unless it’s an emergency”, and the bonus’ give us incentive to keep it that way.

        • Lisa

          Oooo, now you’ve got me interested in looking into this.

        • CP2011

          Can you share more about what a Barclays dream account is? I’ve never heard of it.

      • Kayla

        Exactly. It seems like instead of each having $X as a personal allowance, which she saves and he doesn’t, they could each have $X-100 (actual amount may vary) as a personal allowance, and a mandatory $200 put into joint savings. Then, if his truck/habits are too expensive to support on his remaining allowance, that’s on him to figure out.

        Of course, if he doesn’t really agree that saving is an important goal, he probably won’t go for this. And that’s a different (and important) conversation.

      • Kayla

        Exactly. It seems like instead of each having $X as a personal allowance, which she saves and he doesn’t, they could each have $X-100 (actual amount may vary) as a personal allowance, and a mandatory $200 put into joint savings. Then, if his truck/habits are too expensive to maintain on his remaining allowance, that’s on him to figure out.

        Of course, if he doesn’t really agree that saving is an important goal, he probably won’t go for this. And that’s a different (and important) conversation.

      • Kate Broad

        This is my life to a tee.

    • Violet

      I agree with your last paragraph, that it’s not avoidance if it’s taking your money back AND working on getting on the same page. It’s only avoidance if she takes her money back and then makes no other changes in the relationship dynamic.

  • anon

    I think putting everything in numbers (spreadsheets are good for this) would help. Simulate the real cash flow in your current scenario, what it would look like if he saved x$, what if he saved y$, etc. It would probably help to throw in a savings vehicle so you can demonstrate that saving money can *make* you money. It’s really tough to conceptualize an unlikely emergency but knowing that your money can grow for you without you really doing anything is a pretty good motivator to save.
    And to be entirely honest, I just flat out told my fiancé one day “No, **we** do not have an emergency fund. **I** have an emergency fund.” (And then we fully discussed why I wanted him to save up some before we merged savings, etc. because clearly I would never let him suffer a financial emergency, ugh, BUT really being that upfront about it forced us to have the conversation!)

  • NotMarried!

    THIS blog post from YNAB on the reluctant spouse is on point and explains better than i possible can:

    http://www.youneedabudget.com/blog/post/ynab-podcast-episode-87-a-tactic-for-the-reluctant-spouse

  • Lisa

    As the saver in our relationship, I get where you’re coming from. I really do. I think the little things (like the restaurants and tobacco) and the big thing (the truck) are easy to point to as the problems, when really it has more to do with aligning your goals. What if you agreed on a reasonable percentage of your salaries to save each month and transferred that money to a separate savings account so it’s more difficult to reach? It sounds like the savings goals need to be addressed upfront instead of being “whatever we didn’t spend this month.”

    The truck at this point isn’t going to go away so I would probably learn to accept that. Sure, he could trade it back in for a reduced value and maybe get an older car/cheaper payment, but he can’t go back and get a car he already had paid off. Maybe instead of getting rid of it, you could devise a payment strategy to get it paid off more quickly? That way you don’t have the interest looming over your head.

    For us, YNAB (You Need A Budget) was really helpful in structuring how and where our money gets spent. We set up categories in there for our own individual spending, and we cannot comment on for what the other person uses his or her money. Husband was able to get on-board with entering transactions because it made me so happy, and now we’re able to go back and look at the data and see where money is truly being spent. Having an agreed upon amount we each get to spend has made it easier for me to accept when he wants to go out for lunch with his friends or when he makes a big purchase that I consider frivolous. I can save up all of the money I want then to pursue solo activities and not be angry when I see his spending account dip low — that’s his prerogative.

    I would entreat you to try and find a solution to this before you get married though. We merged all of our finances when we got married after a year of living-together-equal-bill-payment with minimal discussion about what our spending habits look like, and it was really difficult to align our goals. I wished we’d had that discussion before we’d merged finances and gotten married, and it’s not too late for you two!

    • AP

      One of the best things we did when we started YNAB a few months ago was put an automatic amount into his and hers spending allowances every month. My husband spends his allowance down pretty much every month, but I am more of a saver and have a few hundred dollars stacked up in my spending “account.” His typically goes to his hobbies (mainly work out gear and gadgets) and Starbucks, while I usually save mine up for when I go out with friends or just random shopping trips. Sometimes when we sit down to reconcile the budget, he notices my spending allowance number is higher than his. I’ve been seeing a big shift in how he thinks about money now that he’s seeing the numbers every month. This has been the biggest surprise about pooling our money (which I was super reluctant to do, btw, because baggage.) Even though our money is combined, now that we have a budget we can see plainly how our spending habits impact the bottom line. We still don’t always agree on how to spend it (for example, just last night we disagreed about whether to move money around in the budget to cover buying a bed, or wait until the next paycheck.) But having the concrete numbers in front of us really takes the drama and emotion out of the arguments.

      • NotMarried!

        Win for taking the drama and emotion out of the arguments!

      • Lisa

        Yes! Numbers don’t lie and have no emotions. I, too, love the logic approach. I’m trying to get better about readjusting the numbers in the categories as we go through the month because we’ve been leaving the red arrows for reconciling until the end to fix later. Husband isn’t so sure about this (“Why don’t we just fix it later?”), but I’m hoping this will continue to encourage us to spend less and save more.

        • Eenie

          The new ynab apparently makes this really easy. You click the overspend and then a popup for other categories comes up with balances and it auto calculates to move the money for you.

        • Sarah E

          I had to readjust my thinking on the red overspent categories, too. I ended up spending some time going through all of our past months’ budgets to reconcile everything appropriately, because I just couldn’t trust what YNAB told me I had “left over” to budget with. Not really what you’re supposed to do, but now I’m much better at adjusting categories and reconciling monthly, keeping an eye on our income so that I know when we really truly do have extra cash in the bank.

      • Eenie

        I’ve been shocked at how willing my fiance was about using ynab. He tries to take everything out of his personal spending though! He isn’t great at budgeting, he has just been fortunate enough to always just have a lot of money so some gets saved. He wanted to buy a video game but he wasn’t sure if he had entered everything in. I asked him what he thought he might be missing, and he listed off all these household expenses. I told him to buy the game. But it’s already affecting his thought process when he makes purchases which is awesome!

    • Mary Jo TC

      We do something similar with our individual spending, where we’re not allowed to comment on each other’s spending. However, we use budget software that we can both see, and that I spend more time maintaining than he does (we used to use inzolo, now we recently switched to YNAB). I do indeed stress less about his spending and the amount of money in his individual ‘account’ or envelope. But the one exception is gifts. When we give gifts to each other, the money comes from our individual accounts. I always have a ton of money in mine, so when he talked about going back to school for programming this year and needing a fancy new laptop, I offered to make that his Christmas present. So I was spending over $1k on his Christmas present, and he felt pressured to match that, but I knew he didn’t have that much money in his account. He ended up overspending his account to get me/us a piece of new furniture for our new house. I had to explain to him that I don’t want him to overspend to get me a present, because that means we end up having to pay for that present out of joint money, and I’m buying (at least part of) my own present. And that the thing about a big expensive present that makes it feel like a loving gesture is the fact of knowing that the other person saved and sacrificed for a while to get that thing for you, and that’s not happening if he just overspends his account and makes up the difference with joint/my money. Sorry for the slightly off-topic story.

      • Eenie

        So true. Though.

      • Lisa

        I completely understand. We do gifts to each other the same way, too (out of our spending money vs. the gifts category).

        Our most recent thing was that husband is getting back into fly fishing this year (thanks in part to my Christmas gift) and decided he needed a new rod and spool. He found a good deal on it but didn’t have the funds to cover it himself out of his spending money category. I kept saying “No, the family budget can’t/won’t cover that” until he came to me with a payment plan idea where we would dock his spending money for the next three months to make up for the extra burden the family shouldered to get the deal price. It was interesting to watch him re-shift his thinking on this topic and begin to see that money he wanted to spend on himself would be taking away from us. I told him that was the kind of thinking that I needed to see to agree to expenditures like that – an acknowledgement that what he spends affects us both and a plan to do right by our mutual long-term goals.

        • Mary Jo TC

          I really like how you worked that out. I wonder if sometimes it’s not so much about one person being a ‘saver’ and the other a ‘spender’ as that one person is a ‘planner’ and the other is a ‘live-in-the-moment’ person.

          • Lisa

            So true. Saver and spender directly correlate to planner and spontaneous in our personalities as well. What I’m hoping my husband learns is how to save money up so he can be spontaneous! (Because I like that about him! And I like to, say, go on spontaneous camping trips, too! We just need to have the funds there to be flexible with it.)

          • another lady

            yes – ‘spontaneous’ vacations are the best! We actually had a saving amount allocated to ‘vacations’ that we would use when deciding to go on ‘spontaneous’ trips. It was great because we could get hotels or splurge on fancy dinners and know that it was paid for and in the ‘vacations’ budget! My husband was on board with that part of savings as soon as we had the first trip that we didn’t have to put on our credit cards and stress about because we had the money saved and allocated!

          • Ashlah

            I love having travel savings! Right now we’re savings towards a specific big trip, but the long-term idea is that we’ll be able to take spontaneous weekends away without stressing about the cost.

          • NatalieN

            Yes and yes to being a saver to be spontaneous! A while ago when my husband and I were engaged, he was gone for the weekend, but planned out an entire day of pampering and fun for me (absurdly sweet) and left me his card so that he was treating me to those things even though he wasn’t there (he went so far as to tell me to go to a restaurant and had one of my best friends show up, then he ‘treated’ us both to dinner).

            I posted about it on fb and an acquaintance commented “I hope my future boyfriend is not money conscious so he’d do the same thing!”… it was like errr… actually he’s very money conscious and saves so he *can* do something like this.

          • Ashlah

            Oh my god, the thought of a *not* money conscious partner doing that for me would just be stressful! Saving and budgeting is very attractive.

          • Eenie

            My fiance says one of his favorite qualities of mine is my financial savvy and potential/desire to earn money.

          • Lisa

            Yes! One of the things I like to do with my spending money is take my husband out on “dates” for drinks or dinner. I read about a couple in Warren’s book All Your Worth, where, as soon as they had carved out spending money for themselves, the husband used his portion to buy his wife a present. That was one of my favorite stories in the book, and I love being able to treat my husband every once in a while to something fun.

          • Lizzie

            Aw, that’s so cute. Thanks for the reminder about the book…I still haven’t read it and will go look it up in the library catalog right now!

          • Lisa

            It’s really good! I would highly recommend it.

    • another lady

      This was so true for us: “Having an agreed upon amount we each get to spend has made it easier for me to accept when he wants to go out for lunch with his friends or when he makes a big purchase that I consider frivolous.” We don’t really get to make ‘big frivolous purchases” anymore because our entire budget is too tight and we have some larger savings goals. But, it does really help when we take money out of the ATM each month and split up the ‘fun money’ or ‘miscellaneous spending money’. Then, I don’t have to worry about all the ‘stupid crap’ he spends his money on because and I still have $50 in my wallet. So, for the letter writer, give each other a certain amount of money in the budget to spend on ‘random crap’. HE will probably go out to lunch and buy dip… But, you can do whatever you want with your portion! Just make it enough to cover what he usually spends. He will eventually see that if he spends it all on lunches, then he can’t do the other fun stuff, and you get to buy xyz items instead. Try to get to the bottom of his reasons for doing certain things. Maybe going out to eat with co-workers is something her really likes to do, is a stress reliever, or a necessary part of his job. For example, my husband works from home and he needs to get out of the house and socialize a few days a week. So, he is always going to do that, whether it’s ‘in the budget’ or not!

      • Mary Jo TC

        I agree with this–give ourselves equal amounts of ‘fun money’ and stop stressing. It’s also true that lunch customs vary by workplace culture, and it may be hard NOT to eat out in some jobs. My husband and I had some talks and adjustments with this. His job has a cafeteria where everyone eats, and if you don’t eat there you miss out on talking to people and building relationships. In my job, everyone packs their lunch. So my lunch food is bought with the grocery budget, while his was coming out of his fun money. We finally decided that wasn’t fair and gave him a lunch allowance based on the amount of money my lunch food costs, plus some extra. Anything he spends beyond that is on him.

  • lady brett

    honestly, in my experience, talking about the numbers and the money didn’t help at all. my honey is not a numbers person, and has a history with being broke that makes talking about money inherently scary. so our money conversations kind of went “here’s what i’m worried about, here are some options, etc.” “yes, yes, yes *cry*” and then nothing changed. the two things that actually changed my honey’s money habits (slowly, and a little bit) were quitting their job and making big plans.

    when my honey quit their job to go back to school, the conversations were no longer “i am not comfortable spending that much of our money eating out” but rather “we don’t have the money to eat out” which, technically, i guess means i won that argument ’cause we ate out a lot less…but not in any sustainable way, and it certainly wasn’t helping our savings.

    the bigger (and slower) one has been starting to make real, long-term plans for ourselves and our family. talking about saving money for “emergencies” or “retirement” or “a cushion” honestly just wasn’t concrete enough for my honey to *really* care about. i mean, they got it conceptually in a “saving more is something we should do” way, but not in a way that was a strong enough motivator to change habits. but talking about the details of our dream – how we want to move, and that will cost $____ and when we move, coming home to visit family will cost $_____, and then we would like to build our (practical but particular) dream house, which is a serious investment in the $____-$____ range, and they want to take the kids to disneyworld some day, and when i am a housewife having one income will mean we have to pay more attention to our money, and when we retire, won’t we have a blast like our parents are? but all of that costs money that we don’t have, and our dream life doesn’t require us to be wealthy, but it *isn’t going to happen* if we don’t put some money away to make it happen – and that has been the motivator for my honey.

    i save money because spending it makes me anxious and i don’t see the fun in a lot of the stuff you buy, my honey actually likes spending money and the things you get with it, and needs an equally compelling reason to not. (also, sometimes “this is really important to someone i love” is the compelling reason. my honey would never have even started talking about money, and i probably wouldn’t ever go out to eat if it weren’t for that, so it’s worth mentioning ;)

    (also, from a money perspective, the truck might be a sunk cost – cars lose value fast enough that it is possible y’all won’t gain much by selling it. kind of sucks, but make sure you do the math on that before you make it a big fight. your best bet might be to learn and do better the next time you buy a car.)

    • Sosuli

      That is a really interesting contribution, thanks. I’ve been trying to have similar conversations with my spender FH, but haven’t been working… so I think a change of approach like you mention might be necessary.

      Though the difference with us is that i’m the one who is about to finish grad school and have no earnings, so I don’t always feel in the position to tell FH that he should be saving more for our rent since I might soon not be able to contribute. So tricky. He keeps saying “there are things we can cut back on IF we need to” and I try and say it would be better to cut back now so we don’t end up suddenly really struggling… but so far no good. The moment, I imagine, will come up at some point that he will stop spending because there isn’t money to spend with… just hoping he doesn’t think it’s my fault as the temporarily non-earning partner. (Sorry, longwinded response, your post just gave me all the thoughts!)

      • Eenie

        Currently unemployed. I made agreeing to budget a requirement for me to quit my job. It just causes me so much stress. I am about to bring 0 money to our household, and I guided the household budget this month.

        • TeaforTwo

          I am employed, but my husband earns significantly more than I do, and our current plan is for me to quit my job to stay home with our kid(s) when the time comes.

          I completely run our finances. He hates talking about money and isn’t good with details, so I pay all the bills and manage all of the investments, and set our budget every month. I ask for input, and he gives it when something matters to him, but he’s generally happy to follow along. I really appreciate that dynamic, because it means I have other ways of contributing financially, and he isn’t pulling the “MY money, I earned it” card.

    • Leah

      I can definitely speak to the FEAR aspect of finances – with a shift in
      more of the opposite direction. While I’m not really a spender, I am
      definitely the less financially responsible member of our relationship –
      something that my hubs has definitely told me that he finds stressful.

      The thing is that, after growing up in a reasonably well-off family
      where I didn’t have to think too much about money, I found myself stuck
      in 2-3 years of post-phd un/under-employment, during which I was making
      VERY little money, and this terrified me – and also made me feel GUILTY for not ‘doing as well as my parents’ and the effect was basically a
      paralysis when it came to finances. Just thinking about bills, savings,
      organizing our money, etc. brought me to tears because I was terrified
      about how little I had. So when my husband brought up finances my
      response was, as you said, ‘yes yes, *cry*’
      My husband, who grew up
      in a family that was always budget-conscious, was rightly frustrated by
      this. But I couldn’t break the cycle, and so the conversations never ended very well, despite both of our best efforts. Now that I have a good stable job,
      I am suddenly able to be an active participant in our conversations
      about savings, spending, finances, etc. because there’s so much less
      fear and guilt blocking the process for me. It’s amazing how much emotional baggage we carry with us when it comes to finances.

  • Eenie

    Money stress is the worst stress. I would advocate beginning take savings out ahead of time – separate account that is harder to get to. Some perspective if you need it – my fiance’s truck payment is $400 a month. What has helped since we combined finances was actually budgeting, which includes setting aside savings. I think the big thing here is you have to cut back somewhere to make the numbers work. A budgeting tool that we use is ynab – it really has showed me where my money is going and it was not the same as where I THOUGHT my money was going. You could also try using mint for free. I find transparency helps. Otherwise maybe he just needs an allowance.

  • Kayla

    Have you tried looking at a retirement income calculator together? Those things are TERRIFYING. When you’re suddenly face-to-face with a future where you’re dead broke (because you didn’t save) vs. comfortable (because interest), that can be pretty motivating.

    • Cathi

      I agree, looking at what you need in order to retire and not be homeless for your twilight years can be a really big kick in the pants.

      “Two million dollars? We’re only saving $100 a month right now! How are we supposed to amass two million?!”

      It’s also a great kick in the pants to see a financial planner and learn about investing, because no amount of simple saving is going to make us millionaires.

  • AP

    I think pre-marital counseling about this issue is key. Like other commenters have said, getting a handle on your spending priorities and getting on the same page now, before you get married, will make things so much easier down the road.

    Money was a huge problem in my last relationship. My ex was the spender, I was the saver. Which was fine when we both had steady incomes. But over the course of one terrible year, I lost my job and he had medical issues that all but wiped out our savings, and suddenly all the ways we were different about money came to light as huge personality differences. His spending tendencies came from a place of not taking responsibility for his actions because there was always someone there to bail him out. First his parents, then me. My saving habits were a way to control my world, and when my world was out of control, gripping down on the bank account was a way to control the people in my world. It was not a healthy dynamic.

    My point is, sometimes it’s just about the money. Numbers and budgets and serious talks will fix it. But sometimes it’s not just about the money. Counseling can help you figure that out.

  • emmers

    I see two issues here. One is that some of his choices you don’t agree with (tobacco, truck, eating out for lunches), and another is that as a team, you aren’t saving.

    For the saving part, I second what so many folks have said. A budget may be helpful, one that includes a set amount of monthly saving, that automatically deducts each month (mine deducts the day after I get paid!), and gets whisked away to a harder-to-access account. Some online savings accounts (like Capitol 360) give you a slightly higher interest rate than regular savings accounts, but it takes 2-3 days to make a withdrawal. I have both a regular savings account, through my brick and mortar bank that I can always access (i.e. for immediate use), and another online account that’s harder, for long term. This helps protect me from wanting to draw from savings just because I want a new purse or something.

    For the spending part, once your monthly savings and bills are covered, I’ve found it helpful to recognize that there are things that my husband values that I do not, and vice versa. My husband also chews tobacco, which I don’t love. To make it better economically for us, we buy logs of tobacco from Costco, which saves a ton. My husband also drives a truck, and eats out in restaurants for lunch. But because our bills are covered, I’m OK with that. I spend my money differently (and honestly, save more!), but I take trips to visit friends across the country, which he doesn’t really do. It’s all about balance, and it takes time, grace, and conversations. Your values may not be exactly the same, and that’s OK, as long as you can find a balance that works for your family.

  • A

    When we worked to get on the same page financially, the most important part of the conversation was first agreeing on a vision for our financial future, and then working out the numbers for how we needed to be living to get there. While saving money is an inherently good goal, we found it much more motivating to agree together on something like a future retirement age, or an opportunity to take a sabbatical, or $X per year on travel, and then back our budget into that goal, both of us making decisions to cut back on things we valued less in service of our goal (in our case, early retirement or ability to work part time for both of us).

    I think it’s tough to conceptualize the importance of giving things that make you happy now just for the sake of saving more, but when you turn it to a question of values and priorities (i.e. I value my long-term goal of not having to be dependent on a full-time job above the short-term happiness that comes with frequently eating out), it was much easier for us to get on the same page and get excited about saving.

    Good luck!

  • Kara

    Since you’re not married, mini-socialism doesn’t yet apply (it’s nice that you’re working towards this as you move towards marriage, but you’re not married). My husband and I only have joint savings/checking for the mortgage/big home expenses (like saving up for remodeling), and I know not everyone is in agreement with me on this, but it works for us. We pay off our on vehicles separately, and we each pay half of the car insurance. Full stop.

    We both saved up for our house, but I had significantly more savings because I had worked in a lucrative career that allowed me to save up a bunch before we ever got married.

    1.) Protect yourself financially — go back to splitting things (but you shouldn’t contribute to the items below)
    2.) Make his truck payment, trunk insurance, everything related to his fun truck purchase come out of his “own” money
    3.) His dip habit should come out of his own money
    4.) His lunches should come out of his own money

    Yes, you care about him and your future together, and you want to have savings in case of any emergency, but he needs to also handle the consequences of his choices (the new expensive truck was a choice).

    Definitely consider counseling, and have conversations explaining why this is important to you and your future. If he can’t get on board with some sort of compromise for your future together, this is something you’ll have to weigh and consider before moving forward.

    Good luck!

    • Kara

      Here’s a run down of what works for us….when you choose you **not** to do mini-socialism:

      Info: we’ve been married 6 years (married as older folks, had lived apart long distance for a few years, and understood how to manage a household before ever getting married and living together
      * I make almost 2x’s more than my husband
      * paid by __ means it comes from that persons account, we don’t do the pool $$ and divvy up by allowances

      Mortgage: 2/3 paid by me, 1/3 paid by husband (goes in joint checking)
      Cell phone bill (both our phones): paid by husband
      Internet/Home phone / cable: paid by husband
      Water: paid by me
      Electric bill: paid by me
      Heating bill (we’re in Houston, so tiny): paid by me
      Security system bill: paid by me
      HOA: paid by me
      Car payments: paid by the individual who purchased said vehicle
      Car insurance: split 50/50
      Home flood insurance: paid by husband
      Home warranty: paid by husband in the past (but will probably split 50/50)

      Groceries: whoever is there purchasing them
      Vet bills: paid by me (goes on my fancy card for future travel)
      Animal food: 90% of the time paid by husband
      Meals out: more often than not, I pay for, but my husband pays too
      home items (like cleaner / Target shopping): whoever is purchasing items
      lawn care: we trade off paying lawn care person
      appliances / equipment for home: pay off jointly, unless it’s a tool that husband wants for himself (then he pays off)

      • emmers

        We kind of do this- he takes some expenses, I take others. We’re on each other’s accounts, but in practice they’re separate.

        Eta, but we def transfer $$ back and forth by writing checks- both for paying bills, and if someone is running low for whatever reason.

        • Kara

          This was far easier, and we can see what everything costs (we both have the login info for everything). We pay off our on credit cards in full every month, too.

          Savings: we each contribute to the joint savings account and I add more to my own savings account (I love to save $$).

          All the bills get paid. We don’t fight over $$. There’s transparency. No one has to be the “bad” guy in finances–it’s already spelled out and agreed upon.

          If something comes up unexpectedly, we just ask for help where it’s needed. Like “so the ABC ended up being more than I expected, can you cover X?”. This is very rare by the way.

    • CMT

      Wait, why can’t mini-socialism apply if they’re not married?

      • Kara

        To me, mini-socialism pre-marriage is a risk that isn’t worth it. For other’s, it might work, but it’s a risky game to play. If the partnership breaks down, how do you determine who “owns” what monetarily?

        • CMT

          Sure, but that doesn’t mean some people don’t do that. Marriage isn’t a necessary condition for joint finances and risk-sharing.

          • laddibugg

            To be fair, for some things it is. Tax liability is one such case.

      • another lady

        in my mind- because legally, you aren’t really financially responsible for each other. In our state, WI, when you get married, *almost* everything is considered marital property. In a divorce situation, things would most likely be split 50/50 or decided how to be divided ‘equally’. In a living together but not married situation, you can just break up and each person usually takes what they have at the time and moves on. Financially and legally, you are not really responsible for the other person. I have seen people get royally screwed this way, and thus, we decided not to join finances until we were officially married (we lived together for 1.5 years before marriage). But, if they already bought a house together, than that ship may have sailed and they may actually both be financially responsible for at least the house.

        • Kara

          Thank you for explaining this so well! I too have seen people get royally screwed when finances were combined without any legal protection (marriage).

          You do have a point though….LW and her fiance already bought a house, so like you said “that ship may have sailed”.

  • Katherine

    For my husband & me, it’s been very helpful to understand the life histories that have led to our somewhat differing philosophies about money — this doesn’t mean that we don’t still sometimes disagree, but it does mean that we can have a discussion about the actual issues/disagreements, rather than about how they manifest on the surface. Specific discussions about budgeting have actually become less emotional and more productive now that we understand why we disagree.

    • NTB

      THIS.

  • Amy March

    I think also consider if this is really about savings, or if it’s about just not liking his truck and tobacco. The money issue may also need solving, but if what you’re really feeling is “I hate trucks and tobacco” that’s a different value difference to solve.

    • Mary Jo TC

      I wondered this too, as someone for whom any regular tobacco use would be an immediate deal-breaker as I find it viscerally disgusting. I watched my sister marry a smoker. He seemed to quit when their son was born, but I think he took it back up. And just the idea of whether or not it’s ok to go into debt for a vehicle is a values thing.

    • Alison O

      Yes. The other thought that comes to mind for me is, when you marry someone, you are marrying the person they currently are, and you should be conscious of that. You may have an idea in your head that you are marrying the individual whom that person may or may not become in the future, but all you can count on is what is true in the moment. So I wouldn’t marry someone betting that they’ll change their spending habits or stop a habit like tobacco use, if I wouldn’t be satisfied with those things continuing indefinitely. There are things I wish were a bit different about my partner (and vice versa), but if we’re getting married, I’m fully accepting and marrying the person he is right now. I am saying to myself and him, it’s fine to me if you never change XYZ things I’m not particularly keen on (also keeping in mind that we will both no doubt change in ways for better or worse that we can’t predict).

  • emilyg25

    What is his allowance for if not chewing tobacco and sit-down lunches and maybe car payments if you both agree?

    There are definitely some big spender/saver value issues here that you need to work through, but you also might want to discuss the nitty gritty logistics of your arrangement.

    • Lizzie

      That’s what I was thinking too…it’s one thing to say “we need to save more, and it needs to come from somewhere [like your spending money]” and entirely another thing to say “you need to change your habits and interests [but mine are okay].” Some of the money is the fiance’s income, so I think he has the right to spend some of it however he wants. Part of the fun of being an adult is choosing what to spend money on.

      Don’t get me wrong, tobacco in any form grosses me out, and I think big trucks are dumb, but I respect someone’s right to spend their money on things of their choosing.

      • It sounds like…LW wants to save, but they’re not taking it out of their join account. So s/he has savings from the personal account, but he does not. It seems like the most obvious solution would be to decide on how much monthly should be put into savings…then TobaccoTruckLunch will have to decide what to cut to meet that monthly savings goal. The money just won’t be there for his personal spending. But maybe I read it wrong, who knows.

        • Lizzie

          Oh, I see…I assumed that savings would be shared like expenses, but now it makes sense that only LW has savings and would end up covering special occasions or emergencies for Tobacco TruckLunch with these savings. Basically if only one person has savings, they become the emergency fund for both by default, right?

          • Yeah, not exactly my idea of a shared and equal partnership.

  • Alexandra

    When my husband and I were dating, I was nervous because I knew his car was more than he could afford, and he also had a significant student loan. I am extremely debt-averse, have always driven paid-for beaters, paid my own way through graduate school, and had a six month emergency fund saved up when I met him. As a long-time spinster-schoolteacher, careful, detail-oriented personal finance has always been a BIG DEAL to me.

    This was a topic of discussion (and worry, for me) in our relationship and pre-marital counseling. Thankfully, he admired my financial habits and wanted to emulate them. While we were dating, he paid off his credit card debt and paid cash for a small engagement ring. He also saved up to pay for a backyard rehearsal dinner. These actions made me ok with shouldering his car loan and student debt.

    The week after the honeymoon we went to the bank and I wrote a check to pay off his car. All of our finances are completely combined and we talk about our budget almost every day. He has become better at this stuff than I am. It is a source of unity and joy in our relationship, and I can’t imagine being married to someone who wasn’t aligned with me this way.

    People can change their financial habits, but radically different philosophies on the topic had probably better think twice about marriage…

    • another lady

      Similar situation here too… now he’s the one reminding me to stay on budget and asking before making big purchases. People can change, they just need to be motivated and have the desire to change. Just because their ideas don’t totally align right now, doesn’t mean that can’t change in the future. You gotta work on it together!

  • Ashlah

    The question of car payments is one I’ve been thinking about lately. For those of you who pool all your money, then pay yourselves an equal allowance each month, how do you deal with car payments? Do you consider it an individual expense, or is a car purchase a joint decision paid for from your joint account?

    My husband has purchased 4 cars in the time I’ve known him (always financed, never paid off), and I’ve purchased one, which I’m planning to pay off early and keep for a long time. He loves his current car and feels like he’ll keep it for a long time, but I just can’t be 100% sure with his track record. With our car philosophies being so different (in his mind, a car payment is just the cost of driving the car you want; in mine, it’s debt for a utilitarian item and I want it gone), I’m both wary of making future car buying into a joint decision, but also think maybe it’s a good idea. The discussions might be tough, but maybe it’d be good to balance each other out?

    Ooh, and what about gas? I think I’d really be okay with making that a joint expense (even though I drive a Prius and he drives a Jeep!), but I’m curious what others do.

    • Lisa

      I turned the “Gas” category into “Transportation” on our YNAB, and that is a joint account for us, even though his ancient 1989 Mercedes takes premium and my Honda needs just the basics. We both need to be able to get places and have cars that are paid off so it’s a burden I’m ok with us shouldering because I’d rather not have the car payment right now.

      For us, cars will definitely be a joint expense, but we have similar-though-still-different philosophies. (Once his family pays off a car, they keep it until it dies. My parents typically keep a car until the warranty expires or sometimes a little longer and then trade it in.) Maybe to combat the feeling of inequality, you could both agree upon a reasonable amount for buying/leasing a car, and then anything he wants in addition to that could come out of his spending money? I feel like a car is such a major expense that affects the whole family budget that it’s important to find a compromise that makes you both comfortable.

      • Lizzie

        Oh, I like that idea! We have one car and three bikes to maintain, and right now the car has its own line item while the bike maintenance (which is $$$ about once a year) comes out of spending money. But “transportation” makes sense to cover all of them.

        • Not Sarah

          We have separate finances. I cover the car and its entirety and occasionally my boyfriend contributes to gas, but he has a bike he uses to get himself around and he pays for Ubers when we go places. It sort of works out, though I’d be weirded out by him wanting to contribute to the car costs when he doesn’t even have a license…

        • Lisa

          Yeah, that’s how I saw it, too. I was mostly getting miffed because it made it really confusing when we started taking Uber or public transit when we went back to visit friends in Chicago. (“Does this come out of Vacation or spending money or…?”) We also have three bikes that I know will need check-ups at some point so, since we use the bikes for commuting, I can definitely see anything we buy for them coming out of that category, too.

    • NotMarried!

      Great question. We are currently shopping for a new vehicle after being hit this past weekend. This will be our first major-ish purchase together, and wow do peoples priorities and preferences vary. I’m pretty lucky that we both agree on buying new not used vehicles and paying cash; but still – how much do you budget for the purchase? What other savings goals will suffer because of investing extra for bells&whistles? Or, maybe those bells&whistles are what makes the car worth having?

      Regarding gas as a joint expense – if you track it separately, then does that become an issue when you go places together – who drives/pays for gas? i’d rather just combine it.

    • Mary Jo TC

      We make gas a joint expense. Our commutes are about equal, and our cars get roughly equal gas mileage, so it’s not hard to feel that’s fair. Sure, each of us make little trips around town that are elective and individual, but the calculus involved in parsing that out and making each of us pay for those individually is not worth it. The one exception, though, is that when we’re taking a long car trip to visit family, that gas comes out of the ‘family travel’ budget.
      We’re going to have to replace my car in the next year, so this is a conversation we’ll have to have too. We just bought a new one for my husband about two years ago, and we haven’t replenished ‘car savings’ to where we’d like it to be to be able to buy a reliable new used car. We’re both ‘pay cash and drive them into the ground’ people, so at least we agree in principle on that, even if we’re not able to totally follow that with the reality of what will be in our account when we finally buy. The other choice we’ll have this time is whether or not to go for third row seating. I’m having our second child in March and we might have a third someday. I really prefer to drive a sedan rather than minivan or SUV, and I don’t think you NEED third row seating until you have a third car seat to wrangle. So right now I’m leaning toward getting a sedan, maybe a less nice one that will have to be replaced in 2-3 years anyway, and putting off the mom car as long as possible.

      • Lisa

        This is something we’re talking about now because we’re looking at a 3-5 year timeline for kids. I think it would be more practical to get rid of his (older than him) car and buy what would become the family vehicle (probably an SUV since that seems to be the middle ground between his station wagon and my minivan ideas). However, husband wants to keep his car and get a third one once we have kids. I really don’t want our driveway to become the parking lot that his family has (7 cars), but he can’t imagine getting rid of “a perfectly good vehicle.” Not sure how to resolve this other than to continue to bide my time and try to convince that he wants what I want, ha.

        • emilyg25

          We have two sub-compact sedans and they’re just fine for life with our one kid. We could squeeze two car seats into them if we had another. You don’t necessarily need a new car as soon as you start a family. Also, I bet if you give him time managing a car seat in a less-than-ideal car, he’ll get used to the idea of upgrading quickly. :)

          • Ashlah

            I so appreciate hearing this from someone who’s been there. I know it’s true (as much as a non-parent can know), but I’m surrounded by upper class people who buy SUVs as soon as they get pregnant. They all tell us we’ll need to get rid of one or both of our cars, and I want so badly to prove them all wrong. Honestly, even if my Prius c is a little inconvenient with a kiddo, I’ll probably hang on to it out of spite!

          • Amy March

            It’s just a trend though. Growing up in an upper class area no one had SUVs because they just weren’t a thing yet. Children fit fine in sedans, and if you wind up with two kids and you really can’t squeeze them in or three or more and need another row, there will always be cars available to buy.

          • Violet

            I dunno, have you seen the absurd car seat requirements now? Kids up through 7 years old in some states need car seats. Those things are huge (the car seats, not the kids!). You cannot fit three car seats for three kids under 7 in the back of a sedan simultaneously. You just can’t… or has anyone figured it out?

          • Ashlah

            That’s true! We’re only planning on having one kid, so that applies less to us. If we were planning on two (or especially more) I might be singing a different tune. But I’d probably still bristle at the (oftentimes condescending) assumption that we need a bigger car as soon as we have one baby.

          • lady brett

            you totally can (often, at least, but it does definitely depend on the car). the two ways i’ve seen it done are expensive skinny car seats (the ones we have are discontinued, but we have 3 identical seats in the back of a toyota matrix) or cheap overlapping carseats (the cheapest seats walmart sells come in a convertable and a booster style, and the convertible one sits up high enough that you can overlap the sides of it with the booster style one and i’ve seen 3 in the back of a 10-year-old corolla that way). it won’t always work, and it takes a bunch of research and luck and is a pain in the ass (and crowded for the kids), but it’s worked for us so far.

          • Violet

            Aiyaiyai. Well good to know it’s possible, at least! The Tetris you’re describing is, I think, evidence that the increase in “kids means big car” is not solely driven by trendiness, and has at least some actual pragmatism behind it. Still likely not the most cost-effective strategy, but it’s comprehensible.

          • Laura C

            On the other hand, more expensive narrow car seats are still cheaper than an SUV.

          • Violet

            Yeah, I know, that’s why I said it’s still likely not the most cost-effective strategy!

          • Mary Jo TC

            No joke! For us, the sticking point is long drives. If we spring for the ‘family car’ (ugh) before the 3rd kid, that will be why. When we take long drives now, I sit in the back next to the toddler’s car seat. If we have 2 car seats in the back, I probably won’t fit in the middle of them, and we might end up stopping constantly to get out and manage them. Just anticipating this is giving me nightmares.

          • lady brett

            one thing to consider in that math is rental cars. i used to think they were a waste of money, but now i figure renting a minivan is a hell of a lot cheaper than feeling like we need to buy one to accommodate our once or twice a year road trips. depends on your habits, of course (and how hard you are fighting the ‘family car”! that’s my motivation ;)

          • Eenie

            If anyone is a costco member, their rental rates are amazing and come standard with two drivers.

          • Amy March

            Or, you might wind up sitting in the front seat and just yelling at them every fifteen minutes that if they don’t stop fighting you will turn the car around :) Its “worked” for generations of parents.

          • AP

            Story of my childhood. I remember many relatively happy 10-hour drives to visit family. Two adults and two kids in a two-door Grand Am. My parents didn’t get a van until we were all off to college!

          • NotMarried!

            How often do y’all go on these long drives? You might run the math and see if renting a van or suv for the road trip once a year or so might be a better financial choice than having a larger year-round vehicle.

          • Mary Jo TC

            4-5 hour drive each way, as often as once a month, but not more frequently than that, though it may be less often in future with 2 kids to wrangle. Certainly more than 3 times a year. So 4-10 times a year? Depending on things like whether there are big events planned in the family. Probably too frequently to make it smart to rent a van.

          • Not Sarah

            It looks like in the Seattle area, I could rent a minivan from Enterprise tomorrow for $94/day. If you need it for 3 days each time and do it 10 times a year, it would cost you about $2,820/year to rent. Insuring my 2011 subcompact costs me about $1,000/year, plus $200 to register it, so you would have to be able amortize the cost of buying the van to less than $1,620/year for buying a van to make more sense.

          • Liz

            Whoops, I posted before seeing this comment down here. It’s all maths and research. Particularly if you have a larger carseat budget (we did not) there are many options that are made narrower to fit. (we have one infant seat, two forward-facing “big kid” seats)

          • Violet

            No, thanks! The more “This is how we did it,” the more hope! (Not saying I’M gonna have three kids, but you know, I just feel some sympathy for people with more than your average 2.5 kids.)

          • laddibugg

            Yeah, ‘back in my day’ you didn’t a car seat or booster for nearly as long as you are required to now. And people put car seats in the front (pre air bag).

          • HKay

            You can’t. Here in Germany, a car magazine tried this on my many model. There are a few car models where it is possible and they’re usually expensive.

          • Liz

            Hi, I have three carseats in the back of our tiny ’02 Chevy Malibu.

          • laddibugg

            The only reason I can see myself wanting an SUV is because it would be SOOOOO much easier to get in and out of while pregnant (I’m tall, and was chunky even before), and easier to strap the kid in once he comes out. But the extra room overall isn’t that big of a deal.

          • HKay

            We have two kids and no car, yet. We walk to work (we chose to buy a smallish place in the city instead of a large house in the suburbs) and we use car sharing for shopping and trips. Now we are looking to buy a car, because yes, with kids the car sharing is becoming expensive enough that a car makes sense.

            BTW, here in Europe, so many young families have a Prius or equivalent cars. Only families with 3 kids or more move on to the SUV so yes it can be done! Whenever I visit my brother in the states, I’m fascinated by the size of the cars!

        • Jessica

          We have one car right now, and it’s kind of perfect for us (it’s a Toyota Yaris). We are in very broad strokes thinking about getting a larger car for when we start having kids for the following reasons:

          1. Keeping the dog away from the baby when all are in the vehicle.
          2. We can’t get the Yaris up our driveway in the winter, so something with all-wheel drive would be great.

          That may be enough to trade it in, it may not be. In a couple years we may also feel that two cars is best, or we may not. Luckily, even though we come from car-loving suburban families (my family had 1.5 cars per person; his had 1 car per person, but a 6 person family), we both are fine with public transportation and like having just one car to manage and pay for.

          • laddibugg

            My guy really wants a Yaris (hatchback), but I’m not totally on board. We’re about to have a baby, and while a car seat + gear will fit, I’d like to try for another one in another two years or so, and two seats/boosters won’t fit. And we’re both the type to keep cars for a while. If he already had one, I wouldn’t be pushing for him to get rid of it right now, but I don’t see the point of getting it after the fact.
            His other ‘want’ is a Yukon, I think. He’s a man of extremes….

          • Jessica

            I think you could do a Yaris (especially a four door) but it probably wouldn’t be great for road trips. But there are other cars out there now that have good gas mileage and more room.

        • Carolyn S

          This article is Canadian, and it’s focused on the cost of adding a second car vs. living close enough to work that you can avoid it BUT it is a really enlightening read about the true cost of owning a vehicle… might be worth sharing if you really want to avoid adding a third car…

          http://www.moneyaftergraduation.com/2015/12/14/it-isnt-cheaper-to-live-in-the-suburbs/

    • emilyg25

      Gas and cars are joint expenses. While we each have our own car, we make car-buying decisions together and keep in mind our general family situation. Once I got comfortable with combining finances, we made pretty much all expenses joint. My husband doesn’t care.

      • Lawyerette510

        We treat it the same way. By chance we co-own both of our cars, but even if technically we held title separately, we would still treat all car stuff as a joint expense that’s included in our budget. I think also we are a little different, in that while we each have a car we drive more, we do switch back and forth pretty regularly based on what each person is doing any day.

      • Ashlah

        I think this is the way I lean towards doing it. I’m sure we can find a healthy balance between what’s best for the family and his automotive desires.

    • Beezy

      In my marriage, we pool all our expenses, and then we both get “fun money” and lunch money (fun money is the same, but he gets more lunch money because our jobs are just completely different, I work from home two days a week, etc.). All other expenses are joint expenses. Everything. I don’t even know how we would split up one person being in charge of paying for certain things.

    • Not Sarah

      If it were me, I would be having a conversation with my husband about his car payment philosophy vs your paying cash / paying off the debt as soon as possible philosophy. His philosophy is expensive enough that it will affect your ability to make joint financial moves down the road like saving for retirement, having a larger emergency fund, buying a house, paying for daycare, etc. So I would say that you guys need to figure out what your joint philosophy on cars is here and how that fits into your bigger life picture. Is your husband willing to, say, retire later in order to have a a newer car all the time? If you counted his car payments and additional insurance costs as part of his allowance, would that be comparable to your hobby spending? Good luck with the discussions!

    • Eenie

      I would say joint money for cars and gas. Unless the cars are not a daily driver (apparently some people have more cars than drivers?). If he likes his jeep for offroading, the gas or extra expenses may need to come out of his fun money, unless it’s something you do together, then it makes sense for joint. My fiance has a truck that I didn’t want him to buy. But we’ve sunk so much money into the car payment and registration (7% of the value in Georgia!!) that he’s keeping it. I’m getting a newer car because I would rather set my current one on fire than have to drive it anymore (he didn’t believe me until it majorly broke down on us and now he hates it too). Once we pay one of the cars off, we will start saving for a cheaper car for him to drive to work. If he had the cheaper car and wanted a truck now, that money would be coming out of his personal money. Obviously, do what works best for you.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      Car payments for us are a joint expense and we view our cars as “ours” though I drive primarily the newer car and it was purchased with what I might prefer to drive in mind. Everything related to our cars such as gas, oil changes etc are also joint expenses.

      We do the bi weekly allowance but that’s basically for anything not budgeted for. I budget for almost everything including gas, train tickets for work, etc.

    • HKay

      For us, any big purchases (like a car) are a joint expense so before we spend any large amount of money on anything (say 500$ plus), both of us have to be on board with it. It forces us to bargain a bit which is actually a very good thing. Disagreements can lead to creative solutions.

  • BDubs

    Oh dear Lord, this!!!
    The only thing that made a difference to my now-husband when we were in premarital therapy was his understanding that my fears and quibbles about money were basically rooted in my fear that if the sh*t hit the fan, he wouldn’t have any money to help provide for our baby family. So if the water heater explodes and destroys all our stuff, or the car needs major work suddenly, or one of us loses a job, I need to know he will have the ability to be the hero and look after us.
    Best of luck, LW!

    • Mary Jo TC

      Meh, that language sounds kind of patriarchal to me, but if that’s what appeals to your husband and helps him see how important the issue is to you, then hey, good for you two. Personally, I’d phrase it as ‘if the shit hits the fan, I need to know he will be an equal partner in fixing things and getting us back on track financially, and not leave me to cover the bills on my own.’
      Your list of financial tragedies makes me think of how my dream would be to have an emergency fund big enough to cover EVERY possible emergency all hitting at once in a single month. For example, we BOTH lose our jobs AND both total our cars AND all 3 of us go to the emergency room, and the house floods, …and so on. Kind of ridiculous, especially considering the amount of money that would have to be sitting around doing nothing to cover all that, especially considering how unlikely that much bad luck all at once is.

      • Violet

        I don’t necessarily disagree with your impressions in terms of the language of “providing” having patriarchal implications. But just a story about heroes:
        When my husband picks up our coffee on the weekends, I say, “My hero!” upon his arrival, and when I pick it up, he says, “My hero!” Anyway, it’s a fun reminder that relationships can have heroes in addition to partners, and it needn’t be along gendered lines.

        • Mary Jo TC

          That is really cute!

      • another lady

        it might be ‘patriarchal’, but that’s how my husband thinks, too! It’s one of the only arenas in life that he feels this way, but it’s just how he was raised.
        I had to convice him that I did in fact want to marry him even though he had student loan debt and a ‘not great’ job at the time. Say it to him: We are a team, we will work this out together!

  • Sarah Danielle

    I’m a spender (who has a financial planner for a father..) I have a savings account which automatically takes a set amount from my paycheck each pay period. It is one of the only ways I save. If I didn’t even get a chance to see it was there and miss it. It also helped that I started off with a smaller amount designated to savings and then upped the amount later, helped me to adjust to having less and less to “spend.” Maybe something like this would work for your fiancee. “We are both contributing x amount to this account automatically?” Also, a meeting with a Financial Planner may not be cheap, but it gives you an un-biased person to sit down with you and talk about your financial goals as a couple, make a plan everyone agrees to and it becomes less of a finger pointing type of thing.

    • Emily

      We received a year of a financial planner’s services for a wedding present. Probably the best thing that’s ever happened to our relationship. He helped us manage a budget framed in the big picture (ie buying a house, having a baby, retiring sometime before we’re 80) and whenever one of us wanted to spend a lot on something we can turn to “The Guy” for an unbiased opinion on whether we could afford it.

      • Lizzie

        That’s a creative wedding present! Was it through a big national firm or more like a “we signed you up with our own accountant who’s like a member of the family by now?”

        • Emily

          Sort of both, my husband’s uncle works as an estate lawyer and hooked us up with a buddy of his. So he’s close enough for us to be super comfortable without sacrificing his objectivity. It was great though because not only did we get financial counsel but then we got our “estate” in order and signed wills, worked out beneficiaries etc… I really hope to be able to pass this kind of gift on to my friends/family in the future

  • TeaforTwo

    YNAB.

    YNAB pitches itself as saving you money through the power of budgeting, but in our house it has been more valuable for saving our relationship through the power of evidence-based decision-making.

    Before YNAB, we had different ideas of what we could and could not afford, mostly based on our individual priorities and values. (I thought we could not afford his daily lunches out, and he thought we could not afford my $200 haircuts. “Unnecessary spending” was almost synonymous with “what the other person spends money on.”) And we felt like we should be saving “more,” and not spending “too much” but those aren’t numbers.

    With YNAB (and you could do it with a different budgeting tool, but YNAB was what finally worked for us), we have been able to set concrete goals. We used a retirement calculator to figure out how much we need to be saving, and we save that. We figured out what we were typically spending on categories like groceries, and based our budget on actual spending instead of what we FELT we should spend.

    Having it all in one place makes it clear how much is left after we’ve met our big obligations, which has helped us figure things out like how often we can afford the lunches and the haircuts, and what we have to spend on a new car or a vacation, etc.

    • Beezy

      “”Unnecessary spending” was almost synonymous with “what the other person spends money on.”)”

      So much this. YNAB has probably (not even kidding) saved my marriage. And having our own money (and own lunch money accounts!) that the other person has no say over? That I can save up and he can drain every month? Amazing.

      • TeaforTwo

        Ha! I see the joy of separate accounts, but we have found we don’t need them. As long as our big bases are covered (long-term savings, emergency fund, bills, etc.) it turns out that we don’t care what the other person is spending money on or how much. For us, the wrinkle was that he’d buy expensive steaks on a Tuesday night and I’d think “WE WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO RETIRE.” Now that I know that’s not true, I don’t give a second’s thought to his spending, even though it’s all from a joint account.

    • Violet

      “And we felt like we should be saving “more,” and not spending “too much” but those aren’t numbers.” This!

    • Essssss

      What retirement calculator did you use? I feel like this is the next big conversations. I’ve been saving for retirement through my 20s and he hasn’t. I’ve got a job with benefits and he’s working on a PhD (with stipend). I would like us both to be contributing to retirement but have no idea where to start with balancing whats realistic for us right now, and what we’re gonna need.

      • Lisa

        I just did some Googling, and I think the AARP one was actually pretty comprehensive. Though if anyone has one that was awesome for them, I’d love to hear more suggestions!

      • TeaforTwo

        This will only be helpful to Canadians, but I used the Service Canada retirement planner.

        For those of you who ARE Canadian: Use it. It helped me figure out what we could expect from the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, and then how that would combine with our private savings. I’d been thinking we would need this HUGE amount to retire, but when I realized that we’d actually get about $20K/year in government pensions, the amount we needed to have saved up dropped drastically. It was a big relief.

        • Just wondering, is 20K/year for 2 people or for 1? I’m assuming this is based on how much you expect to earn in your lifetime as the more you contribute to CPP/QPP the more you get back? I’m a huge saver and always maxed out my RRSPs every year but never actually crunched the numbers.

        • TeaforTwo, thank you so much for saying this. I have recently been thinking about retirement savings and have no idea how the pension plan works here, etc., so I will definitely check all this out in the near future as I try to plan towards all that.

    • HKay

      Yes. We got YNAB based on a recommendation here and it is AWESOME. I also highly recommend it (or a similar software)

  • kate

    this seems like the perfect time to hold a Marriage Summit. (i think my husband and I got this idea from reading through comments on APW awhile back, actually!) Every 6 months we plan a special date – at home, at a hotel, really anywhere – for our Biannual Marriage Summit! We make it sound very exciting and important and we both prepare ourselves the week prior by taking notes on everything that we would like to discuss. We usually break it down into the following categories – Finance Goals, Relationship Goals, Personal Health Goals, and Travel Goals. By having this special time to really delve into each category, it helps us to avoid arguing about money throughout the year. Or if one of us has a habit that is annoying the other, we file it away to discuss at The Marriage Summit. By separating our regular lives from this special meeting of sorts, we’re able to discuss everything in what seems like a safer place – where we know we’re not going to get into an argument, where we can really hear each other out on each topic, etc.

    For example, at our most recent one just a few weeks ago, we discussed how I felt we were not saving enough, and we looked at all of our bills together and saw where we were spending frivolously. When we reached our Personal Goals and Travel Goals sections, we realized we wouldn’t have enough to reach many of our goals if we did not begin to put aside more money in a savings account. This helped my husband really see that if he cut back on X, Y, or Z, we could save up enough to travel next year. We also discussed things like personal health – last fall I was in and out of the hospital very unexpectedly and we didn’t have all the funds necessary to pay for the medical bills right away. I brought this up while we were discussing everything and we decided it would be smart for us to both start putting away money into a shared savings for Emergencies such as this. (We now have 6 shared savings accounts with Capital One 360 – money is auto-deducted when we each get paid and split up into those accounts – highly recommend!)

    • Ashlah

      I love this idea. I’ve been planning to start trying a smaller version of this by letting him know I want to talk about [topic] on [day], so that he has time to think about it beforehand. His anxiety means that things can sometimes devolve into arguments if I bring up a topic he wasn’t expecting. It also just seems fair for us both to have had time to think about something and be prepared to discuss our feelings, rather than me blindsiding him with something I’ve already been ruminating on for a while.

      • kate

        exactly! that’s why we originally started doing this – because we both have trouble speaking our minds if we haven’t had a few days to really think through different issues first to collect our thoughts. and having a few different “categories” that we each need to chat about helps us on so many levels…like if i haven’t been holding up my share of the housework, or if he thinks we haven’t been having enough sex the past few weeks, etc – it’s just great to have a “safe place” to discuss it all without getting upset/angry//anxious.

        • Violet

          I love hearing how different couples approach these things, especially when they are so foregin from my experience. If my husband told me, “I need to talk to you about some financial things. How’s next week?” I’d just about die of apprehension. ; ) Shows you there really is nor right or wrong way, simply whatever works for that couple’s communication style.

          • kate

            Absolutely! And i think part of why this does work for us is that we have the dates scheduled out far in advance – first weekend in January, and first weekend in June. It almost becomes less personal in a way, so there aren’t any of those scary feelings for us. I think on the other hand, if we didn’t make it a point to have these little biannual meetings, if one of us went to the other and said hey, we need to talk about our sex life, how’s june 1st for you? I would have the same exact feeling as you described, haha! But I completely agree, just because this method works for us, does not mean it will work for everyone, and that’s important to recognize as well.

      • Essssss

        Yeah, if my husband feels blind sided by money conversations, they go nowhere, even though once we get through the conversation, we’re actually on the same page and working towards the same goals. I’ve taken to emailing him a list of everything on my mind to read at his leisure and digest (I process by talking, he processes by being quiet and thinking for a while). Then, when we’re ready, we talk. Its not perfect and it definitely feels more charged and complicated than anything else, even though we’re both happy with how we’re doing financial things. There is just so much power inherent in money conversations that we have to work extra hard to get there.

    • kate

      edit: just realized the LW is not married – but could still be applicable if they gave the meeting a new name :)

    • emmers

      We do this maybe once a month, on a smaller scale. We call it “State of the Union,” and it’s usually related to things like budgeting, finances, life insurance, and goals. We’ll say something like,”let’s do a state of the union tonight,” so it’s semi-planned. Highly recommend!

      • kate

        State of the Union! That is so clever. We might have to change our title from Marriage Summit to State of the Union. :)

        • emmers

          haha, total credit to the partner on this one. It does make me smile!

  • Louise

    Before we got married, my husband used to make some spending decisions I didn’t always agree with. Eventually, we agreed that we should be saving more and were in a financial situation to do so, so we agreed on a number that we would aim to save each month and then… I asked him to be in charge of managing the whole thing. This was partly because I had a job and he didn’t (we were living abroad for my career), so he had more mental space with which to deal with it, but it REALLY helped him be more thoughtful about his spending. I would ask a few times a month how the saving was going and that was it. He used to HATE looking at how much money he had and just preferred denial, but now he is on top of it. We don’t always meet our monthly goal, but we’ve got a lot more in the bank then we used to, and we are both more thoughtful about big expenses.

  • laddibugg

    While the cost of the truck and insurance should be of concern, my bigger question is what is the interest rate, and why is his insurance high (is it just because he’s required to have full coverage because the vehicle is financed, or are there other issues contributing to the cost, like tickets and accidents)

    I think sometimes we need to consider what our SO’s ‘letter’ would say. His might be “I think I got a good deal on this truck, and my insurance is reasonable, but my fiancee is driving a teenage year old car that constantly needs repairs” .

  • tr

    For the longest time, my fiance and I had the same problem. I’m extremely frugal, whereas whenever he wanted something, if he had the money for it, he bought it. As a result, I was always the one with the savings for our cushion, while he never had a spare dime leftover. Every time something went wrong, my cushion covered it.
    Well, one time I decided I was going to use a little of my money to go on a (very, very affordable) vacation with my friends. Right before I was supposed to leave, another minor emergency came up (as in, not an end of the world “We’ll lose the house if this isn’t paid by next week” sort of thing) and the fiance asked me to cover it. Covering the full amount would have meant no vacation for me, and since we’d been through this a dozen times before, I’d had it. I told him I was still going on my vacation, and that when I came back, whatever was left could go towards this minor emergency, but that he’d probably have to chip in a little himself.
    While I spent five days on the beach with friends, the fiance spent his weekend and evenings after work doing odd jobs to come up with the money. Being “lowered” to painting people’s baseboards and mowing lawns gave him plenty of time to think about the fact that, despite making significantly less money, I’d managed to save up enough for a beach vacation AND cover 90% of our “emergencies”, while he never finished a month with more than $20 to his name.
    He’s still not as frugal as I am (my tightness borders on the pathological at times), but that incident really was a wakeup call for him. It also gave him a much deeper appreciation for all of the little things I was always sacrificing in order to give us such a cushion, and that’s meant almost as much to me as the improvement in his financial habits!

  • Nick William

    My name is Nick William from Canada. I never believed in love spells or magic until i met this spell caster once when i went to Africa in February this year on a business summit. I meant a man who’s name is DR.Odisha he is really powerful and could help cast spells to bring back one’s gone, lost, misbehaving lover and magic money spell or spell for a good job or luck spell .I’m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 3 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 2years. I really loved him, but his mother was against us and he had no good paying job. So when i met this spell caster Dr Odisha, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him. At first i was undecided, skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. And in 7 days when i returned to Canada, my boyfriend (now husband) called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with his mom and family and he got a new job interview so we should get married. I didn’t believe it cos the spell caster only asked for my name and my boyfriends name and all i wanted him to do. Well we are happily married now and we are expecting our little kid, and my husband also got the new job and our lives became much better. His email is: odishaspelltemple@yahoo.com.