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Steph’s Spouse Situation- Part One

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Sunday I wrote about my work situation.  Now, I want to talk about the relationship my husband and I have and how we deal with our debt.

My husband is a wonderful, wonderful man.  For our entire marriage if I were to merely mention that I want something he has done everything in his power to make it happen.   I don’t mean to say that he’s good because he gives me “stuff”.  What I mean is that he loves me and will do everything he can to make me happy. I cannot tell y’all how much I love that man.  Gushiness aside, we are totally different when it comes to just about everything and money management is no different.

I will nickel and dime us to death.  What I mean by that is big purchases cause great anxiety but a few dollars here and there don’t bother me at all. This drives my husband crazy because sometimes the nickels and dimes add up to more than a large purchase would. I will also settle for something because it’s less expensive than what I really want and so that costs us more in the long run.  This also drives him crazy.  He would rather pay more and get exactly what he wants than to settle or to buy something cheap that won’t hold up. He feels like we work hard so if we want something, and we can afford it, then we should get it.  I shared this line of thought for a long time but then I started to feel like getting out of debt was something that we needed to do.  It’s hard to explain but I just feel like it’s the right thing to do, does that make sense?  At first, he thought I was nuts.  He felt like we could afford our bills and what was the point of working hard if we couldn’t enjoy the financed fruits of our labor?  When he saw how much getting out of debt meant to me, he started to get more on board.

So, we started on this getting out of debt journey.  It wasn’t long before it was clear to both of us that while we were headed for the same goal, our reasons for reaching that goal were different. I want to get out of debt because I feel like getting into debt in the first place was wrong.  I feel like we had no business buying things that we didn’t have the cash for and I want to teach our girls that they should rely on God and themselves for all that they have, not some bank.  My husband has no problem with debt and feels like sometimes it’s smart to use the banks money to make our money work better for us. The reason he wants out of debt is because he wants to be able to retire in his fifties.  He wants us to be able to do what we want and not be tied down to work.

Our differing reasons haven’t been too much of a problem so far because the goal is the same. I’m hoping it stays that way.  What about y’all?  Do any of you find yourself in a similar situation with your partner?


11 Comments

  • Reply debtor |

    I think this is a great example of how people can use their differences to work towards a common goal. I’m not married but I’m always interested in how couples navigate all these things. Growing up in unrelated households gives you such different experiences and value systems it’s quite amazing that people are able to make it all work.

    It sounds like what works for you guys is that you seem to have pretty clear communication lines. I think i fall somewhere between you and him – i’ll inconvenience myself to save money (take the bus/train instead of flying even if it takes longer) but when it comes to goods i’ve found it’s better to spend the money upfront. For example, i used to buy flats from payless for $10-$14. I had a prior pair from Aldos for $50 or $60 which i thought was ridiculous. But then i would have to buy new ones from payless every 6-7wks whereas the aldo’s one kept up for 3 years so i definitely pay more attention to quality and durability now.

    • Reply Stephannie |

      I have such a hard time paying more for something quality. It makes total sense but letting go of the money is so so hard!

  • Reply ErinRocks |

    HI Stephanie! I’m so glad you’re writing on this blog. When I read your back story I felt like I was reading my own story. I have a very similar situation. We are drowning in debt and need to get out and my husband and I have very different ways of thinking about our money. I asked him must a few weeks ago if he thought we’d ever get out of debt and he said “No. I don’t believe that we’ll ever get out of debt because debt is just a part of life.” I’m exactly how you described yourself – stress over the large purchase but think nothing of going to Target and dropping $150 when I know it’s not part of our budget.

    I have faith that we will get out of debt. I work my Snowball spreadsheet every day, dreaming of the day we’ll be closer to being debt free. Every plan I’ve made has us debt free in 18 months….if we could just stick to it. We should have been out of debt 10 times by now if we could just stick to a plan.

    We’re working hard on getting on the same page because I do believe we can get out of debt. I want the freedom to choose what we do with our money and to be free of that saddled and weighted feeling of owing so much to so many. Keep up the great work. I look forward to reading more of your story!

    • Reply Stephannie |

      Thanks, Erin! I have faith in you too! I know how your husband feels, though. Seeing those numbers just creep down can be so discouraging. Since I went back to full time work we have been able to see more of a difference in our numbers but before that there were times that I just wanted to give up. Stick with it, you will get there!

  • Reply scarr |

    My husband and I have the same feelings toward debt: that it is bad for you because it keeps you tied down. We did, however, have different ways of handling money when we first married. I came into the marriage with some consumer debt that we paid off quickly but also with a new mindset to budget and save money. My husband never had debt because he loathes debt, but he never made plans for his money – no budgets, no goals, no significant savings. He never spent all of his money, but he didn’t really keep good track of it either. We worked together to make us both happy. He now loves to be part of the budgeting process and loves seeing our savings account grow. I like telling our money what to do because for so long I was a financial mess and I just don’t want to go back to that, and my husband is similar to your husband, he sees that if we save and remain debt-free we can retire early. I admit that is a bonus 🙂

  • Reply Joe |

    I’ll say that your husbands approach shares some similarities with my own (not always buying the cheapest thing, hoping for early retirement), but I would gently remind him that high interest rate consumer debt is not compatible with the early retirement goal. It’s just wasting money.
    Using bank money as leverage can be a good thing (home purchases are the most common example), but that is not what credit card debt and car loans (usually) are about!

    Either way, it’s great that you guys have talked through it and ended up with the same goal, regardless of underlying motivation. There is no question in my mind that after you guys are debt-free you will be in total agreement that it was the right path to take and well worth whatever sacrifices it took to get there!

    • Reply Stephannie |

      Thanks, Joe! He doesn’t think using the credit cards is good but he’s all for home loans. I want to be totally debt free but he wants to buy more rental properties in the future.

  • Reply Nov62 |

    Hi there! Just wondering if you’ve ever read Mr. Money Mustache blog? Might be a really good one to get your husband reading! Lots of guys there with his attitude – they want to eliminated debt, start to save so they can retire early and enjoy the good life. I flippin love this blog. There’s even a “forum” where you can go and read/ask questions/answers. So much good information here. And you are with a group of people who are all wanting the same thing – financial independence. Check him out if you haven’t already!

    • Reply Stephannie |

      No, I haven’t heard of that blog before. Thanks for the suggestion, we will definitely check it out!

  • Reply Mary |

    I admire couples who are on the same page financially. I think that is hard to do. I think it’s great that you have a common goal. Being debt free gives everyone tremendous freedom to do whatever they want. In addition, it’s great to have savings so you can live worry free. It takes tremendous discipline to get out and stay out of debt. And every penny counts.

    When I was married, we were not on the same financial page and it was stressful. Now that I am divorced, we are still close but I am always thankful that we aren’t married because of his spending habits. He has a lot of credit card debt and loves the latest electronics. I worry constantly about having enough money and saving money. I try to buy quality items that last a long time. I keep my budget out at all times and work on being very disciplined with my money. I have a small credit card balance right now (under $500) and am working on building my savings back up after buying a home last year and having a lot of repairs. I have some medical bills coming in soon so I’ll need money for that. Being on the same page financially is huge. Congrats to you both.

    • Reply Stephannie |

      Thank you, Mary! Congrats on the home and good luck building that savings back up!

So, what do you think ?