My husband and I are celebrating our first date & wedding anniversary this Friday and I'm feeling a bit sentimental. So, I'm going to tell the story of how we got on the same page about our finances. Romantic, right?
A little background: nine years ago we had our first date, one month later we signed a lease, three months after that we were engaged, and then married three years after our first date.
When I met my husband, he was a spender. No, that’s an understatement, he was a big spender. He spent a lot on everything and often. He made good money and smart investments, but at the end of the day he should’ve had more money socked away (granted that could be said of me as well, but that’s another story).
I’ve been cheap for a long time and it’s ingrained in everything I believe and everything I do. Don’t get me wrong, I splurge on some things, but I splurge with intention.
It was apparent early in our relationship that our spending/saving habits were very different and it was going to be an issue. We had to get on the same page about our finances. We both knew that it wasn't going to be easy. And I can't speak for him, but I knew that we had to address this immediately, especially considering how quickly our relationship was moving along.
I still remember our first big fight about money – it was about a glass of orange juice. Have you ever noticed that a tiny glass of o.j. at a restaurant is around $5, but you can buy a half gallon at the grocery store for $2.50? My husband hadn’t and he didn’t appreciate me bringing it up at breakfast during our ‘we just started dating’ weekend getaway. He argued that he likes o.j. with breakfast, so he was going to have o.j. with breakfast. I argued that it was a huge waste of money and just because we want something doesn’t mean that we should get it. It was not a romantic weekend.
We learned a lot about each other that weekend…We huffed and puffed…We talked and talked…Then we moved on. He admitted that my argument was logical, but he didn’t care. I learned that this approach wasn’t going to work.
It was time to do some deep thinking. I asked myself, “Why do I save? How do I justify depriving myself of wants on a daily basis?” The answer was simple, travel. The more I saved on the things that I didn’t really care about, the more I had for travel later – a longer trip or a nicer trip.
I knew that I couldn’t marry a man that didn’t enjoy traveling with me. And I figured that if he loved traveling as much as I did, he may refrain from impulsive purchases and expenditures in order to save for adventures abroad.
I decided to test my theory. Our first international trip together showed him that dreams can come true: we spent three weeks in Costa Rica jumping from one surf spot to another and staying at guesthouses on the beach.
Hook. Line. Sinker.
My husband-to-be started to question his big ticket purchases: electronics. He realized that $500 on a new shiny electronic toy will only bring him a small amount of fleeting satisfaction, because it's outdated almost as soon as he buys it. He now sees that same $500 as a plane ticket to another adventure.
And the orange juice...he orders it when he really really wants it, but more often than not, he refrains because the white pineapple in Costa Rica tastes better than the glass of o.j. ever will.
Lesson learned: Don’t tell him. Show him how it can be better.
- Leah Schonlank
Finance Gym offers personal finance coaching in professionally facilitated peer-advisory groups.
Are you ready to reach your financial goals? Get motivated. Get support. Get results!