till debt do us part.

23 03 2010

i know a lot of different kinds of people, and with this knowing of people, i’ve seen a lot of different strategies for dealing with money.  i’ve seen your penny pinchers, spend thrifters, shopaholics, saveaholics, debt deniers, moderation whores… and some other hilarious combinations that i’m too tired to come up with right now [insert yours here]. anyway, in the rainbow of money management, i’ve seen a lot of people with vastly different financial styles, end up in bed together. for example, me- big spender, heavy debt-er, just trying to figure out the abcs of financial responsibility. on the other hand, the boyfriend- hardcore miser and compulsive money hoarder. despite never having made more than $30k a year, he came to the relationship with no student loans, a house downpayment worth of savings, and a secret stash of CDs (not the music kind) quietly gathering interest in banks all over town.

so how do 2 people with such disparity of appreciation for money figure out how to cohabit and purchase property without tearing each other into bloody bloody shreds?

1. honesty. i told the boyfriend about my debt up front. every last penny (it was messy display). i also let him know that i was working hard to get rid of it, and assured him that unless he won the lottery, it was going to be my responsibility to pay it off comlpetely. i think it was important for him to know that i wasn’t saddling him with my debt, and also that i was learning my lesson and that i wasn’t going to go apeshit and bankrupt us in the future (probably).

2. division. presently, we each keep separate savings/checking accounts. we each pay half of all shared expenses (there’s 2 checks in our cable bill every month), and take care of our own individual expenses. someday we may choose to combine our finances, but for now, it’s a comforting assurance that we aren’t bickering over who is spending more/too much/not enough.

3. compromise. when we decided to buy the condo, i obviously had jack to contribute to the 10% down. he on the other had 20% just hanging out in a bank account. the decision was that he would put 10% down, and when we got our $8,000 tax break back, he would keep it all. not a 100% return, but decent enough. also, even though he had the down payment, he still needed my good credit (777! despite my debt), and earning power (i make more than he does) to get the loan. just because i don’t have a lot of $$$ in the bank, doesn’t mean i’m completely useless. we are true cosigners, and i think that’s important.

4. give and take. dating someone with such obscenely good credit (in the 800s!) and saving ability makes me want to be better with money. i want to be debt free so that we can have a nice life together on even ground without him ever having to feel the crushing weight of my debt. meanwhile, although he still doesn’t quite fit into the “big spender” category, the boyfriend has learned to loosen the strings on his scrooge purse a little and enjoy some of the nicenesses that money can bring (while still being completely prudent). before me, he used to spend $7 a week on groceries- WITHOUT COUPONS (hand to god he was just that fucking cheap). now, i can occasionally cajole him out to a really amazing $50+ dinner. i have helped him see the value in paying for experience every once in a while.

does your spending style match your mate? or am i alone out there in crazy mismatch land (hey, at least one of us has some money…)?

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12 responses

24 03 2010
chris

what? what were you going on about? i’m still trying to take in that woman’s wedding dress. her plastic surgeon must be proud!

24 03 2010
bessmarvin

yeah. that picture is exactly what happens when you google image search for “trashy wedding”. i wonder what her dad’s take was on the gown… can you imagine walking that down the aisle!?

24 03 2010
Lynn

Yeah, we’re a bit of a mismatch over here too. Hubby likes his lunches out and coffees and golf, whilst I am mostly a miser. They say variety is the spice of life and all. Sometimes it’s maddening for both of us and we tend to polarize each other a bit– I think neither of us is as extreme as it appears, we’re just different. I’m occasionally learning to ease up, which is kinda cool. Plus sweet bride boobs.

24 03 2010
bessmarvin

that is indeed a sweet sweet matrimonial rack. and did you notice the “scrooge purse” mention? that one was for you. i wonder if having mismatched financial styles is more the norm than the exception? i should take a poll.

24 03 2010
Lynn

I was psyched to see the scrooge purse shoutout! Perhaps it will become part of the frugal blogging lexicon. I would imagine it’s probably pretty normal since most of us are somewhere along the continuum and almost everyone I know has things they’re willing to splurge on that might not make sense to others. And dear god how did your boyfriend manage on $7 a week for groceries? My husband could squeak by on that but it would mean he was dinin’ out for 36 meals a week. I’m impressed, and I kind of want to see his meal plan.

26 03 2010
bessmarvin

we need to start compiling the “new frugal dictionary”, and scrooge purse is definitely our first entry. i’m pretty sure the boyfriend survived on $.99 bread, cheap peanut butter, and lots and lots of pasta. with zero dining out. i’ve loosened him up considerably, but he used to be insanely/psychotically cheap. like being nourished wasn’t worth the money. he’s learning, but slowly.

24 03 2010
The Coupon Goddess

Well, since I’m a stay at home mom, I’m a total drain on the finances. I contribute only my money stretching skills to our financial big picture. And considering I saved over $50,000 last year, I consider that more than enough to justify my occasional Chanel or Coach purchase. 🙂

25 03 2010
bessmarvin

if they don’t already, your business cards should say that saved your family over $50,000 last year. that is hella impressive! if there was ever a feat that deserved a chanel reward, that is most definitely it.

28 03 2010
Jennifer

BTW…have you seen the show “Till Debt Do Us Part”? Love the show. I believve it comes on right before Suze Orman. We are kind of opposites here too. I’m the saver, he’s the spender. The only debt I have from month to month is Student Loans. just under $60k. EEEK! I have an MBA to show for it. He, on the other hand, has about $20k in student loan debt, and no degree. I’ll probably have mine paid off around the time he pays his off.

28 03 2010
bessmarvin

no! sadly, i don’t get cable. but if it leads into suze, how could it possibly be bad? after i wrote that post i ended up talking to a lot of different people about it, and it seems that the mismatch is far more common than couples with similar spending styles. just be glad that all he has is student loan debt (and not heinous credit card debt like me). it’s tax deductible! (nice work with the MBA, i’m jealous of your advanced schooling!)

29 03 2010
Jennifer

I wonder if you can catch the show on HULU??? Its a lady in Canada, she cracks me up. It basically portrays couples in debt. Makes me feel better about our situation. I think I left out that my other half DOES have credit card debt that he carries month to month. He has yet to give me any final totals, but I would bet its aroundf $10-20k.

My MBA was a personal goal. I got pregnant in college, and according to my family I wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans. I was determined to show them something different. My first job after it I ended up making $20k/year more than before. You would think I would be able to pay off the debt quickly. But how come the more you earn, the more you end up spending?!?!? Ughhhh.

30 03 2010
bessmarvin

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! i looked everywhere and couldn’t find any episodes online, and i’m willing to go to some pretty shady websites to download things. your other half and i sound like we have a lot in common! my sister and her husband actually moved in with his parents for a year while they paid off her debt (about 15K) together and saved a house payment. that’s actually really sweet and probably the kind of teamwork that makes the most financial sense for couples… but i just can’t do it! i have too much guilt, and i feel like my boyfriend would be resentful of me for life.

you are so right about how more money just means more spending! i make twice as much as i did in my 20s, but i don’t feel like i have more money at all! plus, now i have to deal with the fear of losing my income level and having to go back down to the bottom! the economy is terrifying right now.

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