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…)?