Save or Spend? Who Decides?

Well you’ve done it! You’re now at a place where your debt is under control. Yes, you are still paying off your mortgage but your revolving debt – credit cards and car loans – has been payed off.

Financially stress free marriage, right? Well, maybe not. Many couples have been blessed with enough income so that they have little to no debt. And the debt they do have is easily handled with current income. But unfortunately, many of these couples still fight about money. How can that be? What’s to fight about? They don’t have problems paying their bills and there are no bill collectors hounding them to make payments on past due obligations. So what is there to fight about?

Michal Zacharzewski

Michal Zacharzewski

I have found that the couples who have little or no debt worries, still can have enormous tension over how to spend what they do have. Who determines what amount is spent on what? Who decides when and if and how much to save? Do we spend part of our income on a special vacation? Do we remodel the kitchen? Do we build a new deck and get a hot tub? What about that new entertainment system with the 60 inch TV and surround sound? And of course, the new car. He has always wanted a new Mercedes and after all, it is a very reliable car. And the family has grown, so they need a new SUV to handle the back and forth to school, trips to the coast, and camping each summer.

And we really should get that new ….

You get the point… The wish list is endless. And again, experience informs me that usually one spouse is leaning on saving while the other feels that saving and never spending leaves Jack (or Jill) very sad. One spouse is saying WHOA WHOA WHOA! and the other is saying GO GO GO! Life is frustrating if we can’t spend some money on what we need and want. Certainly we can spend some of the surplus? We don’t need to live as if we have nothing extra each month because everything has to go into savings. How do we decide? Who gets to decide?

Spend some time in the next few weeks thinking and talking about how spending decisions get made in your family. What roles do each of you play in these decisions? Are there particular purchases you have fought about in the last few years? Do either of you ever have negative feelings when a purchase is made by your spouse? Talk honestly and with a willingness to work on making your relationship better.

Next time we’ll look at several tactics to help with planning when you have enough and you are challenged as a couple on how to spend or save.