Publicado en El Pais, August 10th 2019.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about problems couples have when it concerns money. One of the aspects are the spending habits of both. No matter how much the spouses love each other, certain habits and preferences will always be different. Differences that probably caused you to fell in love could, however, also be strong bases for big fights. Certain hobbies and preferences are more expensive than others and people value things different. For example: some people are willing to spend a few hundred dollars to fly to see their famous football team playing, while another person wouldn’t even switch on the tv to see the same game. Spouses are different with different preferences. So how to deal with it?
First off all, why are the spending habits a problem for the spouse? In most families the money is a scarce resource and it is always a challenge to make the ends meet and to have all the bills paid at the end of the month and excessive spending can get the family into troubles. One of the first things we teach in family economics class is to make sure that your budget is in balance without any deficits. Shortages at the end of the month might get one nervous and the reason why excessive spending habits cause fights. Many people don’t like the uncertainty to run out of money.
Second, maybe the couple just didn’t agree on the necessity to save something at the end of each month or for what to save. Are you saving for a holiday, a new car, to start a business or a new house? Or maybe you just want to have some extra savings just in case. Having your objectives clear will make it much easier to talk to each other about big expenditures that reduce the savings at the end of the month. It is easier to convince your loved one to not spend on something that is not really necessary if that brings the dream vacation or dream house closer. On the contrary, just forbidding or a fight about the expenditure will make things only worse.
So before getting into a complicated argument, first accept that preferences are different. Second some people really need financial stability and can get scared when ends to do not meet. Last make sure that you talked about the future financial objectives, dreams, emergencies or retirement. Talk about the expenditures and see what is best.