What to Do When You and Your Spouse Have Differing Financial Goals

To top of money stairs with key hole and skyMy fiancé and I are getting married in less than two months. We have already set up a pretty nice life together, and have made some pretty big financial commitments jointly. We bought a house in 2012; we both have fulfilling careers and we have two little dogs that we consider fur babies.

Despite our intertwined lives financially, we hadn’t combined finances up until recently. We knew that we would at least partially combine our finances when we were officially married, but when we were making our combined budget before going to the bank and officially combining, we hit a bit of a road block when we realized that we have a huge disparity in our financial goals.

My fiancé’s financial goal is to save up money for incidentals and emergencies (over and above our current fully-funded emergency funds), and then buy a really good truck and perhaps a boat with anything extra that hasn’t gone toward retirement or the emergency funds. My financial goal is to save up enough to travel extensively (such as an around-the-world trip or maybe volunteering abroad for a longer period of time).

We’ve known that we have had hugely different goals since we started dating almost 7 years ago but now that we are tying the knot, we are becoming more aware of it. We have been brainstorming how we can do both while still pooling our money.

Have an “Allowance” 

I’ve always fought against the idea of giving ourselves each an allowance to spend on what-have-you. I have never liked the principle of an allowance (it seems too child/parent and not like something a couple who is working together on their finances would partake in), but it may make the most sense.

We’ve decided that we are going to have a certain amount of money each month to save or spend toward our financial goals. If it’s $200 each, then I could put that $200 toward a future travel fund, and he could put it toward his own goal. That way, we won’t feel like one goal is being perceived as more important than the other.

Compromising is Key

Compromising is something that must happen in any marriage to make it work. I would have loved to quit our jobs, rent out the house and travel the world for a year with my fiancé, but he’s not into the idea and so I will be compromising on travelling for shorter periods of time, sometimes with him, sometimes without.

He will be compromising on the toys that he wants to buy. I have never been a supporter of buying new vehicles, because trucks and cars are not assets; they lose a big portion of their “value” when they are driven off the lot. He will always need a truck for work as a carpenter/contractor, so he can buy a used but nice truck to save some cash.

Allocation of Side Job Earnings

When I get a goal in my head, especially one like travelling, I will do all that I can to make it come to fruition. I work a lot of hours outside of my 9-5 day job to make extra money so that I can make my dreams come true. That money that I make goes toward my goal, since it’s my extra time and work that goes into it.

My fiancé values his free time more, so he can spend his free time doing what he likes to do. He isn’t as committed to working extra to reach his goals more quickly, so I give up my free time for the earnings and he gives up the savings for his free time.

I don’t think that either of us should have to give up on our financial goals just because we are getting married. We are fortunate enough to have good jobs and decent earnings, so we can both reach our goals with a little give and take.


What to Do When You and Your Spouse Have Differing Financial Goals — 4 Comments

  1. I’m a big fan of the allowance, or “blow money” which each person in a relationship is allowed to spend on what they want no questions asked. For some of the goals you and your spouse have, however, the compromise route will have to be the key as it would take a pretty big allowance to pay for travel, a truck or a boat. 🙂 Each person in a relationship should be in tune with the wants and needs of the other, and WANT to help get them.

    • I think it’s important to support each other in one another’s goals, certainly; we have savings for discretionary purchases as well, and normal travel savings; the “blow money” would just increase the rate at which we save for them : )

  2. I’m totally with you on the long term travel and volunteering. There are people who have actually made money traveling for longer periods of time because they rent out their US home and live somewhere else much cheaper.

    As far as your fiancé, maybe you can run a financial ‘analysis’ for him. You are so right that trucks and boats are not assets as both depreciate. Even worse, they are actually liabilities because it takes a lot of money to operate and maintain.

    Also, maybe suggest to your fiancé that he reads the Mr. Money Mustache blog. That is a great resource from a very manly perspective.

    Good luck! Financial issues among couples is never easy! 🙂

    • I think that it’s okay for people to like their toys, and my fiance is one of those people. He’s always liked toys and he’s pretty smart – he knows they aren’t the best use of money! He’s good with money, we just have different goals 🙂

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