Money Magazine is profiling Michael and Brittany Abbate. Here is their situation.
The couple used to have a total annual income of $135,000 to support them as well as their daughter, but thanks to a move from Chicago to Phoenix and a pregnancy, they now make less than half that amount. Due to the pay cut, they’ve used $11,000 of their $15,000 emergency savings just for regular expenses.
Without giving too many of the details within the article, he’s a spender and she’s a saver. The article gives five tips for communicating with your partner when money issues arise.
I’m not an expert when it comes to relationships; in fact, every relationship I’ve had until now has ultimately failed, usually because of issues having nothing to do with money. I don’t think that the only way to have a successful relationship is to have the same spending philosophy as your partner. Although sharing the attitude does help to get both individuals are quickly on the same page when it comes to spending and saving, openness, communication, and willingness to compromise are much more important in my opinion.
* Think big picture. Decide on important goals and make decisions that are in line with those goals.
* Give each other financial space. Combine most of the income into joint accounts, but keep a small portion separate. The individuals should have the freedom to use an agreed-upon amount however they see fit without consulting the other. This is great for suprise gifts.
* Swap roles. Usually only one within the relationship will be the one maintaining the books. Let the pilot hand over the controls to the co-pilot for a while to increase understanding of the financial situation.
* Schedule money dates. The article’s author says it’s better to plan ahead and choose a time to speak about money-related issues than to bring them up at an inconvenient time. You can use the meeting time to review progress, to plan ahead, and to address any issues.
* Get help if you need it. Sometimes disagreements about money aren’t really about money, they’re about control. Consider seeking a financial planner, a marriage counselor, or a combination, if compromise continues to fail.
Published or updated August 23, 2006.