I’m cheap. Thrifty. Frugal. Penny pinching. Embarrassingly so. I have brought a sandwich to a restaurant, always take home leftovers, squeal about how much I saved on something, and duct tape stuff together rather than replace it (it still works!). I buy shoes at Walmart because they are a steal (and who doesn’t love bright green flats for $7!). I make my own shower cleaner, send away for rebates and free samples, am constantly doing some side hustle to make extra cash, and spend hours making spreadsheets and worrying about money.
My husband, on the other hand, is not. He knows the value of a dollar and he’s not a spendthrift, but he likes to spend money. He would rather shop at Nordstrom, likes buying new things over used things, likes new cars, TVs, video game consoles, phones, and gadgets. He loves eating out at restaurants, ordering take out, ordering movies on demand, randomly taking a weekend trip, staying at a nice hotel, and spending money for entertainment and the pleasure of a casino atmosphere (aka gambling). He doesn’t stress about money in the same active way that I do and accepts that if we can’t pay for something, we can’t get it (though he will still perk up at new car or TV ads).
I like spending money too, but we have different priorities sometimes on how to spend our money. Sure, we agree that we need to have a roof over our head, food in our bellies, heat, light, and running water, but we also disagree on some things. He has taught me to pay more for quality items that last (and for shoes that are well made and don’t hurt my feet). I have taught him to plan ahead and budget our money so that we can pay for our needs as well as some of our wants.
Every relationship requires compromise, and especially so when it comes to money. I am the nerd and make the spreadsheets so I handle writing checks for the bills and entering our receipts against our budget categories. I will draft up a budget for the month and show it to him for his feedback. We have to be in agreement about where our dollars will go and that means we have to talk about it and come to happy mediums where we both sometimes get what we want but not all the time.
So what are the major things we compromise on?
If it was up to me, I would all week with eating very little meat and then only chicken or lunchmeat. I don’t eat as much as him (he’s kind of a bodybuilder) and definitely nowhere near as much protein. I grew up not eating much red meat and don’t crave it, plus steaks and roasts can be pretty expensive, way more so than chicken. He would eat a steak every night for dinner if he could. We have a tight budget so we have to keep groceries reasonable and we don’t go out to eat more than once or twice a month (and then usually with a Groupon).
Our Compromise: I do the grocery shopping using coupons and checking the sale ads to save us as much as possible. I keep an eye on beef, chicken, and other meat prices so that when it is on sale I scoop it up in bulk since it freezes well. We limit restaurants and he doesn’t randomly order pizza so that when we do it is a special occasion. We keep our eyes peeled for restaurant deals, sign up for promotional emails from our favorite restaurants, and buy Groupons so we can treat ourselves on occasion without guilt.
I am a football fan by proxy: I would never have been interested in it had it not been for my husband. Still, I don’t have a deep need to watch every NFL and college game like my husband does. I would be happy with a basic cable package and just watch whatever is on TV or whatever free movies are On Demand, but he loves movies. In fact, we both love movies. We enjoy queuing up a movie, popping some popcorn, and snuggling on the couch to enjoy the film. We also enjoy going to the movie theater and used to go weekly until we saw how much it was busting our budget. Still, I could do without and read instead, but that’s not an option for him.
Our Compromise: We pay extra for the NFL Network and the sports package on our cable network. Otherwise it’s just cruel to deprive him of something he loves so much just because we want to save those few bucks a month. We pay for HBO but no other premium networks. With the amount of movies and shows available on HBO we are set with that and he watches Banshee on Cinemax online using his friend’s account login. We pay just $5 a month for HBO and it’s well worth it for the amount of movies we watch. We also pay for Netflix streaming because it gives us so many options to watch. And when we just have to see a specific movie? We use a Redbox free rental promo code and will go to the theater to see certain blockbuster “they are best on the big screen” movies but only on occasion. We also have a spending limit and always discuss purchases with each other that are over $50 or $100 unless it’s groceries. We are accountable to each other and each have a vote on how our money is spent.
We both have to rein each other in from time to time. I will find a great deal on massages that he will say no to and he wants a new XBox One that I vetoed. Sure, having some fun stuff is important. Remember, all work and no play makes Johnnie a dull boy. But we can’t afford a lot of the stuff that’s out there and enticing us.
Our Compromise: We spend a lot of time at home or doing free and frugal fun stuff. Mardi Gras parades are free and a ton of fun. Visiting with friends and family to share a potluck meal or have game night is a blast. Watching our favorite shows at home, going for a walk together with our dog, working out together, and cooking together are fun and frugal dates. We will spend some money on entertainment when we find fun Groupons for stuff we like to do, get a deal on tickets to LSU football games, or its just an occasional splurge. We also each have budget line items for our own blow money that we can spend on whatever we want that makes us happy. We have a shared “Miscellaneous” budget line item that covers everything from movies to dog food, so we have to agree together when we want to spend some of that money on tickets to a show or save it for a fun trip somewhere. As for clothes shopping, he used to shop at Nordstrom whenever he needed new clothes but I taught him the wonders of Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx.
Your partner is not you and you will have different (and often conflicting) spending priorities, but compromise is essential to any relationship. Some fights are not worth it and sometimes spending that money on a fun experience is essential to your relationship. Everyone needs some fun in their life but it has to be balanced with responsibility. For us, we balance each other out and he encourages me to spend money on things that are worthwhile and I encourage him not to spend on things that aren’t.
What do you compromise on in your budget and relationship?