We recently received an email from a reader who has been married for many years. He said he loves his wife very much but that he is getting frustrated because her spending is not in alignment with his and is threatening his overall success in practicing the Your Money or Your Life program. What should he do?
The truth is that many people have struggled with this issue and have found a variety of creative ways to overcome it. I’ll offer three initial suggestions here. First of all, consider dividing your finances. Many happily partnered couples have three pots of money: yours, mine and ours. This way each person gets to spend his/her money as they see fit and can save as much or as little of it as they like. I personally think it’s most appropriate if the expenses in the “our” pot of money are divided according to each person’s ability to pay — i.e., if one person makes 70% of the income, s/he should pay 70% of the collective expenses like rent, groceries, childcare, etc. The second option is for the partner who is most committed to the program to just keep doing the steps regardless of what the other one thinks. Thirty years of anecdotal evidence in promoting Your Money or Your Life have proven that the more fiscally responsible partner can often convince the other to mend their ways. Your spouse may not ever choose to follow the program step-by-step, but s/he can usually be convinced that having a much larger pot of savings is a really good thing. A third option is to modify the way you’re practicing the program so that it is more palatable to your spouse. Carolyn Hilles did just that with great success as explained on page 68 of the new edition of the book. Carolyn says that it came naturally to her to track every penny of her spending, but not to her husband. She decided to adjust her expectations and devised a new tracking system to better suit him, such as using round numbers instead of accounting for every dime. Although the unaccounted-for cash at the end of each month used to drive her crazy, she noticed that her husband started to watch that number too and, over time, began to try to get it down to a trivial amount. Have you struggled with this issue? Do you have ideas on how to overcome this common problem? If so, please share your stories in the comments so others can learn from your experience.