Mr. FW and I on a hike
Mr. FW and I in our favorite setting

“Frugality is so awesome! Now, how do I convince my spouse/partner to get on board with it?” Mr. Frugalwoods and I are asked this question almost daily and I was all set to write some windbaggy mellifluous literary masterpiece in response. The only hitch is that I have to confess my honest answer is “I have no idea.”

Mr. FW and I struggle with plenty of other hurdles in our marriage, but we’re fortunate that we’ve always been on roughly the same page as far as frugality and our financial independence goal are concerned. In fact, we’ve found that frugality brings us closer by enabling us to eliminate the distractions of consumerism and instead focus on our relationship.

This question usually comes to us contextualized within someone’s inspiring story of discovering the incredible benefits of frugality–which extend far beyond the mere monetary–and their desire to implement frugal approaches throughout all spheres of their life. The challenge arises when one member of a partnership experiences this frugal awakening but the other does not. Since running a household, raising a family, and planning for the future all require the input of both partners, how does one reconcile divergent financial methodologies within a relationship?

Frugality has brought us closer
Frugality has brought us closer

What I’ve discovered is that financial goals and life goals are essentially the same thing. Knowing what you want out of life and what you hope to achieve over the course of it is inextricably linked to how we manage our money. It’s nearly impossible to divorce the two and hence, having misaligned viewpoints between partners is likely a recipe for discord. Or is it?

Given how unbelievably uninformed my response to this query is, I figured I’d put the question to the smartest, most frugalist people I know: you the readers! In the future, I hope to refer folks with this quandary to all of your amazing comments.

And so, I want to hear your stories, thoughts, opinions, and experiences related to how you brought a formerly spendy partner around to frugality. Or, how you blissfully cohabitate with a partner whose spending proclivities are markedly different from your own. What are the challenges, pitfalls, and rewards of aligning financial outlooks with your partner? What tactics and strategies work best in convincing a partner of the myriad joys that frugality brings? Or when do you navigate a means to amicable but separate finances?

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  1. I’m in your boat. Mr. Budgets are so align when it comes to our money goals and being frugal. But I honestly believe that is the secret to financial success, being on the same page with your spouse. For those who have partners who like to spend I guess I would ask that spouse what their ultimate life goals are. Do they want to be able to travel more? Do they want to retire before 65? Perhaps showing the spouse on paper how they can achieve certain goals much quicker if they become more frugal. Definitely show the spendy spouse on paper how much they are spending monthly in different areas and how by continuing to live like this will only hinder their life goals. I would also start small, don’t go and try to make cuts in the areas that are most important or of value to the spendy spouse. Focus on certain areas that perhaps the spendy spouse wouldn’t mind or notice if frugal hacks were being made.

    1. Completely agree! I dont have a spouse but I have a friend with big hopes and dreams, but she doesn’t see how her messy financial life is inhibiting her from reaching her goals. I always feel like I come off as pushy whenever I try to broach the subject. All my talking has obviously been ineffective however as it hasn’t yet moved her to the point where there’s change in her financial habits. You say it so simply here though, maybe sitting with her, putting pen to paper, helping her run the numbers for herself might be more effective. I’ve shyed away from this in the past cause I wanted to respect her space, I felt like this might have shifted some balance in our friendship but now, I think this might actually be one way for the message to stick.

  2. Honestly, it’s not easy. My partner and I keep our money separate. We both work hard and don’t tell the other one how to save or spend. However, I’ve noticed that some of my frugality has rubbed off on him. And perhaps I’ve changed my perspective, too. I think that happens naturally when you’ve lived together for several years. Slowly, you learn to compromise about spending money.

  3. Haha, I’ve also been trying to write about this, and realizing I don’t know the answer! I believe it’s important to view your spouse or SO as a teammate, even if you don’t share exactly the same financial views, rather than competing over resources and fighting about who gets to spend more. Sometimes people justify their expensive habits or tastes by citing their spouse’s spending, but that’s just doubling the problem. Ultimately you can only control what is in your power, and your spouse doesn’t really fit in that category, though we like to think they do!

    1. This is so true: “your spouse doesn’t really fit in that category”–we really are not in control of one another! I very much like the teammate mentality. I once heard someone say that marriages would be a lot happier if both people realized they’re on the same side 🙂

  4. Hi FWs!
    I have been an avid reader for a few months now, but never seem to get to the comments. Of any blog really….
    My Wife was the frugal one. Neither of us grew up without money stress in our households. It was a topic of debate, and fighting unfortunately, in both of our households from a young age. My Wife, being from MA, had this lead her towards minimal spending and saving money where she could. For me, a Washingtonian, this meant blowing through greenbacks like an asteroid was going to hit the Earth the instant I started making real money. Getting paid once a week did not help the situation.
    This was ameliorated over a decade and a half of difficult work and paradigm shifts on both of our parts, leading to ME being the super frugal one!
    It was very important that my Wife let me come to this on my own. Never one to henpeck or hassle, she would make salient points and wait for them to penetrate the thick bear skull of her Hubby and eventually become lodged in the the massively active and intelligent cortex she knew was in there. Open ended questions abounded:
    “How long will the credit card take to pay off?”
    “What did that money go towards?”
    “Are you sure you want a car payment?”

    She never TOLD, but she always ASKED.
    My best piece of advice would be to know your partner. Trying to appeal emotionally to a super analytical and logical Husband is never going to work. The converse is also true of course. Also, realize that you can’t force someone to change, and even if you could it would not take. People must change of their own accord in their own time. Feeling like you made the change YOURSELF is quite possibly the critical part of the whole deal.
    While I know her gifts to me have been legion, the gift of helping me get my s#1t together financially has been perhaps the greatest.

    Before: Living in a house bought at the height of the boom on a 3% down loan, no savings, 2 brand new cars with loans, 1 Harley with loan.

    (Years and years pass, further mistakes are made, mistakes are remedied, future mistakes are avoided)

    After: Living in a tiny house I built myself on my Parents property, newest vehicle is a 1996, zero debt, 80% +/- savings rate, 3-5 year plan to move to Spokane (way cheaper than Seattle in all ways), own outright a tiny downtown condo in Spokane with a renter in it until we decide to move there.

    Thanks Honey……..

    1. Oh, Russ this was a great post and made me laugh! Also, a huge help when you said “appeal emotionally to a analytical and logical husband”. This is my scenario, and I now realize I’ve been doing it all wrong. He doesn’t “get” emotions so much, and now I know I must use cold hard facts to get my point across and into his equally thick bear skull…I call it a concrete block! Thanks for your comment.

      1. Thanks Bev!
        I hope a change in tactic is helpful. I think the default setting for most men is that emotions are something individual to each person but may not cause a reaction or effect on our side of the fence. But facts are facts, and math is math the world over. The first big breakthrough for me came when I made a list of all of OUR expenses….. and saw huge payments for MY truck and MY Harley. Those were the only expenses on the whole list that were not a shared item (mortgage, food, etc). I had them both sold within a few months.

        1. Thank you for sharing this, Russ! The open-ended questions tactic seems like a very wise approach. Makes sense to get the other person truly thinking through their spending decisions and how those are affecting the household’s bottom line. And, I think you’re absolutely right that people have to want to change–and ultimately make the change themselves–for it to stick and be a positive, productive decision.

    2. I realise this post is years old but your comment has really helped me! Not even just with finances but your point that Feeling like you made the change YOURSELF is quite possibly the critical part of the whole deal’ makes so much sense when wanting your spouse to change something

  5. I totally agree that your financial goals align with your life goals. If you and your spouse are on the same page with your life goals, I would think it would be pretty easy to get on the same page with your finances. My husband and I, while we didn’t always prioritize saving, have always been on the same page with finances, too. My advice would be to talk and figure out a compromise. If your wife insists on buying coffee and eating lunch out, why not see if you can come with a spending limit each week. Likewise, if your husband has an expensive hobby like shooting or golf, set a monthly spending limit. You can’t deprive your partner nor force them to not spend money, so my only advice would be to set limits that you’re both comfortable with!!

    Great post, Frugalwoods!! Excited to read the comments 🙂

  6. I look forward to the answers because I have yet to really bring hubby to the frugal side. I think some of his issues stem from a childhood of not having enough (not having enough to eat, not being able to have Christmas etc.). I have made some tiny steps in getting him to cut back a bit in areas, but we are far from frugal!

  7. The commitment to love each other, and the commitment to share life don’t necessarily mean sharing the same emotion for your life goals.

    For example, my husband and I both want me to be a stay at home mom, and we both want him to finish school (full time). It’s not easy reconciling what could be conflicting goals. This is actually why we budget every month- to bring up whether or not we’re happy with our progress towards our shared goals, and to figure out how we can “spend” (or invest or whatever) towards achieving competing goals.

    I’ve talked about it a little about these challenges on my own blog.

  8. Have to confess, I’m the one needing convincing. However, when I really realized what it was all about, I discovered I am fundamentally where you are. It was my former spouse who was interested in saving money for its own sake and that is what I rebelled against. Just to give you a quick example: When we lived in a fairly wealthy suburb of Detroit, I really had no money of my own other than the grocery money. Yes, antiquated system of partnership – but that’s another story. I wanted to decorate the house. It was the first Christmas there. How would I do it? Well, I packed up my baby at the time (while everyone else was in school) and went to rob the Jesuit cemetery of all the pine cones I could find. Next, I brought them home and took to the basement. No one really went down there but me. I spend hours making really neat door wreaths and then, I packed up my baby and went deep into the suburb – where I didn’t think anyone knew us – and sold them door to door. I kinda laughed because I didn’t realize how much like a hippie I came across. It didn’t hurt. I made over $600 – plenty to buy what I needed to make Christmas presents, decorate the house and buy those gifts I could not make. So, that year, as with some of the others, I didn’t really spend a dime on Christmas. It all was money that no one knew I had, or in reality should have had.

    1. While I certainly don’t agree with your ex-husband’s behavior, the silver lining is that it certainly did bring out your creative / entrepreneurial side.

  9. This topic hits so close to home. I can’t wait to read more answers. Unfortunately, all is not so “aligned” between myself and my SO. He loves to work and doesn’t have plans to retire, spends freely and can not understand why I don’t want to drop $30K on a new car every five years, “because you know the trade-in value is going down every day.” I have never had a new car and doubt I will ever have one, my 13 year old car is just fine, thanks. And I plan to retire, asap (6-8 years)!

    So how do we do keep it together. The only way I know how, absolutely separate financial lives. He has his, I have mine. He wants to marry though, and I just do not see that happening. I keep hoping he will “see the light” or follow my example. I fear I am fooling myself here. But I can hope. I am looking for nuggets of wisdom here…. help!

    1. I do know folks who have completely separate finances in marriage and they’ve worked out a system for operating. And, we’re getting some helpful responses here from wise people who’ve been through it, so I hope there’ll be some salient advice for you!

      1. Thanks Mrs. Frugalwoods… I’m reading all these comments with interest. I love the one from Russ! Analytics/Math may be the best way to go for me, along with open ended questions. Great ideas!

  10. I have a frugal spouse in training. Here are a few things that worked for me:
    1) Find a goal. – Saving to save is boring. Saving for a purpose is awesome. I love being frugal because it allows me to stress less, travel more and take risks when I want to. He’s onboard with these.
    2) Optimize when you can’t cut out- There are great ways to be frugal with all the options today. Store brands v name brands, discount cell carriers v the big 4. Shop around for insurance. Introduce them to the glory of the library. Many people can’t see that it all adds up in the end. They see it as only $5 or $2 or $10. Gain momentum on your own where their experience doesn’t change. Then when they say it’s only $10, you have proof to the contrary.
    3) Accept and celebrate gradual change. It’s not going to change overnight. They may never be as frugal as you, but any step in the frugal direction is a win. With positive reinforcement, it will be a lot easier for change to happen.

    1. Gradual change is a great point. It’s not going to happen immediately for anyone–it certainly didn’t for us either.

  11. My husband and I are basically on the same page financially, but he is into more gear-requiring activities than I am. I love hiking and running, and have found great shoes and clothes for both those activities at the thrift store, and I’m set. He loves rock climbing, mountain biking, skiing/snowboarding (he’s got gear for both), and in the recent past he decided to give up – at least for a while – SCUBA and windsurfing. He does approach all these activities with a pretty frugal mindset (he buys pretty much everything used and looks for reduced-admission deals on skiing, and climbing & biking places are often free), but even so, he ends up spending more than I do for recreation.

    We’ve had good conversations about this – which prompted him to sell or give away a lot of his gear for SCUBA and windsurfing – and we’ve come to a place where he just has a bigger line item for recreation in the budget than I do, and we’re both okay with this.

    If I wanted to try to make things “fair,” I could probably figure out something I could spend more money on too, but in the end, I would just be sabotaging myself. The way things are now, we’re both reasonably happy – he gets to have his adventures, which exhilarates him and makes him an interesting and pleasant person to be around, and I still have money to funnel towards extra mortgage payments, keeping us on track to pay off our mortgage in two years so we can ditch full-time jobs if we want – and that’s exciting for me!

    (Just to give an idea of how much spending we’re talking about – so far this year he’s averaged about $40 per month on his activities, and I’ve spent maybe $40 total on good running and hiking shoes/clothes I found at thrift stores – so nothing like some couples deal with.)

    1. Julia, my husband is the same way. I think he might have six pairs of skis in our basement in addition to all the other accessories! We decided to implement a purchase wishlist where we write down all the stuff we want instead of buying it. It has worked like a charm to curb his gear spending (and my clothing spending). Maybe it would work for you, too

      1. The “write it down” approach works really well for us too. We often find that after writing items down on a shopping list and letting it sit for a few weeks, it turns out that we end up not really needing them after all. Helps to articulate the need and then consider just how needed it really is.

  12. I recently faced a similar issue. My husband and I have always been on roughly the same page about our finances, but about a year ago I had a nagging feeling that we were spending too much. I asked my husband to work with me to track our spending and figure out where we could cut back. He said that we didn’t need to do that because a) we were saving a lot despite our spending and b) our retirement would primarily be affected by how much money we made rather than how much we saved. So what turned him around? Math! We realized that if we wanted to be financially independent soon, we would need to save 40 x more than our yearly spending. Thus, by decreasing our spending, we could reach the 40 x goal sooner (I wrote more about this on my blog if you want more details). And just like that, he was on the money saving train. Another thing that helped was turning it into this kind of game. It’s us against the consumer world, and we’re trying to see how much we can decrease our spending. It’s surprisingly fun!

  13. I’ve been lucky. My wife is not a shopper and is generally a pretty frugal person. However, I’m even more frugal and could easily forego a lot more than she could in a heartbeat.

    This is tough predicament… if one spouse is a spender and one’s very frugal, I don’t think that’s something that can easily be fixed. That really comes a lot with upbringing and can be very hard to change. Sometimes I actually have a hard time that my wife is not as frugal as me. And I’m pretty dang sure that sometimes it bothers her how conscientious I am with money. For us though, we’re not too far off, but I think if your financial goals are very dissimilar, it can actually harm your relationship.

    — Jim

  14. The bottom line is that you cannot “get” someone to do something. Ever. You can’t. Stop trying. With a whole lot of listening, you may be able to get more on the same page. More listening than talking. Read the communication chapter in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People–Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood.

    Our success story: It was a happy day at my house in early 2014 when Mr. FP agreed to sell his beloved CRV, getting us out of a car payment and freeing up the equity to… pay off my student loans!

    1. That probably pretty much sums it all up: you cannot make someone do something they don’t want to. So very true.

  15. I could write an entire post (or two) on this topic! It’s definitely a work in progress in our household, though our habits have become more closely aligned with time. I wish I had asked my husband more questions that would make him think about spending habits…that would have spared us a lot of heated disagreements! I definitely think HOW you approach your partner is key. People often come from very different financial backgrounds so it’s not simple to make the other person see $$ your way. And sometimes /oftentimes, it’s good to see their viewpoint as well so that you can save and enjoy spending your hard-earned money!

  16. Unfortunately, my ex-husband and I never managed to find a path forward on this issue. He was the uber frugal one; I had an obvious tendency to spend more on clothes and entertainment, but still saved a lot and paid off all my consumer and (massive) student loan debt during our years together. Though we kept our finances in separate accounts, I created a master budget for all our income each month and gave him periodic updates as to our progress. Despite my Herculean efforts, and for reasons that are complicated and also a little mysterious, I was never able to shake his presumption of me as a spendthrift. It was agonizing and ultimately one of various reasons that led to the decline of our relationship. After we got divorced, it came as such a MAJOR relief to be able to manage my money without all the constant negotiation and scrutiny. At this point, nearly five years later, I continue to strive for a frugal lifestyle, as I find this aligns with my general life ethos – live simply and minimally, be mindful of the earth and its limited resources, save money, and plan for the future. But I can’t stand the idea of feeling deprived or controlled, and I still value my financial autonomy everyday.

    So, for all you couples out there, I would urge the more frugal one to be kind and patient with your less frugal partner. Communicate regularly, show respect, and acknowledge all efforts, big or small. Keep your eye on the forest; don’t fixate on minutiae. Finally, consider your own assumptions and projections as you navigate and discuss your financial issues – it can be so tempting to paint your partner into a caricature that stems from your own perception, without observing the growth and change that can occur so gradually in a person over time.

    1. Thank you for sharing this! I think it’s very true that no one wants to feel persecuted for their choices (financial or otherwise) and it definitely doesn’t help to badger them about it. And, I like the idea of observing gradual change over time–that’s pretty key!

  17. We are much more on the same page these days than when we first met. And both follow FW posts avidly, which helps!
    But other relatives (on both sides, but more on OH’s side) can be quite challenging and some just don’t get it. So here’s hoping for some ideas to handle those tricky relatives too.

  18. This is something we are working at every single month. And no matter how difficult it has been, we have kept working at it. In our household, I want to be frugal, but fail when I’m tired. So I need good systems. My husband is good day to day, but likes to make big purchases more often and wants to use “extra” money for fun things, not for furthering our financial goals.

    We recently had some major breakthroughs though:
    1) Budgeting “personal” money for each of us, so budgeting doesn’t feel restrictive
    2) Cutting eating out as a category – either the person who wants to go out takes it out of personal money (above), or if it is a special occasion, it will come out of entertainment.
    3) Agreeing that groceries is a big problem, which means we continually experiment with groceries. We are finally getting our groceries below $400.

    A couple of key things have helped our communication to get us to this point. Most importantly,we communicate about our budget and spending check ups via email, so we can do it at our personal convenience rather than when we are tired and cranky after work. We used to fight every month at the budget meetings because they were held grudgingly.

    Looking at the budget categories individually means my husband actually sees all of the categories… which has made him more aware of spending.

    Not feeling deprived because of personal spending categories + actually evaluating the budget meant that he finally got on board to using YNAB (You Need a Budget). YNAB is an extremely effective tool at auditing spending and making you prioritize purchases, so this has taken us to a new level of saving and debt repayment each month.

    We’ve been working at this since we combined finances in August 2012, but really actively working at it since July 2014.

    1. This is fantastic, Brooke! Congrats to you for figuring out a system that works well for you both. I like the idea of communicating via email–like you said, then you can review the information when you’re in the proper mood to.

  19. My wife & I are both frugal by most people’s definitions, although she would call me stingy. I tend to look too far out & have to be reminded that you can spend a little money (our entertainment budget isn’t $0 but it’s not far from it). You learn that experiences are more worthwhile than things, homemade cards are better than store bought, and you spend on money on getting to a location for quality time instead.

  20. I think part of the key is realizing that you may each have different things you think are worth splurging on. Mr. and Mrs. FW are fortunate that they both essentially believe in being frugal about everything. My husband and I are generally on the same page about finances but agree to disagree about some expenditures and just leave it at that. I spend a lot on fancy groceries, and he spends a lot on nice clothes. We can’t change each other’s priorities too much. So while I know that a successful marriage is a partnership (no expert, I’ve been married exactly 1 week), it’s also a compromise and a commitment to respecting each person’s individual values and priorities. Given that money is supposedly one of the top things married couples argue about (and even divorce over), I think it’s safe to say that this may just be one of those really hard areas to agree on! I know I sound defeatist, but I think it can be a real difference in fundamental values for some couples.

    1. I agree that respecting one another’s values and priorities is absolutely crucial. I think beyond just finances, that respect translates into a more productive and fulfilling relationship writ large. Congrats to you on 1 week of marriage! All my best to you for many happy years 🙂

  21. I think the key is realizing what each other’s key values are when it comes to money. Identify what brings the most joy to the two of you. Is it spending money on a special experience? If so, how can you spend as little money as possible but still have an ever lasting experience?

  22. I was the spendthrift in our family. Because my husband and I made six figure incomes, I spent money anytime I wanted to. I have a lot of expensive hobbies and my husband has encouraged me to spend what I want. About six months after reading your column about not buying anything except essentials for a year, I decided to do the same thing and LOVE it! I have made charitable donations of many things I have accumulated, or have someone selling them for me online. Some hobbies that I did in the past, I am no longer interested in. I have been married twenty years and my husband and I took a financial planning class together early on. We also had our wills written, which is where it really got interesting financially. We had to make big financial decisions about our future because I have one child from a previous marriage and he doesn’t have children. We got it all done. We have written our financial, business and personal goals each year and talk about them throughout the year. Six months ago when I stopped spending on anything except necessities, I realized that my husband was the frugal one our entire marriage. For instance, he got a pair of his dress shoes re-soled instead of buying new ones. He did break down and buy a new pair of athletic shoes last month because his current ones were four years old and in bad shape. We went shopping at an outlet mall and I window shopped to my heart’s content, but we didn’t buy anything except athletic shoes for him. He asked for an AARP discount and got 20% off My husband needed a new pair of dress pants and I got them at Goodwill! I love thrift shops, but for the past six months, I’ve just window shopped there. Our toaster broke and I am putting that on my Christmas list, since my family always needs ideas for us. I’m getting very frugal. We incur credit card debt each month for the credit card rebates, then pay it off in full every month. My husband and I are a young 65 and 60, respectively. I retired from a Fortune 20 company ten years ago and became a Realtor. I’ve now semi-retired. If I had the choice of earning more income or spending less, it would be spending less. Luckily we are pretty well set for retirement. I believe couples should sit down before marriage or co-habitation and talk about money and financial plans, which we did. Couples need to set yearly goals, which we did. I have updated a one page net sheet each year of our marriage.

    1. What a wonderful story of finding the joys in frugality! Thanks for sharing this. I like that you two set annual goals–that sounds like a wonderful way to ensure you’re always on the same page throughout marriage.

  23. I don’t have an answer either! I’m the saver, he’s the spender. But I can tell you something that I’ve noticed with our relationship. Example: recently we bought a new car (yeah, I know, don’t go there), but, when we started the negotiations (a pain the …. by the way), I finally said to him, forget this baloney, let’s just pay cash for it. Since I handle the finances, he looked at me and said..”can we do that?” I replied that we easily could, and the reason for that was because I save!!! He was astounded, and the best part was that we were now back in control in the dealership, and we weren’t begging for credit. Later, we discussed this, and I told him this is just one of the benefits of being a saver. So now, I hear him now and again talking with pride about how we don’t have debt (thanks to me, but that’s another story) and how bad debt is, blah blah. Long-winded story short….I believe when you can show someone with concrete actions what having money in the bank can really do for you, it makes them think twice before spending or accumulating debt. He was so proud that day, and when that title arrived in the mail shortly thereafter, he had a grin from ear to ear! We still have a long way to go, but we’re working on it. Hope this helps anyone out there.

    1. This is a great example of actions being more powerful than words alone! That’s wonderful he was so excited to learn you could own the car outright. Definitely an empowering illustration of saving!

  24. My husband is a work in progress. I’m definitely the frugal saver and he is the spendy pants. Slowly but surely, he is getting better. He used to go out for breakfast and lunch almost daily. Now he takes his breakfast every morning and his lunch 3-4 days a week. He recently agreed to cut the cord and go without cable, and he says he doesn’t miss it at all. Woo Hoo! We don’t go out to eat hardly at all any more…only for special occasions. He is definitely on board with our investment strategy and our plans to ditch our mortgage quickly. So, he is getting better, but on occasion, he feels he has “earned” the right to buy himself something that is totally unnecessary and typically somewhat expensive. Baby Steps. We are making progress and though we jumped on the band wagon a bit late, we should be able to be FI in less than 9 years.

    1. Recognizing those gradual changes your husband is making is awesome. A lot of folks have commented on the importance of acknowledging incremental progress in a partner and it sounds like you’re a pro at that! Congrats to you both :)!

  25. This is something that my live-in boyfriend and I have struggled with to a degree. I’ve actually found that writing my blog, which he reads, has been really helpful since it gets him thinking about money. He isn’t a spendthrift, he just doesn’t spend as much time thinking about money and trying to save money as I do. Once we have a conversation, we are always able to find a middle ground. A lot of the time, when he gives spending a little bit of thought, he seems to change his tune!

  26. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get past the dating phase with anyone who couldn’t manage their money. If it caused me heartburn before I didn’t want to take it in to the marriage hoping that it could be better. I’m not saying habits can’t change, but better to talk things out and have a good idea of money philosophy ahead of time. My wife and I are on the same page and continue to work to save money and learn to invest. When we see the bottom line and the results it really helps us to grow together and know we are co-CEO’s in our house.

  27. My wife and I are relatively close on our money views and we have frequent “meetings” about our current and future situations. That being said, she is a bit more of a spender and I am a bit more of a saver, but just by a slight bit. So we try to complement each other…I occasionally help her rein in her spending tendencies and she occasionally helps me splurge a little. I think if there is a large divide between the spouses, it could create a lot of conflict and resentment. While I haven’t been in that position, I would think the best approach would be to find your shared values and goals, and then talk about how to accomplish them.

  28. Love the post! Although I’m in my early twenties, my partner and I have been together 3 years and are in it for life. I’m the super spendthrift who loves to count every single penny and save as much as possible. My partner on the other hand, is less extreme. HOWEVER, I love the “treats” ($10 candles, the occasional meal out, etc) my partner buys for us, haha. So I imagine that when we combine finances, we’ll naturally reach a middle ground. The other option we’ve talked about is keeping finances separate. Which could work for awhile, but not necessarily for the long-term with things that will inevitably happen like kids, one of us taking time out from a career, etc. I think the other advice in the comments pretty much sums it up: talk about long-term goals and plans. The big topics that can usually create change are travel & freedom from the 9-5 grind. Luckily, we’re pretty much on the same page with those things and have a 5-7 year plan to create a lifestyle where we split our time between London and Southern California (the places we are each from) So I have a feeling that as we work towards our goal, the underlying principles we agree on will allow our finances to naturally fall in place 🙂

  29. My husband and I began to jointly save money assign as we became engaged. I was raised by a frugal mom and a spendy dad- fortunately mom was the money manager. I was an uber saver by the time I stated making good money in my early 30’s.
    My husband was raised by parents who were spenders and poor money managers. His lack of savings/frugality had more to do with never learning how to manage money and save and less to do with his desiring a fancy lifestyle.
    He began to routinely hand over money for our joint savings even before we married- he was shocked at how quickly we amassed money- and became excited when we reached various savings goals. Fast forward 15 years-he leaned that we could live a happy, experience-rich life while watching our spending.
    I think what won him
    Over to the frugal side was the freedom that comes from not stressing about our finances.

    1. That’s fantastic, Kim! Seems like the experience of showing instead of telling was key for you and your husband. Congrats!

  30. I am convinced by my husband to be frugal aside from him being an accountant and because I need to so that I and my husband would provide a better life for our kids.

  31. When I first moved in with my boyfriend he had to ask me to lend him 2000 CHF. I did that well knowing that in the worst case I would never see the money again. But it worked out and I got the money back and my being frugal helped that he would spend less money. So now we are both saving for a house, which will cost a lot, but we are on a good way. I still save a lot more than him, even though he earns a little bit more. Currently I’m trying to teach him thinking about the future. If we would have children we will only have left one income because either on of us stays at home or you pay around 2000 CHF per month for childcare for one child. As my boyfriend would like to have 2 children that will be a lot of money. I already made several plans to circumvent this problem, but he is still thinking that there will be something like a magic solution.
    I was raised always knowing what my parents had to pay for everything and therefore knew when money was thight. When I was old enough I helped my mother fill out the annual tax declaration. She was usually in charge of the money, but my parents worked together in this area. My boyfriend grew up in a poorer family, never knew how much money there was and still got everything. A short time ago his parents had to sell their car, because they had not enough money.
    Christmas with them was strange. We did some kind of secret Santa and you were expected to buy a present which would at at least cost 100 CHF. I was very fortunate to not know that before Christmas, so I bought some books. Homemade things don’t count as presents there. So I’m thinking of gifting some financial books next time. 😀
    So in conclusion I would say just live your frugal lifestyle, it’s at least a little bit contageous and if you have a goul it is even easier to bring frugality to your partner.
    I hope my comment is understandable, even thoug English is not my nagive language.

      1. I think having a shared goal, or goals, is a crucial part of having a good financial relationship and understanding with your partner. Sounds like you two are well on your way to creating an awesome life together!

  32. I had started taking this FI thing seriously about the same time I met my GF. So she has been along for the ride while I have read, learned, read, started my blog, etc. She is 100% supportive which is great. She thinks its great that I’m so serious about FI, and also has started gaining similar aspirations. I think as long as you’re open and honest about the subject, and being frugal, the other person can listen and either agree or disagree. There is no convincing I don’t think, but laying out the facts will definitely tell you if they are willing to join the journey. I think it’s all about finding the right person (which takes a lot of luck) and then realizing when it’s not going to work (if that’s the case).

  33. This is one of those things if you knew and could package it up, you’d be a billionaire.

    In terms of my DH, he was a bit of a spendthrift and knew nothing about money when we got married. I pretty much took over the big stuff (how much can we afford to spend on an apartment, etc.) Then we did a lot of trying to figure out how to make him happy with his spending given our budget constraints (which is how we hit upon the adult allowance for him– he either spends everything or nothing, and allowance allows him to spend everything without feeling miserable). Because I love him and really do want to maximize his happiness. It also helped over the years when his brother had to move into his parents’ basement for a couple years, and his cousin has made money mistake after money mistake. We’ve always been ok when we get the same kinds of shocks because we have had that emergency fund and no (non-mortgage) debt because we have stuck to buying what we can afford. Seeing that made him interested in our finances too, so it is no longer only my responsibility and he’s more informed when I talk with him about planning concerns, which is nice.

    I don’t know that getting all minimalist and bare-bones is right for everyone. I do think it’s important to listen to a spouse, and if he wants $30/week to buy coffee or starwars figurines and you’re saving a reasonable to big % of your income already, then there’s no benefit to denying that. Spouses don’t have to take only cold showers and live in a trailer unless they want to. It’s when the short-term spending doesn’t fit with the long-term goals (and resilience in the face of emergencies) that there’s a problem.

  34. I think one’s proclivity towards frugality might be like temperament in that it’s relatively “fixed”, except not at birth as much as in emerging adulthood. I’m sure there are opposing arguments (as of course this is one of those timeless “chicken and egg”/”nature vs nurture” sort of questions), but in my observation those that tend to be conservative (not politically) have been so for a long, long time. Both my husband and I come from wealthy families. In my case I was indulged with a lot of material prosperity growing up -considerably more than my middle class friends and classmates- but once I got to my early 20’s I realized it wasn’t the path I wanted to follow. In fact, my grandmother’s longest withstanding memory of me -the LAST one she talked about on her deathbed- was when I was 22 and I leaned over to her while watching my father smooze it up with local socialites at a posh and exclusive 10 course restaurant and said pointedly “this isn’t for me”.
    Subconsciously we tend to gravitate our energy towards that which we want to manifest in our lives and it seemed that every year therein after I sought to reduce waste, increase savings and find simplicity. Frugality wasn’t a conscious consideration a short while later when I abruptly called off my long-term engagement and married one of my house mates (my fiance lived in a different town). I hadn’t really known the man before he moved in but he turned out to be so different than previous house mate. He was gainfully employed as an engineer yet only brought with him a tiny 2-door blue Toyota, 4 blue totes, a blue card table, a blue folding chair and a futon. I kinda made fun of him for it, but I was also intrigued and approving. He was very clean and considerate, especially for a 20-something dude. He liked video games (like, enough to get a PhD in it later…) but otherwise just wanted to be outdoors or in a coffee shop and share in a stimulating conversation. After a few months I began to relish just being in the same space as him.. there was no pretence, no objective, no tension… he would play his video games and I did my homework in silence or in conversation… either way was fine… It was during holiday break and we were separated for two weeks that I realized I didn’t want it to end the following May when I was to graduate and get married. I told him how I felt at a coffee shop the first evening I returned. He politely acknowledged my feelings, agreed, and told me to sort it out… there was no embrace, no fanfare.. just the simple instruction… so I did and 2 days later we were Mr. and Mrs… the funny thing is, he never really told me much about his family. I didn’t realize until we were driving through Mexico City on my way to meet them for the first time that they were, in fact, of the elite class. I wasn’t prepared.. mentally I hadn’t considered class status at all and there I was about to meet my uber wealthy in-laws (relative to average wealth in Mexico) wearing a university marching band shirt and cargo pants.. with flip flops! (early 2000’s folks.. that’s what we did). I’m sure we were ALL thinking “wha-waa???”, but it all made sense at that moment: we were one in the same. My new husband had been like me… he had at some point started down the same path of volunteer simplicity and eschewed the conspicuous consumption and posturing habits inherent to his socioeconomics status. It was awesomeness and we’ve had an incredibly harmonious marriage.

    My ex-fiance had been a spender. He grew up poor, but was granted a free education and had a bright future when we met… he used to gripe every. single. day. about how much I spent on eating out or entertainment. It wasn’t that I was spending more than him: I could just spend with ease… a latte was just a nice, warm drink for me.. it was entirely something else for him.. As much as he got on my case, he was the one who bought a luxury car, consumed a ton of meat and got into debt to buy a house (the one we were renting!) and get an advanced degree. While my life satisfaction index was calling for less, his was asking for more… even if he couldn’t afford it….

    In retrospect we were a poor match to begin with. He was so dazzling and talented.. he was a charmer… but foundationally (core value system, worldview, political and personal economics orientation) we were practically on opposing sides. We both had wanted it to work, we had tried and failed on numerous occasions, never really understanding why… at the end we were probably dragging each other to the alter out of stubbornness and a desperation to move on in life. The reality is in most important ways we were already who we were going to be.

    As time passes I am only more convinced that the tendency towards volunteer simplicity and conservation is more inherent to temperament and early life experiences than anything else.

    So if you’re really struggling with someone… Stop. Find someone else.

    1. Thank you for sharing this! I do think there’s something to the inherent nature of frugality in one’s personality. I think people can certainly change, but as you noted, if it’s just not working, it might never work. So glad that you and your husband found each other! It’s wonderful to have someone you see eye to eye with.

  35. My BF was never a big spendthrift, especially in relation to his income, but dating me has shown him that money is something that can be actively managed. When I got aggressive about paying off my student loans and car loan, it woke him up to the idea that he could do more than watch the monthly payment go into his student loans and mortgage. As I got closer to my goal, I started to talk more about the mathematics that made me want to pay off the loans early, like interest saved and more money each month that I could control. Then, talking through what I would do with the extra money, once the loans were paid off, got him interested in investing. Now we’re both debt free exept his mortgage, and he’s started investing while doubling his mortgage payment.

    Now we’re very comfortable discussing our money plans, even while our life goals are not all perfectly aligned yet. For example, he knows I want to FIRE but he would rather get an MBA (with employer tuition reimbursement) and find a more engaging position. He also tended towards getting take-out to make dinner easier, but my insistence on cooking has led him to pick easy to make meals over take-out more than 50% of the time dinner’s his job. Bouncing ideas off one another lets us know the other’s money style, decision making process, and financial stability. As others have mentioned, talking through things helps frugality rub off on him and in my case, sharing my personal moves has shown him that not paying much can be just as or more rewarding.

    1. I love that you used your own good financial behavior to model for him what’s possible through saving more and spending less. Seeing it play out in person is so much more powerful than just words!

  36. I am glad you posted this because I have been thinking about this a lot lately and I think it is something that needs to be talked about more. My SO and I are not always on the same page but we are at least in the same book. He is a natural saver and always has been which is great. When it comes to spending we have different approaches. I tend to go for the least expensive approach – he tends to go for the more expensive but with an emphasis on value. Sometimes he is right – the more expensive option provides the best value long term. We work through it.
    our top 4 in no particular order –
    1. we talk about goals. Then we see if our behavior aligns with those goals. Sometimes it doesn’t – so we know what we need to change.
    2. we track our progress. This is motivating and can help us see that our choices, even the small ones, make a difference.
    3. My SO is a visual person. If i share a long list of numbers it doesn’t have as much impact as sharing a chart. A pie chart of our spending for the month is meaningful and easy to understand. A chart showing month over month spending shows if we are moving the right direction.
    4. Trust. We trust each other to make decisions on our own. I would run a big purchase by him but on the day to day we just do what we need to do and we can voice our opinion, ask questions without needing to get defensive. Conversations about money are most productive if they are open, honest and fact based and approached as a team effort vs. opponents.

  37. My husband and I work together on saving. I think it helpef that our first ten years we were fairly poor, so every penny counted. We are also determined and like to set both small and large goals. We also try to enjoy the time it takes to reach those goals by staying out of credit card debt and car payments. It is great to see people on here working towards a more compatible marriage by getting on top of their finances!

  38. Hi,
    This is a tough tough TOUGH problem in my household. My wife and I come from two very different worlds financially speaking. I grew up below the poverty line living in housing food poor and food stamps, we would grow a garden and go hunting to get enough food for things, everything was made from scratch because that’s all we could afford. Not only that but a local organization had food boxes we could get once a month per child (5 of us) which we took full advantage of. I don’t feel bad for myself instead I use that childhood as a reason to never be like that again and so I live a frugal life.
    My wife however grew up not rich but they also were not in any type of financial problems. They went out to eat all the time have a nice house and cars and to be honest there is nothing wrong with their way of life just different. Though it has led my wife to want many things that we can’t currently afford so she puts on credit. What we have done now to help pay the bills and have me invest is we have 2 separate accounts (both having access to the other) and we have the bills separated and each of us deal with our accounts and our bills. She loves it because she now spends way more on decorating the house and stuff like that that matter little to me. I like it because she is making sure she has cash for things now before buying it whereas she was just putting it on credit that we “can pay off later”. I use my additional money to pay off debt and even invest so that eventually my bills can all be paid by passive income.

    Hope that helps anyone who is going through the same struggle as me.

    1. Thank you for sharing this, Tyler. I think separate finances work really well for some couples, so I’m glad to hear your story of how it’s making life better for you too!

  39. I think there is often a difference in specific values rather than complete disagreement about finances and frugality that can cause discord, and the way to resolve it is the way to resolve most conflict in relationships: respect your partner and try to see where they are coming from. For example, I knit and my boyfriend plays video games. Video games are not necessarily what I would spend money on, and he would not buy yarn or needles, but we both keep the spending reasonable and let each other be. It’s certainly harder when it’s a joint purchase, but I think the same rules apply, with the addition of trying to meet in the middle. And to echo other commenters, I would agree with being a frugal example yourself and letting that speak for itself.

  40. I was the spender my husband a saver … however my change to saver was not from my husband fighting me to change. It came after my own realization of why a life of frugality and purposeful spending was better than what I was doing. This realization came after my father passed away. He and my mother were recently divorced. My dad had all the debt from the marriage which at the time of his passing totaled over $90k. As the only child I had to handle the estate. There was no real estate. No savings. All of his items were older (TV, computer, car etc) and in need of replacement or repair very soon. Though, had my father lived any amount of time longer he would not have had the resources to replace or repair any of these items or even make the nearly $2k in repairs to his car that were found when the estate attempted to sell the car. So at 49 years old my father could not handle a small financial hiccup/emergency/crisis. As I went through all of this and the grief of losing my dad I realized I wasn’t too far from that same reality. My debt to income ration was not that different and my spending was even more out of control. I realized one night that a few more years at my spending levels and my credit would be maxed out as well. I wouldn’t be able to upgrade my TV or my Car or my computer because I’d still be paying for the one I had. So I decided it was time for some changes. We took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class and I started watching Suze Orman every Saturday on CNBC (which is no longer on)… We did the baby steps for a bit and then mixed it up… So we had our emergency fund before we are debt free and we never stopped our retirement contributions … we made it fit our situation and our comfort levels … And now 4 & half years later we are almost debt free (the last of my student loan is all that remains and will be paid off in the next 4 months), we live well below our means, save for retirement, and plan to buy a condo in next couple years. The reason behind the long story is that its not being able to change someone but about showing them why the changes need to happen and let them make those choices. I was much more willing to give up things in the short term for the bigger picture. I had come to realize how important having an emergency fund was, why I need to live below my means. I had realized that even though my parents owned a home, bought new cars every two years, when married they never had more than $2,000 in savings and most of the time much much less… they had no savings for retirement outside of my dad pensions. I had realized that what I thought was a normal life was a financial disaster waiting to happen… Are we perfect with frugality? No. Could be better? Yes. However, compared to 4 years ago we are unrecognizable in our spending habits. If I need to show my spouse why a frugal life is the best life I would find away to get my spouse/partner to see why the frugal lifestyle is best for our situation and family. Maybe sit down and get on paper when you both would like to retire and how you see that retirement life looking – lots of travel? time for a new art hobby? whatever it is … then from there the saver can go to the multitude of online resources for estimated retirement savings and how to get there. Then sit down with your spouse/partner again and explain what needs to be saved each year, month, paycheck to reach the goal and hopefully that will get their mind thinking about the big picture and bring them to a point to be more willing to try a frugal idea (I would start with one at a time) and I love the Frugalwoods method to try it for 30 days…. and it easy to give something up for a month or longer if it means your goal is reached sooner ….. Having the numbers from the initial conversations I described above would be a help to show how changing spending can effect those dates and make it happen sooner or later.

    1. That’s wonderful that you were able to take a tough situation–your dad’s–and use it to turn around your own spending and approach to money. Congrats to you for creating a more peaceful and successful financial life for yourself!

  41. Lead by example!!!! I am married to a spender, although he is ever so slowly coming over to my side. That doesn’t mean he still doesn’t make money mistakes (purchasing a high ticket item without talking to me first, etc,), but our goals are slowly becoming more aligned. It helps to have common goals, short- and long-term, which makes saving money much more appealing. I’m certain he saw my frugal ways as being boring and that I was really depriving myself of the “life” we could have as a family. But family togetherness in simple, everyday ways is much, much more rewarding, and that is the stuff of memories! As far as my spending criteria: I always look for the best deal, made do with what I had, waited until it was on sale or to be certain I really needed that item, shop at thrift stores, and so on. Thus, he could never criticize me for any financial misjudgments of my own. Also, creating challenges for myself keeps me motivated, and I found out that that can be catching in our household, even our children (no spending for a month, stretching our food budget to include personal care items, capsule wardrobe, learning contentedness, etc). Although it took time and patience, being happy, especially with spending less, spread in our household, and my efforts have, and will continue to pay off!

  42. For years my hubby wished that I could be frugal like him, but then unfortunately I converted him to the dark side of spending. It wasn’t until I realized that the only way to achieve my dream of having my own company to help others that I needed to live more frugally. At that point, it actually took some convincing to get my hubby on board, but when he saw how happy it made me, it was hard for him to live any other way. I think if you and your spouse are truly on the same page about life goals you will support each other in any way, including living frugally.

  43. My partner and I are a new couple – we’re just about to have our first anniversary. Based on my previous relationships, finding the right person is a HUGE part of being frugal (and happy) together. We’re on the same page about saving for a house, shopping at op shops (thrift stores), gardening and living sustainably. We differ in some respects – he cycles to work but buys his lunch because he works in an industrial area and wants to get out of the shed, whereas I catch public transport to work because my work is further away and pack my lunch, but the attitude is the same.

    We also have complimentary skillsets: I love to cook, so I cook 95% of our meals from scratch, and I also love finding bargains so do all the food shopping. My boyfriend restores furniture for a living, so he is fantastic at fixing things and building things, and made us a 10m x 10m veggie patch. He also grew up hers, so knows heaps of great hiking and camping spots that I would never have found.

    We live together, but we have completely separate finances (since the relationship is still so new). We split rent, food, household goods, electricity, internet and date nights down the middle (we use the Splitwise app for this, which is fantastic!), and are responsible for everything else for ourselves. I track my spending religiously, whereas he’s more casual about it, so I don’t know how that will go when we do eventually combine accounts.

    I used to have an ex who insisted he was frugal, but really wasn’t. He refused to pay more than $25 a week towards our shared groceries (I’m in Australia, so costs are high, and usually spend $50 per person per week), and then would come along to the supermarket and fill the trolley with more than $25 worth of junk! Our last Christmas together we agreed to spend a maximum of $50 each on gifts for each other. I brewed a batch of homebrew for him, and bought a couple of other small gifts. He bought me around $200 worth of gifts, including pink birkenstocks (I hate pink!), while he still owed me lots of money. He was flummoxed as to why I was upset, but I would much rather have a partner who is financially responsible than more Christmas presents.

    I have many more horror stories, but let’s just say I’m a lot happier now!

  44. PiC and I were polar opposites when we started out oh so many years ago. He never had to worry about money and I always worried about it. I was maybe 1/3 of the way through paying down six figures of family debt at the time and so while we weren’t married yet, I kept my commentary to talking to him about my money decisions and why I made them and when he showed interest, I shared more.

    His money was still his money at that point but when we realized we were *in most ways* a great fit, our money mentalities had to be too, or we couldn’t get married for the sanity of both! Happily, enough of my care with money rubbed off on him and he paid off his debt and watched his money a bit more. The real adventure was combining our finances AND our still vastly different styles after marriage. It was something like a roller coaster: first we’d be on the same page, then whoooops we weren’t!

    There was a happy medium to be found. For us, that meant extending spending beyond my extraordinarily tightfisted limits to allow things like travel and eating out, but also set savings rates in stone so that we (he) never lowered our savings for any reason short of job loss or medical emergency. Getting there was not so happy, not for a while, but it was the subject of many long drives up and down the coast of California. Some people listen to audiobooks for 7 hour drives. I use that time to torture my captive audience, the dog and PiC, with my latest career goals and flights of financial fancy and he, unlike the dog who just slept through it all, very good-naturedly listened and processed enough so that he trusts me implicitly and now I can do whatever I deem necessary to put our money to work. I won’t ever say that it wasn’t a lot of work, but it also required a lot of patience and two people willing to compromise.

  45. When I first met my boyfriend I Was the spender and he is a natural born Saver. At first I learned It the hard way. When we got serious about moving together he said he would only move in with me if I’d Save X € per Month for a new car. Because he feared that I could not pay my part of the Rent if my 12 Year old car would brake down. (He was so right, but it was horrible to swallow – But I did it, because I love him) I got finally converted when the “unforeseeable” car repair hit me and I could easily pay Cash. It Was such a good feeling! Now I am starting my way to FI at age 30 – Better late Than Never 🙂

  46. Mine was definitely an uphill battle. I had to show my fiancee, now husband, that being frugal would allow us to get ahead. He had defaulted student loans that he thought he’d never be able to pay off thanks to on-again, off-again work. But once I was able to show him that it was possible, he got more on board. Then it was just a matter of getting rid of some of his bad habits. (It’s amazing how quickly Slurpies add up when you’re absolutely broke.)

    It was a long process, and there are still times we don’t agree about priorities. But we did manage to pay the loans, plus the medical debt we ended up accruing along the way.

  47. My SO and I keep our finances separate, that way when we want something that the other does not approve of (ie him a computer worth $800, and me flying off to New York for a weekend or going shopping), we won’t have any fights about it because it is our money.

    While I try to be frugal, I will not deny myself of the joys of travel & also a bit of shopping here & there – however, I still maintain an average savings rate of over 58% a month. Sometimes, it is higher, but never lower than 58%. Him, on the other hand, saves around 40%.

    It is very difficult to change a person, but I agree with the others – it has to be gradual and you shouldn’t be too imposing on your partner or your SO
    Change is hard, even on yourself, so why impose it quickly to your partner?

  48. The one point that has helped bring out the frugality of my wife is that being smart with our money gives us options and choices. The less we spend on the things that are unimportant to us, the more we have to spend on the things that really matter to us.

  49. Reading other people’s comments has given me some hope that if I’m patient, we’ll get a little more on the same page or figure out a happy medium. I can’t complain too much in that we’re both savers, but our approaches are really different. I’ve been budgeting for years, and I have a lot of buckets (perhaps too many) for different spending/saving purposes. My (new) husband has never budgeted before, and is used to having everything in one bucket, in which he keeps a decent chunk of money. He just doesn’t get excited about money issues whatsoever. We paid off his $16K student loan, and he just shrugged afterwards, saying he would have paid it off eventually. (2030.) I felt like I was walking on air when I paid one of mine off a few years ago. He understands that it gives him more options but isn’t excited by that idea at all. This confounds me.

    I’m taking care of finances (with his input), and he’ll do whatever I tell him, but I’d love him to be more involved and interested. We have a goal of buying a house and sufficient savings, but that’s about it. He doesn’t have any other goals in mind, and he wants to work til he dies. Patience is not one of my strong suits, so I want him to be on the same page as me now! I need to get better at not badgering him with how excited I am by budgets or wanting him to be just like me. He saves, and he doesn’t have credit card debt. I’m aware that it could be very different.

    I’m also intrigued to see how the two of us will work this out for the long run.

  50. The baseline is discussion.

    At first when I got into YNAB and Mustachian lifestyle, she was sometimes pissed off because I wasn’t explaining her enough what was my bigger goals behind a simple “No I think we shouldn’t buy this.”
    By discussing and expressing our respective points of view, I became more pragmatic with budgets but she opened our mind as well and surprises me everyday with frugal thinking!

    There are also the facts.
    Recently we bought our first home thanks to our various spending and savings tweaks that we applied since two years.
    This has helped me onboard her as she realized that step by step, we managed to got where we were on our own.

    Finally, the most recent present she offered me was to join all of our finances. Some months/years ago I thought this wasn’t a good idea and also her didn’t think it could work out.
    I ended up making her a Keynote presentation to show her that it was our natural next step in order to consolidate everything on our road towards Financial Independence. Again, communication was key. Also listening, I included and took into account her worries about such a plan in order to fix them – and not only make it work my way.

    That’s it: discussion, communication, listening and time. Give it time. You would like it to happen over night but you can’t change someone else mindset. It has to happen by itself if you want it to be effective.

  51. I think you don’t. My favorite blog is Miser Mom, wherein the frugal author details how she embraces frugality but lets her husband’s spendiness roll off her back. She does take steps to help reduce his spendy ways, like buying meat in bulk to reduce last minute trips to the grocery store for full price steak (or going out to eat). But she doesn’t berate him for every purchase. I love her attitude. The person A can change person A. The frugal partner can lead by example.

    Or, in a different perspective . . . be sure to talk about money prior to getting with your partner. Get on more or less the same page. If you can’t, maybe it’s not the right fit. Our premarital counselor said she’d never had higher money compatability scores than us. We don’t agree on everything, but we talk about all our money decisions, and that helps us have a mutual understanding about how our money is spent. Both of us compromise, and that’s what works for us. Find what works for you and your partner.

  52. We think of frugality as the means, and our major life goal of early retirement as the ends. No point leading a discussion about being frugal with the means — it’s all about the end goal. (I know you guys, FWs, are naturally frugal, but we are not! So neither of us would ever want to be frugal just for frugality’s sake. There has to be an important purpose.) So getting on the same page about big life goals, and what you see for your future is the way to start — not to mention that that’s crucial for a positive, healthy relationship! Once you’re on the same page about the ends, the means fall into line much more easily.

  53. I came into our relationship with about $120 credit card debt and $64k in student loans. Mrs. SSC came into it with a formidable savings account, ~$40k in her 401k (I’d cashed mine out…) and no credit card debt. It was nice being with someone that could handle finances well and had a good relationship with money. It was difficult to adjust for me. We implemented allowances to have done spending money while paying down my debt and mine was almost always cashed out. It took a few years before I realized things don’t make you happy they just make clutter. It is still a struggle for me sometimes but I finally came around. Even with our FIRE type plan it took a good year of her talking about it before I realized we could do it and not live in a trailer park eating ramen all the time. Now I’m on board but I still have my moments. Thank goodness for allowances.

  54. Never discussed money pre marriage and came from different socio-ecunomic backgrounds! Husbands family wealthy but a downturn! Mine frugal, careful responsible!
    Husband in debt! I always worked and took on the responsibility of household! Differing views and goals lead to our divorce! Next relationship discussed finances and goals and both contributed! Found this very satisfactory! Also came from similar socio-economic backgrounds! Relationship lasted! Simple but rich life! Enjoying your blog!

  55. When I first met my wife, she was a big spender and massively in debt. I was pretty frugal. While there were some points of contention around things like how much to spend on the wedding, we actually made it work pretty well. I would actually say we had a “happy medium” for a few years where my spending went up, and hers went down. We honestly didn’t think about it or stress about it much because we were still saving ~50% of our incomes (mostly thanks to high incomes). We were able to pay down her debts in just a few years.

    I had always wanted to “make” her more frugal, but I was also smart enough to realize the futility of this. As a man married to someone that is both a woman and a lawyer, I am realistic about where compromises end up.

    Yet last year, something interesting happened. We both got highly motivated to spend less. We both started looking for areas of our spending to cut back on. She was as motivated as I was. We’ve already cut ~$1,000/mo from our spending without much sacrifice, and can probably find more to save.

    Want to know what happened? We started developing some joint life goals. Money was a part of this discussion, but not the biggest part. We started figuring out when we’d like to retire, where we want to live, and what we want to be when we grow up (you know, after our 30’s). Then we did the math and figured out how we could reach those goals. Once we had a firm goal in mind of where we want to be and what we want to do, we both starting finding ways to save. Neither of us feels like we’re scrimping (well, my wife isn’t totally sold on the clothes line) and we feel much better about our spending habits overall.

    1. That’s awesome! And, that’s very much the trajectory Mr. FW and I followed too. As soon as we had our specific life goal in mind, our savings ramped way up. It’s just so much easier to save at a really high rate when you’re both totally on board and committed. Huge congrats to you both!

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