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April 15th, 2008 at 04:37 am

I have read lots of blogs that discuss finances, and so many of them rave on and on about how they (the writer and the spouse) are a team. They have a great financial goal, and they are headed full steam towards that goal. Over months and years you can see them, working together, achieving that goal.

But what if you are married to someone who doesn't share your financial aspirations? Or someone who pays lip-service to mutual goals but is unwilling to make sacrifices to achieve those goals? What if you are married to someone whose financial strategies cause you a great deal of discomfort? And is unwilling to work out a compromise with you? That is the unfortunate position in which I now find myself.

My quest is to figure out how to make myself more comfortable with our finances while not starting a cold war in my home, and to discover how to achieve financial goals without cooperation from my husband. (Those who are married are shaking their heads in disbelief.) I'll also add here that, while I am frustrated with my situation, I'm not trying to make my husband UNcomfortable while I make myself comfortable. I really feel that this would be the wrong-spirited way to take care of my problems.

We aren't doing too badly financially, really. We own our own home. We have a modest income. I worked until our daughter was two, then left paid employment to be home full time with her. She is now eight, and home schooled. We have no debt but our mortgage and pay off our credit card every month. Neither of us are big spenders.

But - we still spend monthly a little more than we make monthly. How is that possible without massive credit card debt, you ask? We had savings when I left work, and DH receives a bonus each year that is a percentage of his annual income. Some of this money was spent on things like insulation, a furnace and new windows. Some of it was spent on groceries. Some of it was spent on frivolities. Most of my work savings is gone. Most of this year's bonus, paid in December, is still sitting around.

Additionally, we are in our mid-40's without much saved for retirement. This has me extremely nervous. I don't expect Social Security to be around when I'm 70. I am watching our parents and their friends age. . . become less healthy. . . need help with daily activities. Someday this will be us. Aside from trying to take the best care of my health that I can, I feel we need to be more aggressive in saving for our old age.

Right now I don't have any formal goals. A goal can be measured, right? I just have a mission, and no matter how I word it, it sounds a bit selfish, but it's still my mission: to look after my own personal comfort in the areas of the amount that is spent each month and retirement savings. Goals will eventually follow.

19 Responses to “Introduction”

  1. debtfreeme Says:

    welcome! There are lots of people who can give great suggestions. Take what works for you and your situation. These people are truly among the nicest you will meet.

  2. baselle Says:

    Welcome. Right now I see that while you are holding up your finances and net worth are slowly deteriorating. Shoring them up for your family is a noble first goal on its own. Tell us a little bit more about your DH. What drives him?

  3. Maismom Says:

    Welcome! You're not alone having a spouse who has different financial value. I'm right there with you. I like to contribute to 401K as much as I can. My DH freaks out saying he will have no "spending" money. I gave up making him frugal. At least, he doesn't make a huge amount of debt, and making monthly payments to his toys. I quit worrying about things I cannot control. Instaed, I focus on my own goals.

  4. 76Chick Says:

    Welcome! Smile

  5. Blue Eyes Says:

    Welcome!! Glad you joined this community!!

  6. Broken Arrow Says:

    Welcome to the blogs.

    I don't know who these "teams" you've read about are, but I personally believe that these couples are in the minority. The sad truth is, a lot of couples simply are not on the same page. Financially.

    Fortunately, not all are so terribly polarized, and even if they are, I think there are ways they can reconcile if they really want to.

    But the bottom line is, it's not easy when you're not on the same page....

  7. Nic Says:

    Welcome! If you don't already have a PERSONAL savings account,start one today. Put a little aside whenever you can. Join in on the $20.00 challenge and challenge yourself to find creative ways to save.
    See if your husband will join in. Perhaps all it will take is a common goal...a small vacation, a new toy for him. Good luck.

  8. merch Says:

    I think I might be one of the minority. Me and my wife are a team. All of our financial information is transparent and we decide together where our money goes.

    It wasnít always like that. I can remember times yelling at my wife about her spending too much for groceries (she didnít use coupons or buy sales items). She would you yell at me for buying breakfast, lunch, 3 $4 coffees at work everyday.

    Then our son racked up about $20k in medical costs and switched health care to the tune of $1,250 a month. Needless to say, ends were meeting, barely.

    Then me and my wife had the talk. We were both uncomfortable about where we were. We came up together with what our financial future would look like. What are our goals and dreams?

    Our first goal was to create some financial stability (eliminating debt and building and EF). Our next goals will be to save for retirement (which Iím doing anyway) and save for college.

    Me and my wife want the same things in life. (Of course I want a new BMW M5 and she wants a beach house.)

    The only way we could do this was to get on a budget and each do our part to reduce are expenses. My job is to keep track of the budget on a day to day aspect. Itís not uncommon for me to call my wife or her to call me and say that I might go over on this line item. So, we decide that weíll take money out of the clothing or vacation budget to cover food, but itís a decision together. But once a month, we do sit down and look at how things are going, where we are with our goals, what we want to achieve next month, and any big expenses coming up.

    Now, we werenít always like this, but the budgeting together really helped and forced us to communicate. So I guess what I am saying is you need to have that talk and discuss what you both want to accomplish and what are your fears. Then you can discuss how to get there.

  9. Petunia Says:

    Thank you all for the welcome!

    Baselle - I have a good idea of what drives my husband. . . but I don't feel comfortable discussing it at this time. Thanks for your encouragement!

    Maismom - Glad to have your company! I have just arrived at the point where I'm going to focus more on my own goals. I can't handle as much drifting as we've been doing over the last several years.

    Broken Arrow - I suppose it's true that couples who are on the same page financially are in the minority. I'm still hoping that DH & I could come to something we could both live comfortably with. . . while admitting that it seems unlikely we'll ever be headed for the same goal.

  10. Petunia Says:

    Nic - Thank you for the encouragement! I actually do have a (small) savings account, mostly funded by Christmas and birthday gifts from my mom. I'll look into the $20 challenge.

    Merch - Thank you for sharing your history. It's great that your financial crisis brought you and your wife together. A crisis seems to either bring people together or tear them apart. Merch, if I could get my husband to talk about what he wants out of life and what his fears are, that would solve about half of our problems, and I'm not just talking about the financial ones. Believe me, I have tried. And tried. And tried. After beating my head against the wall for several years I have finally arrived in the place where I am now - persuing goals on my own.

  11. homebody Says:

    Welcome Petunia. Don't lose hope. DH and I were so different financially for so many years, but now finally we are on the same page. We will be married 30 years this year. Bottom line, he hates being told what to do!

  12. sagegirl Says:

    Hang in there Petunia--focus on your personal goals and give it time with your husband. Hubby and I had lots of conflict in the beginning, but we are slowly becoming a team. His current lay off has forced us to communicate more openly about finances and it has been good progress for us. It takes time and maybe if you set a good example, he will come along for the ride. Best of luck!!!

  13. miclason Says:

    Welcome, and good luck!

  14. JanH Says:

    Welcome! "Drifting" was a good word that you used in a reply. That is definitely where we were a couple of years ago. Hubby was the only one with the realization that retirement was coming. I am finally on the same page, but we're still digging out. Good for you for seeing the light! Small changes help to solidify your goals. We look forward to reading more from you!

  15. PauletteGoddard Says:

    Hi Petunia:
    My spouse isn't always right there with me financially, and that is occasionally a source of stress. What results have you had with helping him identify a goal that the two of you would have to save up for? Or keeping a regularly monitored chart or visual map of what you'd like to accomplish, or what your net worth is? It can be frustrating to be talking/expressing/sharing, but not be comprehended or well understood. Have things gotten to the point where outside counseling help has been considered?

  16. Petunia Says:

    Homebody - thank you! It's helpful to hear from someone who has been in a similar position. I'm so glad that things worked out for you. Maybe I just have 15 more years to go.

    sagegirl - sounds like a crisis pulled you and your dh together as well? I'm glad things are working well for you.

    Paulette - DH & I were working together when we bought the house. . . that was 11 years ago. I have had no results in identifying or working on mutual goals with him since then. Our problems run pretty deep. We did counseling four years ago. I don't feel comfortable discussing the details of it here, but it didn't prove fruitful. I appreciate your suggestions; I may try to put more information in front of DH, but in small bites.

  17. Ralph Says:

    Since my M.O. is to put in comments on ancient posts, here goes! (I like to look back at the introductory posts.) I have the exact same problem. Luckily my wife and I have SOME financial similarities, in that we both grew up in very modest means so we know that living frugally is necessary, and we both definitely focus on our kids, so thank goodness we have that in common. But where we differ is I want to "teach my kids how to be poor", i.e. to live WELL within their means, where she is more focused on giving them what she never had as a kid, which is how we have raised them (since the woman always wins outSmile), with the debt to prove it. So I look forward very much to sharing techniques with people in this situation.

  18. Petunia Says:

    Hi Ralph! I wouldn't say DH and I don't have financial similarities - we also grew up in average middle class households. I think the difference is I want something more from life (and went to college and worked in corporate America for 10 years to earn it) and DH just doesn't. So things like planning for the future (from vacations to retirement planning, and anything like what we'd like out of life or in 5 years) are a real challenge for us. What I'm working toward is a financial life that works for both of us. I think so far it's mostly worked for him and not for me.

  19. daybyday Says:

    I haven't blogged about it, but my husband and I are not a team either. He's pulled some doozies. I just keep plugging away and do the best I can.

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