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It seems like lately, everywhere I go people are talking about money.  On blogs, at work, my family and friends… Maybe something is in the air?  Maybe it’s a coincidence?  Maybe it is the recognition that the holiday season is coming up and that means expenses.

It seems like within long term relationships, there is always the “spender” (that’d be me) and there is a “saver” (props to Hubster).  But the facts is that if you look closely, there are times I make really good financial decisions (I just finished changing our car insurance/renters insurance to save us over $100 a month!) and times that Husbter does not make such good decisions (spending money on energy drinks and pipe tobacco)  But I think that what a lot of it boils down to is what money means to us.

A mini history: I grew up upper-middle-class in a suburb of Seattle.  While I was not as wealthy as some of my classmates who got BMW’s when they turned 16, I spent my fair share of time at the mall.  I never went without.  My parents impressed upon me to dream big, and if I try hard enough I can achieve anything.  If I want something, I figure out how to get it.  I make it work.  End of story.

Sometimes it’s a good thing; it has gotten me through school, has enabled me to make several large moves, motivated me to find a job.  It keeps me going on our dreams of having a family.  But sometimes it is a very bad thing; I drive when and where I want without worrying about gas, I bought a horse (that was several years ago…), if I want something I go and get it.  Even when we can’t really afford it.  Because money is more than this simple numbers addition and subtraction.  For me, having money isn’t the goal, the goal is whatever I want that I need money to obtain.

Hubster grew up on a cattle ranch.  They didn’t have “extra play money”.  They barely got by.  Money was something you were very very responsible with.  You worked hard for that money and paid your bills and kept a roof over your head and food on the table.  To not prioritize wasn’t just irresponsible, it was immoral because it meant hurting the people you loved.  As he got older his parents financial situation improved and now they have a beautiful house in Montana with horses and all sorts of fun things.  Their budgeting has paid off in a really big way.  But the fact is, even for him money is not a simple addition and subtraction game.  Having money means responsibility, morality, security.

The two of us have spent most of our relationship fighting about money.  We would get into this spiral of me hiding my purchases, him finding out and getting pissed off, so I would feel scared to approach him about me buying anything and hide my purchases… We would go through times where he threatens to take my debit card away (and I can’t blame him) and then we go through times where we are great.  Right now is one of those great times.  We talk about what we want to spend before we spend it.  We actually look at our bank account.  We are paying out bills on time.  I’ve been trying to put my finger on what happened that led us to better communication abut money, better spending habits, actually budgeting… I think a lot of it was seeing our therapist.  Realizing over and over that our feelings are valid, allowing us to talk about how we feel without getting defensive or angry.  And then being able to say “I may want to spend a lot of money… but I want to pay my bills more.  If I don’t really need it, it can wait until my next payday”.

But I know that we are going to have to continue to talk about money, and will have disagreements about money.  This is an ongoing process.  And I think that just recognizing that helps me to feel less stressed out about it all.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Mmmmn ears are burning! Both Mr Stinky and I grew up probably what you would class ‘working class’. I’m not sure about the ins and outs of his childhood but I think money was short. His parents now seem reasonably well off, not loaded, but big TV, handouts to both their sons etc.
    My parents instilled a poverty mentality in all of us, if we ever discuss anything with them, the first thing they ask about is ‘how much’ and ascertaining whether we have been ripped off, and if they have bought something, its always held up as how little they spent. as a result, I never really got massively into any hobby, although was never ‘held back’ either. But I would have been a lot more into photography I think, a lot earlier, had I access to developing films without bankrupting my piggybank etc.
    I’m aware this is part of my upbringing and try and make a distinction between whether my response is ‘conditioned’ or ‘genuine’. I have no qualms about paying full-price for something, I believe that you get what you pay for most often. I have lived on very little money, and 7 years ago was living on lots of money. feast or famine.
    This is the difference with me and Mr Stinky – if he had had that money, we would not be using it now, it would have been spent. It is because I saved, I had a 3 year old car, would go out for meals and pick up the bill for everyone, bought good quality clothes (that I am still wearing!).

    I think its about awareness, of what things cost, whats actually necessary, and how much you are actually spending on things. I can rationalise whether I actually need somethngn or not, or to get it at a later stage, or save up or whatever. Mr Stinky will buy it, and something else, put it on the credit card regardless of whether he can afford it or not. And while we are living on minimum wage, when it comes to the discussion of travelling to the other city for egg retrieval and collection, and how we are going to pay for flights/accommodation/transfers/food, and he says everytime “oh I have no money” THEN it is a problem and it is not just HIS poor money management, but its MY problem as well. Because by me, or his parents more likely, paying for it all, it is enabling that behaviour, and there are no consequences for that, just a reward, really. And then our kids grow up seeing that, and not really learning about the value of money or cause and effect. And we sure as shit won’t have the funds for their subsequent counselling.

    Sorry, that got VERY long and I probably should have written it in MY blog instead, but hey, its something I have been giving lots of thought to, as you know, and I thought it fitted here. And I owe you a long comment, surely!

    Reply

    • Oh no, I hope you don’t think this was all about your blog! I seriously have had conversations with my nanny boss, my mother, my friends… it seems to be on everyone’s minds right now.

      I think what I was TRYING to get out, although I probably missed the mark, was how Hubster and I balance each other. He keeps me grounded, he keeps me thinking ahead, and I push him to dream and have fun. Of course I’m sure in a few months I’ll be on here ranting about him being tight with money or something lol.

      The really fascinating thing though, is when I do call him to tell him about an expense (such as the vet trip this morning with Radar) I have a tendency to still being really defensive and nervous that he will get angry, but he was so calm and rational. I’m hoping that my anxieties will eventually go away as I see him being understanding about necessary expenses.

      And I always love long comments 🙂 I feel bad I have a tendency to be long winded in my replies, but I enjoy reading long replies for my blog.

      Reply

      • No, it wasn’t all about me??? Why not??!
        Nope I know you cruised past my blog, I just reckoned you’d read that and heard similar umpteen times anyway.

        Thats good to have that balance, and it does go through waves and cycles I know. I’m sure we do similar in our relationship most times. I’m all for ‘necessary expenses’, but loading up your CC with cake and coffee and food out every day because you’re too lazy to organise yourself properly – THAT’s when I have a problem! I see that defensiveness in DP too!

        Good, cos I do long-winded best. Although I figure I should have posted in my blog first – that tends to get SOME of the words out of the way

  2. I think about this a lot as well… my husband and I have VERY different philosophies about money. (he’s a spender, I’m a saver, except i’m SUCH a saver that I feel “justified” i guess by big purchases – things like dining room stools for $1k – where I never give him leeway b/c it seems so wasteful… golf trips and the like). I dunno, money is a hard deal…

    Reply

    • that’s funny, because since Hubster is the saver he tends to feel justified in his “small” expenses of soda etc. even though those small expenses can add up.

      I think what’s important is just being able to talk about it, you know? Couples disagree on a lot of things from money to sex to how to raise kids; it’s not that you be in agreement all the time, it’s that you are able to handle the disagreements in a way that doesn’t hurt each other.

      Reply

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