• Reader Question: Financial Transparency for Couples, Part 3

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    This post is part of our week-long series on Creating Financial Transparency for Couples.

    3. There are two different spending styles at odds.
    Jay says that his wife perceives his attention to her finances as evidence that she is a spendthrift. My guess is that she probably has good reason. It sounds as though Jay may be a saver while his wife is a spender. When these are the roles you play, you are pulling in opposite directions. The key is to drop the script entirely and start rehearsing a new performance: financial responsibility. For us, this required two strategies:

    David Bach, author of Smart Couples Finish Rich, advocates creating a Value-Based Plan. Jay and his wife should develop a list of mutual values (check out ours here), then prioritize their spending to match their values. If they both value good health, then neither can argue with spending a large sum on a gym membership. A value-based plan will allow them to simultaneously spend AND save toward their goals.

    Our other strategy was to create a primary joint account (for all shared expenses) and two personal allowance accounts. We agreed on a fair allowance, and do not check each other’s allowance account statements. This gives us privacy and freedom to splurge on small items. For the joint account, we set boundaries. Neither of us can spend that money on something that solely benefits one of us without consulting the other first. I think this dual system might work well for Jay and his wife too.

    Other posts in this series:
    1. There are two different methods of documentation being used. (Monday)
    2. There are unclear privacy boundaries. (Tuesday)
    4. No dedicated time exists for talking about finances. (Thursday)
    5. There’s no unified financial plan (Friday)


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