Money for Nothing


Dear Dharma,

OK, so here goes.  I am married to my college girlfriend and we have been together (including dating) for 6 years. We are late 20’s, but starting to really get on track as far as work and life.  We both have fulltime jobs, she is a teacher, I am in IT.

The problem is, I want to save for our future, but when she saves at all, it is for very short term goals.  I am looking to save for down payments and retirement (I know it sounds early but I want to retire by 50 while I can still enjoy life) and she wants to save to pay off last month’s big trip to Vegas.

She thinks I am being silly, because “everybody is in debt” that’s just how it works.  To me, that is not saving, that’s catching up to living beyond our means.  Her philosophy is that as long as we have more coming in each month than goes out, we are good, and it doesn’t matter how much is on our credit cards, because you only need to make the minimum payment.

It is really starting to be a major source of friction, and I don’t know what to do about it. I know your advice tends to be, change yourself because you can’t change other people, but in this case I do NOT want to be the one to change!  I believe I am looking out for our future, and I need help to make her see that, and that she needs to make some accommodation.

How do I handle this?

All About the Benjamins

Dear Benjamin,

Being on the same page when it comes to finances is super important.  I can definitely see how it would be a major source of friction within your relationship when you’re not.

It’s too bad this wasn’t discussed before wedding bells rang, but alas, here we are, as you can’t un-ring a bell, now can you…

I hate to play the counsellor card so early in an answer, but I really think that could be helpful for you both.  It’s not so much to figure out the money issue as it is to figure out how to resolve conflict between the two of you.

She can’t go merrily along spending the money, not caring while you sweat and grind your teeth at the ever growing pile of bills.  And you can’t run a dictatorship regarding the financial picture.

The level of resentment that will grow here is monumental, I can promise you that.  And you know what?  It won’t be about money.  It will be about respect.  More so, the perceived lack of respect…

“If she respected me, she wouldn’t spend money that way when she knows how I feel about it.”

“If he respected me, he wouldn’t try to control every cent I spend.”

Once blatant disrespect is introduced into a relationship, it’s a nasty bugger to evict.  In fact, it tends to breed like mold on a muggy day, so it really does need to be addressed.

Thus, the suggestion for counselling.

She can think it’s silly all she wants, but if you explain the long term effects this division of behaviour could have on your marriage, hopefully she will think twice.



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