Dudes, we’re gettin’ real on this ‘ol blog today.
Let me set the scene –
We’re a year into marriage and things are starting to get good.
Back in September we traded in our postage-stamp sized studio apartment in a not-so-great Minneapolis neighborhood for a spacious one-bedroom in the ‘burbs with scenic golf-course views and a swimming pool. Mr.C earned a promotion while I waved goodbye to stay-at-home wifedom + part-time employment and joined the ranks of the full-time working world. We’ve gone all “adult” with our 401Ks, health insurance, life insurance, and smart phones – and we couldn’t be happier.
Well…okay, to be honest, we could be!
See it all stems from a little five letter, monster of a word… Money. Or to get all fancypants… Finances.
With student loan payments kicking in, retirement + investment decisions to be made, and a new car to save up for – to be blunt – we reallllly needed to get our shit together. With full-time paychecks rollin’ in on the reg, we started to eat out more and dream about couches and vacations. At the same time, $43,000 worth of student loan debt hung in the air like a heavy, angry cloud of doom. Selfishness and resentment began to breed as we waged war over what was reasonable to save and spend and why.
According to the study, “Fatal (Fiscal) Attraction: Spendthrifts and Tightwads in Marriage,” conducted by team of professors from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University – people tend to marry spouses with opposing emotional reactions to money.
And, as Mr.C & I got down the nitty gritty, examined our spending habits, financial goals, past experiences with our individual finances, and the way we learned about money growing up – we realized we were quite opposite when it came down to it.
Sure, we both understand the value + importance of saving, of budgeting, and eliminating debt. But while Mr.C is more relaxed and laid back about the whole thing with his “everything will turn out okay” mantra – I’m looking at him with crazy-eyes wondering how the heck he can think we’ll be able to buy a new car or couch while still saving more emergencies and paying down the student loan. Pals, money stress me the F out. And I’ll be the first to admit that I do get anxious+obsessed and adopt a crazy sense of urgency (both real and imagined) about our finances.
So, taking everything I’ve said thus far into account, it’s obvious we’re gonna have problems. We aren’t on the same page and major frustration is around every corner. Since Mr.C and I do not share the same attitudes when it comes to them dolladollabills it leads to me not feel like he’s not doing what he should be (and of course I tell him so – but not very nicely) and in turn he thinks I’m being silly/irrational and wishes I’d just zip it already
But guess what, we are so not alone in this!
CNN posted a great article about this topic and the study I mentioned above (you can read it here). The article outlines the exact problems I echoed here.
Money is one of the biggest issues that couples fight about and having different mental attitudes & behaviors toward cash can cause a lot of friction in relationships.
Sure sometimes marrying your financial opposite can have it’s benefits. The authors of the “Fatal (Fiscal) Attraction” study reveal that…
“Tightwads and spendthrifts are generally unhappy with their emotional reactions toward spending, and complementary attraction may benefit both spouses if they help each other overcome their prepotent emotional reactions toward spending.”
Of course they then go on to say:
“the reality of being married to someone with different — and thus, ideally, complementary — attitudes toward money is not all joy and partnership. When you want to buy the new flat screen and your spouse wants that cash to go into the retirement fund, compromise can be hard.”
And that the report found that:
“Complementary emotional reactions toward spending money among husbands and wives will be associated with greater conflict over finances, which will in turn be associated with diminished martial well-being.”
Well Mr.C & I definitely didn’t want that!!
But it had already started…the evil Money Monster had crept in and was going all Godzilla on our
We were unhappy and needed to break the cycle.
It seems impossible right?! I mean…how can we have financial security and still have fun?
We knew what we wanted ultimately.
We wanted to:
be frugal, but spend wisely
save for the future, but still pay down our debt
have a handle on our finances,
but not to be so miserly + obsessed that it felt depressing + unrealistically restrictive
to be financially responsible, but still be able to enjoy life
to be able travel, buy new things, and go out without breaking the bank
But how in the world does one get to that place?
Because we certainly weren’t getting anywhere just the two of us – that had been established.
What we needed was a plan and a good one.
We needed to get on the same page financially and start tackling our issues head on.
So I turned to the one place I knew could help…Google.
And after a quick search, I found what would quickly become our first step towards financial (+ marital) peace!
Because *gasp* money doesn’t have to run your life or ruin your relationship.
To Be Continued…
(read the second installment here)