Money Talks, So Should You

50-Plus Finance: Understanding your spouse's financial priorities

David Leto
by David Leto , Dimespring 30 (@50PlusFinance)

If you have your financial priorities in order then you are in the minority. Having a clear idea and plan of where you want to be today and in the future takes a lot of work. If you have made a plan, it's important that your goals coincide with your spouse’s, because if one partner has specific goals and the other does not, it can cause serious problems.

Many marriages are made up of opposites with differing views on finance, but that doesn’t mean you’re headed for divorce court. You probably have similar goals, like retirement, just different ideas on the path you should take to get there. As two adults, you should be able to come together and combine your goals into a plan that is satisfactory to both of you.

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However, you can't agree on a joint plan if you don't know what your spouse’s goals are. Each partner needs to write down on a sheet of paper what their goals are from one to 10, then swap the lists and make comparisons. You'll probably see that many goals are the same, and you may also learn that some are different.

Addressing the differing goals can be challenging, but not impossible. To solve some of these disagreements, both parties need to chose the most important difference and try to accommodate the other.

An example of this problem between spouses and how to solve it occurred in my younger brother’s family. My brother is pretty loose with his money; he is not a saver. His wife is a homebody and enjoys improving their house, while my brother likes to spend on consumables and vacations. He and his wife make a good income, but disagree on this one point.

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In their case, they came to an agreeable solution: my brother would reduce his consumption to fund some home-renovation projects.

I wondered why he would agree to such a one-sided proposal. He told me that paying to have the home remodeled, decorated and painted would be one-time costs. Eventually they would reach a point where they wouldn’t need to spend any more money on his wife’s requests for an up-to-date home. Mission accomplished!

Now my brother’s family is living in a wonderful home with a happy wife. My brother is now pursuing his wants and goals, and everyone’s happy!

I am glad they came to an agreement and put that agreement into practice. It just took communication and cooperation, two things we all should try attain.

David Leto writes about family, finances, and retirement planning for the 50-plus person. David is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and attitudes on personal finance.