If you and your partner don't agree on what's worth splurging on, and what isn't, it can cause conflict within your relationship. Especially if you both are working toward a shared financial goal, like saving up to buy a home or for a wedding.
You can avoid some of this conflict by implementing a simple ground rule, says Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, author of "Financial Adulting: Everything You Need to be a Financially Confident and Conscious Adult."
"If you have separate bank accounts, decide on a savings contributions number," she says. For example, make a rule that every two weeks $100 needs to be contributed to a shared savings account.
This can help eliminate some conflict: "It doesn't matter how much you spend, if you are making that contribution goal," she says.
Gerstley and her partner, Justin, fall into the category of spending opposites. "I am more of an experience person and I love personal development experiences, whereas Justin is like 'I can't believe you would pay for that,'" she says.
"He wants to have a physical thing when he spends a lot of money, and I'm like, 'Oh another thing.'"
If you put the savings contribution rule in place and each person in the couple meets that requirement and has done their part, then there could be less irritation or judgment around purchases the other doesn't understand.
If your partner consistently struggles to meet a savings contribution goal, or you do, you two together might want to consider a broader discussion about why that is, says Ashley Agnew, the director of relationship development at financial advisory firm Centerpoint Advisors. There is likely a deeper reason the goal isn't being met.
"They might have a debt you don't know about or they have this lingering fear of not having enough emergency savings," she says.
You could also increase the number of check-ins you're doing to keep each other accountable. "If a couple is only sitting down every three months they might need to do it once a month or once a week," Agnew says.
If the conversation doesn't net any change in behavior, consider hiring a professional, she says: "Working with someone, like financial therapist of financial advisor, can help make the conversations more productive."
Another strategy you could implement is having a spending threshold, Gerstley says. This means that you pick a dollar amount and if one party wants to spend above that, they need to check in with the other.
"It could be $50, or $100, or $1,000," she says. "It keeps there from being a surprise where a Peloton shows up at the door."
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