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You Spent Money On What? How to Embrace Your Partner’s Spending

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It’s Halloween, which means creepy decorations are in our front yard for the second year in a row. 

Halloween has never been my thing. Before Mr. Taco moved in I would turn out the lights and hide from the trick or treaters. 

But times have changed. And now we buy candy (which has to be strategically hidden from me), and sit on the front porch to hand it out while scaring kids with whatever theme Mr. Taco came up with. 

If I had my choice, I would not be spending money on Halloween. 

But Halloween is something Mr. Taco loves. It’s his jam and he gets so excited to plan his new theme each year.  

Unfortunately, his Halloween spending was not initially easy for me to embrace. 

Last year was our first Halloween living together and I remember going shopping with him for his decorations. I cringed at the amount of money that was being spent. At the time, I thought only a person who was careless with money would spend on things such as a jumping spider! 

I didn’t understand it and I wondered how this relationship would pan out.

Fast forward to this Halloween where there was no cringing from me. Instead, I smiled as I watched him create a ghost out of chicken wire in the backyard.

It was a great feeling to be able to observe him do what he loves, even though it’s something that is far from important to me. 

So what changed? How did I go from being worried about how our spending habits meshed to getting enjoyment from watching him spend money? 

Here is what we’ve done as a couple to help us through this journey. 

Is scaring children your thing? It’s probably fine if it’s only one night a year.

How we’ve kept from strangling each other over money

1. Set a Budget (Together) for Each Partner’s Priorities

I know that not everyone is the budgeting type. But budgeting together, even if you keep your finances separate, can help create the financial framework to help you meet both individual and shared goals.

With the guidance of a jointly determined and agreed upon budget, you can put your mind at ease when it comes to your partner’s spending.

But the key here is that each partner needs to commit to following the budget and also trust that the other is going to follow the budget as well. 

Mr. Taco and I budgeted together for the first time this year. We have separate budgets, but each of us is fully aware of the dollars each of us is assigning to our individual priorities. And guess what…our priorities aren’t the same. 

He spends more “fun money” as he is a bit more social than I am. He likes to get together with friends for a beer or check out the latest horror movie while I’m very content to stay at home. 

On the other hand, I spend more money on gym memberships because I absolutely love my gym. 

But because we budgeted together and know each others’ spending plans, it’s easier for us (mostly me) to feel more at ease with the other’s spending. 

I often find myself wanting to question a purchase. It’s in these moments where I try to remind myself that we put together a plan and now it’s time to sit back and relax. It’s not the easiest thing for me to do, but I’m working on it, and budgeting together helps.

The feeling of togetherness that shared budgeting provides is what makes it a little bit easier for us to embrace our partner’s expenses when those expenses don’t align with our individual priorities. 

If you want to see the template we use plan out our budget together, sign up for the newsletter below. 

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2.  Agree Upon Joint Financial Goals

In addition to budgeting for our individual priorities, we also took time this year to establish joint financial goals. These are things like how much we want to save in our individual retirement plans, home improvements, and our vacations. 

Even if budgeting isn’t your thing, simply having agreed upon joint financial goals can help create space for both your shared and individual life priorities. 

This is because working towards shared financial goals will provide an opportunity for you to “get on the same page” financially with your partner. 

And knowing that each of you is committed to meeting these financial goals will help you feel at ease when your partner comes home with a bag full of mannequin heads. True story. This really happened.  

Establishing shared financial goals has been a complete game-changer for me in this relationship. It puts my mind at ease. And believe me, that is not easy for someone who feels the need to control all things revolving around money.

Due to past experiences, I have a bit of a trust issue when it comes to money in relationships. 

With shared financial goals, I can relax a bit knowing that ultimately we want the same things. I know that when that bag of mannequin heads comes home that it hasn’t affected our ability to save for our vacation or home improvements. 

Agreeing on joint financial goals with your partner is a great way to get ahead in your relationship. Because two heads are better than one. Ok, I’m done now.

3. Create a Space for each other to enjoy life – You do you, Mr. Taco!

The two tactics above help create a financial space for each partner to pursue their goals, both personal and shared. And it has been extremely helpful for us to create this financial framework for our spending habits. 

By making our budgets together, I realized that if I know that my partner’s passion project is in the budget it isn’t going to rock our other financial goals. But what really puts my mind at ease, and makes it totally worthwhile, is experiencing the joy it brings my partner. 

Watching Mr. Taco create an elaborate Halloween theme in our yard was so much fun. It brought him so much joy. And even if the decorations did nothing for me, I still got enjoyment out of them because of how happy it made him feel. 

Another way to think about this is that you are creating space in the relationship for each other to use their resources, time and money to pursue their individual passions. 

I have found that it is easier for me to create this space for my partner when I understand the joy that it brings him. This often requires me to ask questions as it may not be apparent to me right away.  

For example, Mr. Taco likes to pre-order records online. My first reaction is always “why do you need the record when you can just listen to it on Spotify?” But then he kindly reminds me that it’s because he wants to support the artist. And that I understand, and I can create space. 

4. Talk about money regularly (but not too regularly)

This brings me to the final method we use to embrace each other’s spending habits—we talk about money regularly!

Our lives are constantly in flux. What is working now isn’t always going to support our future goals and values. 

For example, I wasn’t a blogger when we started down our joint financial journey. There is no line item in the budget for Cash for Tacos. So the fact that I’m now spending money (and time) pursuing this endeavor is something we have to adjust for financially.

So take the time to talk about these things regularly, whether it be monthly, quarterly or annually. Discuss what’s working and what’s not working for each partner. The goal is to find a balance between financing your goals as a couple and each others’ individual goals. 

You Got This

Accepting your partner’s spending habits can prove to be quite a difficult task. Especially for a person who has some serious money goals (that’s me) that involves a lot of saving.

But getting on the same page with our budget and financial goals helped me relax. And more importantly, seeing how much joy some of the things my partner spends money on brings him has been key for me to embrace his spending. 

For us, this journey has been about figuring out how each of us can pursue our individual passions while working towards our joint financial goals together. So far it’s worked. And I’ve definitely grown a lot as an individual as I work to come to terms with my partner’s spending that isn’t always aligned with my own priorities.  

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5 Responses

  1. Hey! What a great post! This is certainly hard to do but it sounds like you’ve figured out a great process to allow both of “you to do you.”

  2. You are absolutely spot on that money conversations need to happen regularly (but not too regularly). I think this open line of communication can help with personal and joint financial goals. I realize that I’m different from my partner in that I would rather spend my money on experiences and they would rather spend their money on things. I also by happenstance get to enjoy these things–but I gotta let them do what makes them happy and thrive. Great post!

  3. This is totally what my wife and I have to deal with. She loves eating out, buying books for the kids, and going all out on party decorations. I want to put away all cash leftover from paying bills into my retirement funds. She does want to save money for a downpayment on a house and is working two jobs, which bring in close to double of what I make. Budgeting together isn’t something she is interested in doing, though, so for now I have to keep track of that on my own and make sure we are saving enough. But the joy of spending on decorations and books for her is immense and I try to keep my mouth shut, because in reality she doesn’t spend all that much, and her happiness is worth it.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story. I love your point about “she doesn’t spend that much”. That is a point that often goes over my head when I find myself starting to feel the frustration over my partner’s spending. Realizing that really does put it into perspective and can help frustration dissipate.

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Picture of Melody Creator of Cash for Tacos

Hi! I’m Melody and I want to help you create a vision for your life and provide you the necessary tools to use your money to make your vision a reality. 

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