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Relationship Q&A: We Fight About Money All the Time

She's worried about saving for their kids colleges and their retirement, but he wants to move into a bigger house. Can this couple find financial balance? Can this marriage be saved?


Q. My husband and I fight about money constantly. He won't stick to a budget and we barely save anything even though we both have pretty good jobs. And now he wants to buy a bigger house because interest rates are low. I'm terrified of taking out a huge mortgage but he says I'm being irrational. Maybe so, but what about saving for the kids' college and our retirement? I feel like we'll practically be living hand to mouth. This issue is ruining our relationship. How can we find a common ground?

A. When it comes to money issues, opposites often attract. A spendthrift like your husband will pick a saver like you. This kind of pairing can actually be beneficial because you can neutralize each other. If the two of you were spendthrifts, you would never save anything. If you were both hoarders you would never take risks or get a better house or do anything fun. As it is, you can have the best of both money styles. You should be in charge of saving, even if it's only $50 a week. Put the money in a separate account so your husband won't be tempted to dip into it. You might want to agree that the money for savings will come out of your salary while the money for a mortgage will come out of your husband's salary. However, your first step should be to see a financial adviser and an accountant so that you'll have professional third-party opinions about whether you can afford to move or not. Also, get help working out a budget even if you don't buy a new house. Be sure to build into the budget some money for activities you'll both enjoy such as vacations and entertaining. Knowing that your savings are growing even while you're spending a little for pleasure will let you sleep nights and it will keep your husband from feeling deprived. That's a win-win situation for sure!

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