He Says, She Says: 5 Financial Disagreements We Still Have

Sometimes like billy goats we butt heads

Our marriage isn’t perfect by any means. We don’t disagree often, but when we do, it can sometimes blow up. It’s rare, but it happens.

When it comes to money, we do our best to communicate regularly. It helps that I write about this stuff frequently, but it also can cause problems. At times I can get…obsessive. And when I feel like we are headed in a direction that doesn’t align with our monetary goals, I can get defensive.

It’s a point of conflict at times, and one we’re both working to address.

Why We Disagree

Fundamentally, Kristin and I agree on all the big stuff. It’s true that we don’t fight about money often, but that doesn’t mean we agree on everything.

One reason we disagree in particular is because we tend to focus on different timelines. I am a thinker and planner – I’m always thinking about saving money for longer-term goals. Sometimes this can result in losing focus on the here-and-now.

That’s where Kristin comes into play. She agrees with our long-term plans like paying off the house early and pursuing financial independence. But she’s much more grounded with making sure we enjoy our time now and aren’t putting our futures at so much of a priority that we are miserable today.

Both viewpoints have their advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to balance them. Sometimes that balancing act is more difficult and can lead to disagreements on how we spend (or save) our money.

Here are five things we disagree on, and how we’re handling them.

Financial Disagreement 1. How to Pay the House Off Early

The operative word here is ‘how’.

We both agree that we want to pay off the house early. Our goal is to retire in our late 40’s or early 50’s, realistically. That’s probably doable considering we are maxing out Kristin’s 401(k). Both of us also want to go into retirement without the expense of a mortgage each month.

We know the math doesn’t necessarily promote this – on average we could probably earn more in the market over the long haul. That’s not a concern, and it’s something we’re doing anyway. For us, the psychological wins outweigh the math.

Plus, if we have no mortgage, our expenses will be dramatically reduced and we could shift into lower paying or part-time work without touching our nest egg, if needed.

What we disagree on, though, is how to actually go about paying it off.

Her Preference: Pay extra each month.

We are currently paying extra each month directly to our principal. This is easier for the first year of home ownership for us because, as a new build, our property taxes are still super low (about $100/month)

Next year will be different, and our ability to pay extra will be more limited.

His Preference: Save extra in a taxable account.

My preference is to pay our minimum on the mortgage and invest the extra. Doing so would give us a taxable account that opens up more options.

I like having options. At under 4%, our mortgage debt is relatively inexpensive to hold on to. It’s likely that we could earn more over the next 15-20 years in the stock market.

When we get to a point where our mortgage balance is less than what we have in our taxable account, we could sell our positions and pay the balance of the mortgage.

It’s likely that saving in a taxable account would be a quicker path, but it’s much less direct. Paying down the mortgage has a guaranteed ‘return’ which Kristin prefers.

For now, we’re paying extra each month, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we changed our strategy on this once we get rid of PMI.

Financial Disagreement 2: Our Car Budget

Being a one car family is great financially. Every day we don’t have a second car is another day we don’t have to worry about gas, insurance, maintenance, or a dreaded car loan.

It’s part of why admitting we need a second car at some point was really tough for me. I can’t deny that it’d be convenient…but that convenience needs to be worth the cost. And we don’t agree on what that means.

Her Preference: Around $20-25k.

Kristin wants to drive a relatively newer (but still used) SUV, with light miles on it. Probably a 2014 or newer, and something around the $20-24k range.

This is what I initially spent on my Sonata, so it’s not unreasonable to me. But I also hate the idea of spending money on cars, and know that we could find something for less.

Knowing that we’d plan on driving any vehicle we get until it doesn’t run anymore is encouraging. But we haven’t even started saving for a second car yet, and I’d like to avoid a loan.

His Preference: $15k tops.

If we’re going to be purchasing this year, it’s going to be tough for us to afford a $20k+ vehicle without a loan.

When I suggested that we look at SUV’s around the $15k mark, Kristin’s reaction was “Well then we just won’t get a new car.” Obviously not the way to reach a compromise, haha.

Thing is, there are plenty of slightly older SUV’s with a few more miles on them that can be purchased for $14-15k. These drive fine, but may not have all the features Kristin is looking for (like heated seats for the wintertime).

Given this will be her primary car, I think it’s fair that she has a bit more ownership of the decision making.

One thing I would encourage her to do (I haven’t told her this yet, so Kristin as you’re reading…hint hint) is to find ways to make extra money. Not like on the street corners or anything haha! But finding ways over the next few months to save more money than we’re already planning on would help me feel a lot more comfortable.

Regardless, I’ve come up to around the $20k mark because I know that it’ll smooth things over. Ultimately a few thousand dollars on a car loan isn’t the end of the world.

Depending on the interest rate, it may even be something we don’t bother paying off early (but probably would for cash-flow reasons and simplifying our life).

As we move through this process I’ll be sure to include updates on our decision-making process.

Financial Disagreement 3: What Falls In Our Fun Money Category

We’re in the process of FINALLY merging all of our money. Any periodic payments have switched over, and now the last piece of the puzzle is getting paychecks deposited into a shared account.

This means that we’ll be using our ‘fun money‘ accounts as we intended them in the near future. But we still don’t agree on what really should fall in this discretionary spending bucket.

Specifically, Kristin gets her nails done semi-frequently. It’s not every week, and it’s not overly expensive, but it’s something that should be considered regardless.

Her Preference: This should be considered a Personal Care item and come out of the big money pool. Not that we’re budgeting down to that level, but if we were, Kristin argues that it’s important for her to take care of her nails.

Something about looking good, feeling good about herself, etc. 🙂

His Preference: This isn’t a requirement nor is it something I particularly care about, so I think this should be covered in her fun money.

If she feels like she needs to pay to have her nails done (instead of just doing them herself) then that’s on her.

Given the choice between Kristin getting her nails done or saving that money instead, I’d choose saving that money every time.

Honestly for as little as this one is I’ll just deal with it. Besides, it’s not like we budget in the traditional sense anyway. A few extra bucks a month isn’t going to break us.

Financial Disagreement 4: Clothes

Ugh, there’s just something about buying clothes that I hate.

I hate shopping for clothes. I hate trying them on and seeing what looks good on me. Sorting through racks of clothes to find my size. Taking them home and forgetting to take the tags off, then going in to work with a sticker or tag still on.

I just hate it all.

So when it comes to how much I think we should spend on clothes each month, my answer is $0.

Her Preference: An adequate amount of money should be spent on clothes. Who knows what that is? It doesn’t matter, really. Even buying one new thing a month is too much for me.

His Preference: Last year I got rid of a sweatshirt that I got in high school. That pretty well sums up how I feel about buying and getting rid of clothes.

I’d be fine getting one new shirt a year, give or take.

Financial Disagreement 5: Paying for TV

The last of our disagreements comes from the lovely television. Sometime in the past few years, I pretty much stopped watching TV altogether, save for a few shows.

I’m not quite sure when or why, but I just have no interest in watching cable TV. It’s part of the reason we switched to SlingTV; all of the shows Kristin wanted to watch we could do for cheaper.

That was a big win for us, and saved us a bunch of money. However, as the primary television consumer in the house, Kristin still isn’t 100% satisfied.

Her Preference: Keep Sling, upgrade to DVR option. We don’t pay for a DVR right now which means if Kristin misses watching one of her favorite shows, she has to wait for it to air again.

It’s also tough at times since we don’t have all of the networks she wants to watch (apparently). It’s only five bucks, but I just hate the idea.

His Preference: Ditch Sling. We already pay for Netflix and Amazon Prime, and can watch Hulu too.

I’m not going to lie and say I don’t watch anything on TV, though. Property Brothers is still one of my favorite shows. But if it’s not on HGTV, I’m pretty much not watching it.

The only shows I really watch with any interest outside of that are Game of Thrones and Westworld. There are other, cheaper ways to watch just a single season of each of those shows.

I’d love to cancel SlingTV and instead rely on the services we have already. It’d save us another $30 or so each month, and hopefully encourage us to do more productive things.

Resolving Our Differences

We still haven’t resolved all of these disagreements, and probably won’t for a while. I’m being stubborn on the TV front and hoping Kristin eventually caves.

Kristin is holding strong on our mortgage payoff strategy.

I don’t think we’ll resolve these in ways that make both of us happy 100% of the time, and I’m sure more disagreements will come up. There are constantly things that we need to weigh the pros and cons of. While we do our best to never actually fight, we still frequently don’t see eye-to-eye.

If we let them, these disagreements could blow up into bigger issues. Thankfully we’re pretty good at communicating…most of the time.

And honestly if these are the biggest financial disagreements we have, with as few and far between as they are, I think we’re doing okay.

Question:

What do you think about the disagreements we have? Whose side do you take in these? And what do you disagree on with your partner?

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24 Comments

  1. This was really interesting to read! My husband and I disagree at times too, but we’ve recently merged finances and I’ve found that’s helped a lot. It’s still TBD if the fun money is enough to actually fulfill our personal needs. We have $200/mo each for shopping and any fun activities (buying clothes, comic books, going to the spa, eating lunch out at work, etc. all come from here). We do budget “personal care” jointly, and my number is higher than my husband’s because women’s haircuts are hella expensive, but other things like nails come out of my money. For January, this worked…TBD on future months! It’s hard because I feel like women’s clothing, personal care, etc. is all more expensive than men’s, but I also want our system to be equitable.

    I have a Q on something you wrote, though – “We are currently paying extra each month directly to our principal. This is easier for the first year of home ownership for us because, as a new build, our property taxes are still super low (about $100/month)” — We are buying a new build townhome/condo, so not sure if it’s the same, but I haven’t heard about property taxes being lower the first year. Can you explain more about how that works, and if it’s state/location specific? Also, are those wrapped up into your monthly bank/mortgage payment, or paid by you to somewhere else separately? Still a newbie to this stuff!

    1. Thanks Juli!

      I think merging finances will help. We are FINALLY getting around to it now; we were delayed a bit with the closing of the house and then honestly we just got lazy. 🙂

      Women’s care stuff does tend to be more expensive, I guess you’re right.

      For property taxes, they perform an assessment and then you pay those taxes the following year. In our case, we built our home AFTER they performed that assessment, so to their records, we only are paying taxes on the value of the land itself.

      When they come back out sometime this year and reevaluate the lot, they’ll raise our taxes since we now have a house on it as well which drives the price up about 4x. That means that our 2019 taxes will subsequently go up, probably ~5x if I had to guess (that’s what I’m planning on anyway). Depending on the timing, this may or may not be your case as well. I’m guessing this is a relatively consistent practice, but I’d maybe check with a realtor in your area. For what it’s worth, we closed in October.

      And yeah we have them wrapped into our monthly mortgage payment. Property taxes and insurance go into an escrow account – basically just a holding account for our money. The bank uses the money in the escrow account to pay our insurance directly and to pay our taxes. Once we’re below 80% loan to value (so we have 20% equity in the home) we can ask for the escrow account to be removed; at that point, we’d pay the taxes ourselves and same with insurance.

      The best part of avoiding the escrow account is being able to get a small return on that money as it’s hanging out in our own savings account. But you’ve got to remember to budget for it, or you’ll be surprised when your bill comes due 🙁

  2. First off, thank you for sharing. Financial arguments in the homestead are not the easiest subjects to unveil.

    Secondly, you and your wife are as normal as the rest of us crazy people. It’s healthy to come to the table with a different perspective. My wife and I have not resolved many of our financial differences (many coming from our upbringing and past experiences), but as you stated, communication is the key to moving forward together.

    We have slowly learned that when we come to the table to work it out, both voices are given their time to be heard and have equal weighting.

    It’s a work in process…

    1. I really enjoy talking about financial arguments because I think that it’s really interesting to see how outsiders react 🙂 I also think it’s beneficial for me to articulate what I’m thinking in a more coherent way through written words, so hopefully Kristin gleaned a little bit of knowledge from this post also.

  3. Dude…you obviously haven’t been married long enough or you missed this day in class:

    “You can be happy, or you can be right. Take your pick.”

    Your wife is right. Your wife is always right.

  4. Good post Dave. We had similar disagreements. We resolved the mortgage one by getting just a 10 year mortgage which is retired now. The cable thing is harder, since our home internet is tied to it, and we both work from home. We’re all over the map with the shows that we watch, so even if we eliminated cable, we’d still need about half of it for internet access. It’s not worth the hassle just yet. Thanks for sharing. It will be interesting to see how some of these evolve over time.

    1. A ten year mortgage is intense! We wouldn’t have been able to afford our house on a 10 year. It’d have been a stretch on a 15, but I think if we bump our income up EVER so slightly we could do it comfortably.

      I’ll make sure to circle up on these later in the year! Thanks Jim

  5. Hi Dave,
    I am with Kristin on the mortgage, it’s a sure thing not like the market.
    Do you guys not have your own separate accounts for things like clothes and nails? We did and it worked great, no question asked!
    Cable? Is it really worth a fight!
    Retiring in late 40’s shouldn’t be an issue for the two of you. I have one income and three kids and I could retire at 50.

    1. My big thing with the mortgage too – besides maybe being quicker – is that if, worst case, we can’t afford our mortgage payment, at least we’d have a taxable account with SOME money in it. Sure maybe it’d have lost some value due to a market downturn, but it’d be enough to make a few payments for sure. If we have it all tied up in equity, we can’t really do much about making that next payment. To me, that seems riskier. It’s super interesting to me that given the exact same set of facts, it’s possible to interpret it as the LESS risky move. This is why I LOVE personal finance. It’s just so fascinating!

      And no we don’t have our own separate accounts for those. We have $100 in ‘fun money’ each month in our own accounts, but the argument Kristin’s making – which I get, I guess – is that that shouldn’t come out of the fun money.

      Cable’s not worth the fight right now. I enjoy watching Property Brothers anyway so I’ll live with it…

      Late 40’s would be awesome. I think it’s possible. It’s definitely going to be a push to get there but if we focus on growing our income over the next 5 years or so I think we’ll be in a great spot.

  6. Read the Catfish above, as a guy married over thirty years I’d do the following: get her whatever TV package she wants, shut up about the pedi’s, and give her your Sonata and go buy a $5,000 beater. The money you’ll save by driving the crate will pay for all her extras! See, everyone wins! If she has to have a SUV you can sell the Sonata, and get a comparable SUV for her and a clunker for you. You just aren’t looking at all the options! My wife buys whatever brand new car she wants without me even seeing it until she has finished the purchase. Of course the last new car she bought was in 2006 and she is still driving it.

    1. This is actually a really great idea Steve. I’d be happy driving just about anything that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg to acquire or maintain. 🙂 This is a battle I could “lose” and still come out ahead on overall for the category!

  7. Good post! Now I may be bias since Kristin is my sister, but you guys could use a second car to benefit your marriage. If you guys do fun money, then there shouldn’t be any judgement on what is purchased and how much is spent. And the TV, there should be a better compromise than her caving. You both are hard workers, enjoy your time off by spoiling yourselves once in a while!

  8. My biggest concern out of those four arguments would be the mortgage one, because it’s a question of longer-term strategy. Reading these have made me realize how lucky I am that my husband basically defers all the money stuff to me! He trusts me and doesn’t question anything. We also buy whatever we want, and it doesn’t matter much because our savings goals are always met. I usually tell him, “Hey, I’m buying this $30 shirt,” and that’s that. The only time we disagreed was when I saw he wrote a $150 wedding check! I realized that we had very different ideas on what was “appropriate” for wedding money. I guess that’s another article I gotta write 🙂

    1. Yeah the mortgage one I think also has the biggest impact. Even at just 5% returns, the difference is over a year earlier by investing. I also like the flexibility and, if something happens and we need that money, having it tied up in equity is of little help. I think we’ll probably reevaluate once next year rolls around since our payment will change due to a big tax increase.

      That $150 wedding check – was that as a gift for someone else’s wedding you mean? I’m curious to read about it!

  9. To tackle things one at a time:

    1. The mortgage. I say you should pay this off early. I understand where you are coming from with the account investing, but I see where Kristin is coming from too. I personally believe owning your home and being completely debt free is important. You will be able to grow your net worth faster when you have no debt too, since you aren’t battling inflation AND interest from a loan. Even if it is a low interest rate loan.

    2. The car. I commented on your other post related to the car, but I’ll reiterate here slightly. If Kristin feels she will get joy out of owning a car, and she will use it frequently, buy it. As for the budget, I am not a car expert. I negotiated a new four door sedan down to ~$16,500. I only use my car for commuting, so all I needed was something to get me from point A to B. But I wanted reliability, and I didn’t want to inherit any issues from a previous owner’s habits. I’d say $20,000 is reasonable for a new car, max.

    3. Nails. I gotta admit, I think having your nails done in a saloon is a big extravagance. Nail stops should be from Kristin’s fun money. You can do your nails just as easily with some cheap essentials. I get mine from the convenience store with coupons. (Cuticle oil, cuticle pusher, nail file, nail clippers, base coat, top coat, color coat.) I do my own nails, and people have asked if I get them done professionally. I do them on my own, for pennies each “session.” (My sessions involve putting on a TV show on Netflix, and letting the episodes play as I do my thing.)

    4. Clothes. Within reason, yes you should have a clothes budget. Having a sweater from high school is fine…if you are using it for pajamas. Holes, tears, and non-repairable issues are where I draw the line for public use.

    5. TV. I do watch TV, but I find myself binging the shows on Netflix after the season is over instead of watching them in real time. I think a Netflix or Amazon Prime account is good enough.

    1. 1. Yep, we both agree on paying it off early, just about how to go about it. I’d prefer to save up and then lump sum (which SHOULD be quicker) and she prefers to chip it down slowly, but with 100% certainty. If nothing else we can plan more precisely with that method. Either way we won’t be able to pay it down in a super short timespan unless we make a lot more money than we’re anticipating.

      2. Totally agree with your comments in the other post. Still gives me heartburn though!

      3. Finally someone who agrees with me! Hahah. To be fair she doesn’t go very often to get her nails done (maybe every like…six weeks? I have no idea) so it’s not like she’s going every other week. I’ll make sure she reads this comment though 🙂

      4. That’s a fair compromise.

      5. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu seem adequate to me as well. Maybe we’ll get there one day!

  10. Ughhh, I felt like I was living your life reading through these, hee hee hee. I think Mr. Picky Pincher and I mostly argue over when to pay off debt and when to invest. Surprisingly, I’m actually more in favor of investing over paying off debt (usually it’s the man who wants to invest). I think that having time on our side is valuable. In 2019 the only debt we’ll have is our mortgage; I’d much rather prioritize investments and apply excess to our mortgage since the interest rate is freakin’ low.

    1. Haha I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not?!

      There’s definitely a time and place for both debt payoff and investing. For me it all depends on the interest rates and cash flow. To be honest I’m with you though – with a low interest rate, it doesn’t really make a ton of sense mathematically to pay the mortgage down super quickly. That being said, you can’t argue with a paid-off house. I know I’d feel great about that.

      I’d encourage you guys to find a good compromise. Mine was that we need to be at LEAST maxing one 401(k), preferably both, and then we can pay some extra toward the house. But I’m not cool with paying down the house and not saving $$ for retirement, because I know that if we don’t save, we won’t be able to retire even when the house is paid off.

      With this sort of compromise I think we can probably grow our net worth to the point we need for retirement at about the same pace as we’re paying off the house. Which means we may throw a bitchin’ party to celebrate a mortgage payoff and retirement at the same time! Haha

  11. Hubs and I have been married nearly 40 years, and we don’t ever fight about money. How’s that for an opener! A couple of things I noticed. You only have two disagreements. The mortgage and the car – and quite frankly, I think Steveark is brilliant! Is your wife a compulsive shopper? Does she buy clothes every single month, or go out shopping and make clothing purchases with each trip? If so, you might have a bigger problem. But if she’s just a seasonal shopper, buying her new pieces as she truly needs them, then you should take Catfishwizard’s advice. The occasional wardrobe addition along with nice nails, haircuts, etc. are just part of being a happy woman. As for the TV situation, I’m sure you’ll work it out. I’m currently investigating how we can cut the cable and still be satisfied with our services. So combine the pot, respect each other’s needs, and be flexible about how you pay that mortgage off early (we did, and it’s awesome!) Best wishes to you both!

    1. That’s a long time to never fight about money! Hahah

      Kristin’s definitely NOT a compulsive shopper. She goes shopping pretty infrequently and when she does, she doesn’t buy things often. If she DOES want to buy something, she’ll wait for it to go on sale and save up cash if she has to. She had her eyes set on a purse or wallet or something like that for her 30th birthday, for example, and saved for about a year a little bit each month to get it. She’s really responsible when it comes to money, I think we just have some differences in how we handle debt (she’s much more debt averse than I am) and what we consider ‘necessary’ expenses (honestly because I’m a dude and don’t get it, hahah).

      Thanks for stopping by and providing your input Lynn! Good luck with cutting the cable. If you want to take a step down, Sling’s not a bad alternative and may be able to save some money. But if the goal is to cut TV altogether, probably not the option for you.

  12. Thanks for sharing this! Money and marriage is always a unique challenge and opportunity for every couple. Completely shameless plug for my own blog – I recently wrote about how we’ve gone through our eight years of marriage without fighting about money. Would love your thoughts on it!

    1. It’s definitely a challenge and an opportunity! I’ll check out your blog and leave some comments! Nothing wrong with a bit of a shameless plug haha

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