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
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.
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?