How do you compromise on big purchases?


#1

Hey there!

I’d love to hear your takes on how to compromise with a spouse or SO when your have different values re: big purchases. My fiance and I are talking about the process of combining our finances and aggressive saving, and he brought up that one thing he’d like to purchase is one or more guns. I’m not crazy about guns myself, but I respect that it’s important to him. In our budget we have lines for retirement savings, down payment savings, and vacation savings… should we also have a bucket for guns? I can’t think of anything that I would buy that is comparable. It’s also (maybe) worth noting that I make more than he does, and that gap is only going to grow over time.

How do you handle big purchases of say, $500+, especially when it is only of value to one partner?

This is also a general question of, when combining finances, how much independence do you maintain, and how much do you work as a team towards your goals?


#2

My husband and I have equal spending budgets each month, and if we want something for our hobbies we have to save up our own spending budgets. We discuss our budget weekly, but since I directly manage it he asks me to split his between his day to day spending money and his woodshop category when he’s saving for a specific tool or something. Also, since 2/3 of my pay hits in a bonus each year, we each take a piece at that point to buy something for our own hobbies. Last year I got a new laptop and he bought some kind of saw, but that was bigger purchases than normal.

My husband is a stay at home dad and I work full time. Even when he worked, our incomes were far different. It hasn’t really impacted how we choose to manage things.


#3

Thanks for sharing! My instinct was also to go the individual spending money route, but he expressed some guilt about spending ‘my money’ on something that was just for him.

I think we are just going through some growing pains as we transition from semi-combined finances to fully combined. But it makes sense that each of us can save for our own hobbies or splurges independently. :slight_smile:


#4

My wife and I take an allowance so if there is a big purchase I need to save up for it.

I’m the one with the expensive habit so I had to learn what was actually important that I wanted


#5

Thanks for sharing! It’s definitely a hard balance to strike when you want to be frugal but also have things you want to really splurge on.


#6

Mr. FIRE and I avoid combining our finances for exactly this reason. He spends way to much on bikes for my liking :stuck_out_tongue:

But I would agree with everyone else - give each other a set amount of pocket money that you can do whatever you want with without guilt. If he wants to spend $500+ on a gun then it comes from his pocket money. If you as a couple need a new thing and both agree that you really want that fancy $5,000 thing, it can come from a shared budget line


#7

The way that my wife and I do it is to have a monthly allowance. That way we can blow money on hobbies that the other does not care about. For me that is cycling and for my wife it is the spa.


#8

Communication is key. There has to an understanding between the both of you as to what is important and what actions get you to your goals. This will be the first of many many similar discussions and most won’t have anything to do with money. You have to be able to talk to each other and discuss this stuff openly without emotions getting involved and both have to be willing to compromise when needed.

My thought is make sure you’re on track to hit your savings goals. Once you’re comfortable with that. Use the extra money however you see fit. It’s all about balance!

The easiest thing to do is each agree to a set amount you can spend however you want. Who makes more money should be irrelevant. You’re going to get married. You’re a team. You should feel comfortable enough with each other to not care who makes what.

Good luck!


#9

I totally agree with @OurFIJourney.

If I were you and I recognized the guns were important to him, I’d just put that in our combined budget. If I thought the purchase was totally frivolous then it would require more discussion.

Mr. Groovy has gone on a few sports-related trips with his NY pals to the tune of a few thousand bucks over the years. He tells me often I should spend the same amount of money on just myself but there’s nothing I really want. Maybe I’ll take his mom and sister for a spa treatment next time we visit. (Thanks for the reminder.)


#10

We have a one-pot system for finances, so we discuss everything and decide together what our next goal is. Brainstorming with index cards then discussing them and ranking them has worked well for us. Otherwise, having different incomes can make it seem like you’re not really on the same team or that you don’t have equal votes. There are MANY non-monetary ways to contribute to a relationship that help even things out.


#11

Thank you @Mrs.Groovy, @ChooseBetterLife and @OurFIJourney! I am loving all the wisdom around here. I do think that for us right now, it makes sense to budget an allowance for each of us, and if he wants the gun he can save out of the allowance. Otherwise we’d be pulling from money that will go towards our wedding or our debt, and that’s not something either of us want!

@Mrs.Groovy… a spa treatment sounds great! I might steal your idea for my allowance! :smiley:


#12

Hey Katy,

My wife and I have what we call a discretionary budget item as well. Neither of us gets to complain about what the other spends it on. No matter how many pairs of Pumas or Starbucks cups I throw away, my wife doesn’t complain, even if I feel the joking eye roll and chuckle from across the room.

As far as when we ‘combined’ finances (we keep separate checking accounts) honesty and open communication is key. We keep a list of goals in order we would like to complete them as well. If I wanted a $500 dollar purchase, we would discuss it and it would go to the goals list. It may take a while to get it, but other goals would probably be more important (remodel costs, student loan, etc). We then feel like we are tackling our goals together, even if that goal is a hobby purchase.

Hope this helps or make sense, as it is late and I have been travelling all day!
-Cameron


#13

Great wisdom in this thread. We, too, combine everything into one pot: it’s not my money or her money, it’s all our money. When we were married, I made 2-3x as much as her. Then my income went way down for a season. Then another season I’ll once again make more. But since we always treated all of it as “ours,” it didn’t really affect who made what, or who got what. (With that said, men are wired to provide, so it’s natural he may have a hard time with it - I can understand that as a man.)

As for money, we talk about it all, as others suggested: that’s the key. If it’s for both of us, we use categories from our joint budgets. We each get a little to spend and have discretion with that (or, we’ll also sometimes sell something, or do an extra side gig for something for a hobby, etc. - again, all communicated in advance). Or maybe we split it up and say: you know, this is 33% for both of us, but really, it’s also more for me, so I’ll pay 2/3 of the cost out of my funds. We’ve split things all kinds of ways like that. (E.g.: the wife might want to get us a new chair, but she wants a way fancier one than our budget would allow for, so we compromise some and put in more than I would think from the household funds, plus some from her funds, because she cares far more about some particular things, and bam, we’re there.)

We agree, we do it, and, thankfully, when we do that we’ve never yet had any issues. It’s the stuff we don’t truly agree upon or talk about that gets us. You have to communicate, and you have to do it openly and honestly–that’s the key. And the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it, too.

Best wishes!


#14

Wow, so much good wisdom in this thread! We have separate accounts- we both put 10% of our paycheck into a joint fund that’s earmarked for a down payment on a house, travel, and other joint expenses [our wedding costs came out of this fund too]. For joint expenses like rent, insurance, gifts for other people, etc we pay based on percentage of income. My husband earns significantly more than I do, so by splitting joint expenses this way, it doesn’t feel like he has a TON of extra discretionary funds while I’m hard-core budgeting.

I think not 100% combining our finances works really well because we both have different ideas on how we want to spend our discretionary income on. For example, I might think a $600 pair of boots marked down to $200 is an amazing investment that will last me for years, while he might not understand. Similarly, he’s a huge gadget geek, and I’m not as enthusiastic about owning the latest gadget.

I agree with everyone that communication is key! If you both have discretionary income that you can spend “guilt-free” I think it might help. I hope this helps!


#15

@BestLifeKaty

You’ve already gotten some good responses but I’ll add my two cents based on my experience.

When my wife and got married we were very intentional about saying all money that we make is “our money”. We try to do this in all areas of our marriage, because we believe that if have a mindset where you fully commit to one another then you can do great things together and your chances of divorce go way down (I believe mutual submission is one of the most powerful things in the world, whether it is in a marriage or on a team).

With that said, I would recommend viewing all income together and make sure your budget hits all the things that are important to you first. The two of you will have to communicate to get on the same page on this. A little bit of spending money for each of you is a great way to approach the extra things that are unique interests. But the other thing I might throw into this mix is that if your husband (or you) want to accelerate your ability to purchase extra things, then encourage him to start a side hustle to make extra money to purchase that. I think he’ll be motivate to work hard and value that purchase because he worked hard for it. But the cautionary note would be to make sure neither of you over do this. If the side hustles start taking up all of your time and start affecting your ability to connect and build your relationship, then that is NOT worth it.

Last note is that I think it is very important to talk together about your mutual financial goals (early retirement, investment goals, vacations together, charitable giving, etc.). We view everything through the lens of opportunity cost. Would I rather spend this $100 on a new [fill in the blank] or would I rather invest that $100 toward helping us [fill in the blank]. When your goals are clear then decision making becomes easier.

We’ve found that working together toward our mutual goals has been much more rewarding than the things that only one person is interested in. But of course, it is about balance and communication. I certainly enjoy the occasional round of golf, and my wife is happy to let me go play because she knows how much happiness it brings me. But I go play at the cheaper golf courses because I enjoy it the same amount as a nicer golf course, and the money saved can help up progress with other goals.

Best of luck you and your fiance!