DEAR NATALIE: I just got married and my husband and I have radically different spending habits. I am a saver. I always have been. I grew up with very little and watched how my mom was able to pinch pennies to get us through. As an adult with a successful career, I can’t help but have that mindset when it comes to money. My husband grew up financially stable and has a freer attitude with spending. His whole attitude is: “You can’t take it with you.” While I can respect that, it just isn’t the way I live. So, we are at an impasse. The pandemic was hard on us but we both were able to keep our jobs and had to make a few sacrifices along the way. We live together in an apartment and are looking to buy a house. I found one that I really like, but he wants to buy a bigger home. Yes, we can technically afford it, but I would like to live below our means until the remnants of this pandemic are behind us. We have been fighting about it. Our lease is up at the end of the summer, so we really need to make a decision. How do I get him to understand my perspective? I don’t want to be house poor. —LIVE SMALL AND SAVE LARGE
DEAR LIVE SMALL AND SAVE LARGE: While I admire your husband’s appreciation to live life on the financial edge, I can’t help but agree with you on this one. However, there is a compromise here. No one is saying this has to be your forever home. Why not live below your means for now by finding an affordable place that is a good investment to fix up over the next few years. Then, resell and use that cushion to buy the dream house. This gives you time to save your money, invest in a solid property and when you are ready, move on to bigger and better things. The difference here is instant gratification versus long term gain. It sounds as though he is all about satisfying the here and now, while you are looking at the bigger picture and willing to make sacrifices in the short term so that you can reap more benefits in the future. I’m not a financial planner, but it makes sense to me to have more money in the bank during difficult times like now while building towards a future goal. Why not ask him to visit a financial advisor together? Perhaps once he sees that he can have what he wants if he is willing to wait to build up the funds over time, he may be more receptive to seeing the benefits of living below your means. It could mean more vacations in his future, too, if you aren’t throwing all of your money at the mortgage!
DEAR NATALIE: I am engaged and my partner and I don’t have a lot of money for a wedding. My parents have offered to give us twenty thousand dollars towards the event. I think it seems silly in this economy to spend that on a party. I think we should just buy a house, use it for a down payment and put the rest away. My partner thinks we should have the wedding we want and worry about a house down the road. We both have student loans, too, which is complicating things. Do you think it is irresponsible to spend this money on a party? I just worry that in this economy, it is like throwing money away to have a wedding. How do I convince my partner to think about our future?
DEAR FUTURE PLANS: I certainly can’t tell you what to do with that large nest egg your parents are willing to give to you, but if I had my way, I would buy a house. I would buy a house that is a good investment and get married at the courthouse and use a little of that money to throw an intimate dinner party at a nice restaurant afterwards. Then, in a few years, have a bigger anniversary party once you have paid down some of your loans. Why put yourselves in financial stress right out of the gate if you don’t have to? It sounds like your partner is looking to have a lavish celebration, but in the long term, starting your marriage off on the right financial foot will create less stress -- and less cause for arguments -- in the long run. Talk to them about what the future means to you and how investing in your future together will reap bigger dividends down the road.
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