Reader Mailbag: Getting on the Same Page

Reader Mailbag

Guess what happens when we get questions from readers? We answer them! So if you have your own question, click here and shoot it off to us. We’ll do our best to get back to you and give you an answer that isn’t totally incorrect.

Every relationship can benefit from a healthy dose of disagreement from time to time. At least, that’s what I’d like to think because that means Johnny and I have a really healthy relationship! We’re both very stubborn and independent, thankyouverymuch. But the reason for most of our disagreements is that we’re determined to make decisions as a team. We try our best to communicate and compromise and work together. And in the process, we inevitably stumble upon differences of opinion (what to eat, what to name our baby, whether we should own a minivan). And that goes for finances, too. It would be easier for each of us to take separate financial journeys. But before we got married, we decided everything would be joint (including our bank accounts).

So what do you do when you and your S.O. want to face your finances together, but you’re not quite on the same page? Well, we want to share a great question by an OFB friend and reader that touches on just that!

Hello Joanna & Johnny!

Okay, so I recently started my journey to becoming financially fit.  I began by reading The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey (thanks to you guys). I’m excited and sooo motivated to start making better decisions with my money. However… let me tell you a little about me, my fiancé and our situation. We are currently engaged, we both work full-time, rent a house, utility bills, my car, loans, credit cards and medical bills. Did I mention we are planning a wedding!!

I feel that even though we have so much going on we can still begin our Money Makeover. My fiancé however does not feel the same way.

What do you think would be the best way to get him on board? What/How do you budget when your other half is not on the same page?

And here’s our answer:

Hi _______!

Thanks for reaching out to us! First of all, congrats on starting your journey to become financially fit, and congrats on the upcoming wedding! Wedding planning in and of itself can be quite stressful (albeit super fun!!), so kudos on working toward financial freedom at the same time. There’s no time like the present, right?

When Johnny and I first started budgeting, I was actually the one dragging my feet. I just kind of thought keeping such a strict, itemized budget would ruin our lives! But Johnny convinced me to give it a try for one month. I agreed, but as we started it, I was so not on board because it was really hard initially. But by the end of the first month, I was sold. For the first time in our marriage, we both felt in control of our money. At times, we still find budgeting frustrating (our freaking budget, hello!). However, we didn’t start a budget because we wanted to be frustrated all the time. We did it because it would actually bring us less stress over time. If you can talk to your fiancee about perhaps a 1-month trial period or about how it will bring you more peace and less stress in the long run, and he still doesn’t want to do it, just go forward with it the best you can yourself. And hopefully him seeing you work so hard will help him come around.

Good luck in the coming weeks and months! If you feel yourself losing that motivation, just remember there are lots of other people working toward financial fitness, too — you’re not alone! And tell your fiancee that if he doesn’t come around, I’m gonna hunt him down and make him see reason ;).


So what are your thoughts on this topic? What do you do when you and your S.O. don’t see eye to eye on finances? 
Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Taynia | The Fiscal Flamingo September 26, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Awesome advice. Which can actually be applied to anything in life!! Just try it once. If you despise it, can’t handle it, etc. we’ll either try your way or work out a compromise. Congrats on the wedding to your reader!

    • Reply Johnny September 30, 2013 at 1:56 am

      Good point — this goes above and beyond financial issues. Joanna has humored me by trying more meals with onions while I compromise with pizzas with olives (even if that means I pick all of them off my slices).

  • Reply Becky @ RunFunDone September 26, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I’m not sure that this will help get the guy “on board,” but I do want to suggest that you can be very smart and frugal with your money and savings without tracking EVERYTHING you spend!

    My husband and I tracked everything for 6-months-or-so. Then, it got to be way too much, it was too hard! So we started a new method. We have savings goals that we make sure to meet each month. We also both have personal spending budgets for fun activities and clothing. Other than that, we don’t track. Food spending doesn’t get tracked, toilet paper is not tracked, etc. It keeps us from wasting money without driving ourselves crazy. For us, it works a lot better. (Because let’s be honest – I’m not going to go out and spend a crazy amount of money on TP!)

    • Reply Johnny September 30, 2013 at 2:02 am

      That’s great that you’ve found a way to meet your goals without tracking spending. I’m envious. We still rely on the tracking method because we just don’t have a good enough handle on where we stand at any given point in the month. That being said, all of our spending and limits are basically ingrained in our habits now, but we still like to be able to check in with hard data throughout the month. But this is a great alternative/compromise if your second half isn’t digging the whole tracking thing.

  • Reply Rob September 26, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    “What do you do when you and your S.O. don’t see eye to eye on finances? ”

    Well guys, for the most part (for over xx yrs of marriage – lol) my wife and I have been “on the same page” relating to financial matters. However … this mostly applies to major financial issues in our lives (ie., major spending, types of investments, savings goals budgeting, etc.). That said, however, we all are different in some ways, have different tastes, etc. otherwise life would be kinda boooring – right? Soooo, to handle these differences, we deviated a little bit from your strategy (where you say “we decided everything would be joint”). Sure, much of our financial stuff is “joint” but since day 1, besides having a joint chequing account for paying the bills, we each have had our own personal account (for individual personal discretionary spending). Keeping everything within realistic budget limitations, it’s all worked out pretty well for us using this approach, allowing us to each have a little bit of independence.

    • Reply Johnny September 30, 2013 at 2:07 am

      We’ve finally found a topic where we do things differently! Hah. We’ve mentioned before that we know lots of friends/family that prefer to do personal spending this way. If independence is important to one or both people, than this might be a good way to maintain it. We still feel like it was and is important for us to be on all of our accounts together, but that doesn’t mean we can/should scrutinize or question the others’ personal purchases. Because who am I to say that $50 on makeup is a waste of money (it is). Kidding…

  • Reply sarah October 2, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    so…any tips/advice when one partner makes significantly more than the other partner?

    • Reply Honey Smith October 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      When Jake made twice as much as I did, we split everything proportionally to income. So he paid 2/3, I paid 1/3.

    • Reply Johnny October 7, 2013 at 3:15 am

      Hrmmm. That’s tough. Joanna and I both started out making about the same in college. And we also went into our marriage with the understanding that what was mine was hers and vice versa. But we totally understand that other couple do it differently (like Honey’s comment above) and that’s totally awesome, too. There’s no one right way.

      That being said, whether it’s combined or separate income, you should still have goals that you share. And while it might take concessions to actually figure out what those goals look like, agreeing on them and both being invested in the most important thing. From there, you can figure out how to actually tackle them. And Honey’s advice seems like a great starting point.

  • Reply Honey Smith October 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    I linked to my GRS article where I debated this same issue! My husband and I still keep separate finances because his attitude drives me crazy. However, I know he’s getting frustrated that despite the fact that he used to make twice what I do and we had and similar starting debt levels, I have paid off a TON more debt than he has. Now that our salaries are almost identical (and we suspect I’m starting to out-earn him) and I am adding tons of cash to my savings account, I’m thinking this might be “the crisis of his own making.” Especially since he DESPERATELY wants to move to a different place (which is a much bigger deal for him since he works from home) and can’t afford half of deposit/moving costs. So we’ll see what happens!

    • Reply Johnny October 7, 2013 at 3:18 am

      Great perspective and great article. We’re always interested to hear how other couples manage separate finances since we don’t have much experience with that. Thanks for sharing!

    Leave a Reply