7 Money Lessons I've Learned From My Financially Anxious Partner

As I mentioned in last week’s post, when my husband and I first got married I was more of the “money” person in our relationship. He was happy to let me just handle the money and I was happy to put my skills into practice. And, if I’m honest, I think I was happy to keep control over at least one area of our relationship. Now, I’d like to share with you a few things that I’ve learned as I’ve relinquished control of our money life and started to listen.

Here are a few valuable lessons that I’ve learned from Mr. Classy Frugalist:

1.     It’s ok to spend money. Shout out to my other savers and givers out there – spending money isn’t something that comes easy to me. I met my husband when I was a grad student and I was just scraping by. Over the years, he has slowly taught me that it’s ok to spend money intentionally. And, you can use your spending to support the causes that you care about.

2.     Check the value, not the price. My husband consistently reminds me that it’s good to spend more on something that will hold its value over the longer-term rather than just going with the cheap option.

3.     Your whole life doesn’t have to be planned out today. I’m a planner and a budgeter. One of my favorite things to do is create our budget for the next year that encompasses our daily cash flow as well as our savings goals for that year. I know – nerd alert!! I love the feeling of control. My husband reminds me to be flexible – things will change. Our budget is a good guide, but it’s not set in stone.

4.     It’s difficult to be precise – estimate higher rather than lower. Similar to the last learning, you can’t know everything. I often ask my husband to put together estimates for our trips. He’ll generally give me a range of cost. My inclination is to double down on the lowest cost, but he often invites me to round up. Who’s ever been disappointed with money leftover after a trip – you already have money toward your next trip? Woohoo! But we’ve been in a tricky spot when I’ve underestimated and needed to take money away from other goals.

5.     Breathing room in your budget is a good thing. You don’t have to allocate every influx of cash the second that you get it. A little breathing room in your budget can help you better absorb unexpected expenses and take advantage of opportunities that you didn’t anticipate like a last minute concert, spur of the moment date night, or an extra night of vacation.

6.     Talking about money frequently can be exhausting. As you can probably sense, I LOVE to talk about money and that doesn’t stop when I leave work. My husband reminds me that we don’t have to talk about money all the time to be on the same page. That’s why we started Burgers & Budgets to help us talk about money intentionally, not just when tensions were high. When I have an interesting money question, or financial idea, I put it on the list for our next Burgers & Budgets meeting.

7.     Don’t tell me we’re in trouble unless we really are. Eek! I can’t tell you how many times I made this mistake. If your partner is more financially anxious, don’t cry wolf! Just because you think going under $1000 in your checking account is a little frightening, doesn’t mean you should worry your partner, especially if you know the problem will be fixed soon. It’s taken Mr. Classy Frugalist and I a long time to learn how to communicate our financial situation with one another. If you’re just starting out and your partner is financially anxious, ask them – when should I alert you to how we are doing financially and how should I do it? Too often, we cry wolf too early causing extra stress for our partner. Or, we’re too scared to talk with our partner so we don’t reach out until we’re drowning. Find a safe middle that feels comfortable for you both. 

Now I realize that I titled this post things I’ve learned from my financially anxious partner and if you had asked me when we got married I would have said that this was true of him. In the past 3.5 years, things have changed. My partner has become very comfortable talking about money not only with me, but with friends as well. He’s even started sharing his own money advice with others.

Today, if someone were to ask me who the money person is in our relationship I would have trouble answering that question. While I might handle more of the financial stuff day-to-day (i.e. – our budget, paying our bills, etc.), we create our financial goals together and chart the course together. He really is Mr. Classy Frugalist. I believe that he’s learned a lot about money from me, but I’ve also learned a lot about handling money from him. The joy (and sometimes the challenge) of marriage is finding a way to collaborate that allows both voices to be heard and engaged. It’s certainly not perfect, but I know coming together on our finances, rather than just compromising, has given us another opportunity to learn, grow, and lean into each other’s strengths.

What has your partner taught you about money? Share in the comments below.