Your Spouse: Financial Teammate or Financial Enemy?

by Kevin on January 11, 2010

Last week I was blessed enough to celebrate three years of marriage with my amazing wife. Not only has marriage just been awesome, but I am very blessed to be married to a woman that is on the same financial page as I am. She is a true financial teammate.

How This Married Team Works

We work together on financial issues.

Yes, I take the lead on financial issues because I know more about the topic. But this isn’t a dictatorship. We talk and resolve any issues before moving forward.

We implement the plan together.

Even though I love personal finance and spend a lot of time immersing myself in the subject, I do have moments of weakness… like the time I wanted to sell my car and buy a 6+ year old BMW M Coupe.

We talk out mistakes.

You will never implement the perfect plan. You will make mistakes. Get used to it.

As I’m sure many football and basketball coaches have said to their teams: it isn’t the mistake, it is how you react to the mistake.

How the Other Team Plays

But what if…

  • your spouse isn’t a teammate?
  • they aren’t supportive?
  • they don’t care about budgeting, investing for the future, or retirement?

Not everyone is as lucky as I am.

In my next article I’ll show you the huge risks of living with a financial enemy. Stay tuned.

Is your spouse a teammate or enemy when it comes to your finances? Leave a comment below.

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Ken January 11, 2010 at 5:02 am

MY wife is a teammate for sure. We make most of our financial decisions together. I’m glad we are where we are.

Megan January 11, 2010 at 9:58 am

I am so, so thankful that Josh is on the same financial page as me. I am a saver, and I married a saver (although we are different degrees of “savers”).

I know a couple where he is a spender, and she’s a saver. They fight a lot – he goes out for lunch every day and buys himself toys without batting an eye, while she brown-bags it and does without for a long, long time. It’s to the point where they’re in couples therapy.

Joseph January 11, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Obviously this subject is the gretest killer of marriage and relationships, i do not think it is because one is a teammate and the otherone is the enemy. I in most cases it comes down to how often couples talk about their finance.
Talk, Talk, Talk, and then Talk and Talk, and Talk about your finances.
We do all these talking more than twice a week and it puts us on the same page everytime.


Steve in Denmark January 12, 2010 at 3:14 am

My wife and I talk just about everything over, but it’s me that looks after the day-to-day running of our finances. I’ve told her, that she must appreciate that I will, a lot of the time, be a kill-joy, saying ‘no’, but that I have our best interests and financial future in my sights.
As I (now) have an interest in our finances, I guess she has the (quite right) attitude of ‘you don’t have a dog and bark yourself’, and leaves the details to me. She helps out in areas where I don’t yet have much expertise – Danish finances can differ subtly and sometimes substantially, from England (I’m from England, she’s Danish, we live in Denmark). I suppose you could say that I often ask the questions and she finds the answers.
There is a tv programme here called ‘Luksusfælden’ (‘fall from luxury’ pretty much), where two economists/financial advisors take on, and attempt to provide solutions to families’ financial problems. This always involves a thorough going-through of their spending and the implementation of a budget – as advised here on NDP. One thing I’ve noticed is that in 9 out of 10 cases, it is the financial problems that are causing any marital ones. And often, it’s the woman who is in charge of the finances (before ‘help’ comes) and the man who often is ‘ligeglad’, or doesn’t care/know. The woman often wants to know that her man does care and if it isn’t always her wish that he takes over the running of the finances, she at least wants to know that he understands and takes an interest in helping solve their problems. When the advisors return to see how it’s going (after a month or so), the man has, more often than not, taken over the finances, the woman is much happier – even if she is no longer able to buy all the shoes she wishes – and they always report that all other aspects of their relationship have improved no end.

Kim January 12, 2010 at 8:47 am

I have lived 21 years with a non saver. Unfortunately it’s how he has been taught. He has credit card addition. So his mom, and brothers. Life is very hard. When I asked him for a divorce, his reply was “there will be no money, no child support, no alimony”. We have done the counseling route, however if one is not able to open up it does not work. You can not change him unless he truly wants to change. People like that are very selfish people. They put themselves first.

Kevin January 12, 2010 at 1:22 pm

This makes me sad for you.

I wonder what Dave Ramsey would say… maybe you should call him?

It definitely sounds like a bad situation. Sorry to hear that.

Golfing Girl January 12, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I was very fortunate to find a like minded spouse when it comes to money. I had NO idea how important this was to the success of a marriage. I just lucked out quite frankly. We’ve been married 9 years and are 33/35. I still remember how offended I was when he suggested a credit check for both of us when we were engaged–but that’s because I was naive, had no debt, and assumed everyone else was the same!

When we met, we were both pretty much in the middle of the financial road, however I was slightly more of a spender and he was more of a saver. Although we still have those tendencies, we’re definitely closer to being at the same point on the line now.

We never argue about money (and never have) but I believe it’s because we came up with simple ground rules that worked for both of us:
-Discuss any single purchases over $100
-Combined finances (no mine or yours–it’s all ours)
-Everything is on the table, we both have access to all accounts
-We hold monthly or quarterly goal readjustment “meetings”

I honestly don’t know how couples who aren’t like minded with finances can have a successful marriage. It would be extremely challenging.

Kim January 12, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Golfing Girl,
I have been giving the advice for a long time now. When engaged take a credit report on each other and go through it. However I have not actually met anyone that has done it. Tell your husband GREAT JOB, you got off to a good start by doing that.

Golfing Girl January 12, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I am very sorry for your situation, as I could have easily fallen into the same trap myself when I think of all the other guys I dated before meeting my husband. I will make sure that I share this wisdom with my kids when they are older (if they’ll listen).

Beth January 13, 2010 at 10:50 am

My experience is similar to yours. I considered my husband very much a spender, not a saver. For almost all of our marriage I am the one who has handled the money. I decided several years ago to get out of debt. We had some student loans, and some credit card debt. I went to the Davey Ramsey Financial Peace University but my husband didn’t. I started implementing the Dave Ramsey plan, but didn’t include my husband. Instead, I started dictating what was going to happen fnancially in our home. I went to a straight cash basis, got rid of my credit cards, and put us on a tight budget, all without involving my husband. I thought he either didn’t care or wouldn’t want to participate. I found out later that he had run up some very substantial credit card debt. We had a huge fight. He told me why he had gotten into debt, and said he wanted to become involved in our family finances. I was very reluctent to let him because I didn’t trust him. He lost his job, took another that paid him a lot less, and unfortunately for us, he used credit cards again to try and pay bills, and make sure I had the money I told him I needed each month. You can imagine how angry I was at him. To his credit, he decided to take the Dave Ramsey classes. He asked me if I would go with him, but because I had already gone through the classes, and because I was so angry at him, I told him no. To his credit, he did go to the classes finished the course. After he was done, we decided to try and save our marriage by working together on finances. At our first budget meeting, I got incredibly angry at him. I said a lot of hurtful things, and ended up leaving the house because I couldn’t stand being around him. After I cooled of I came home and apologized, but the damage had been done. He stopped talking to me about our finances and withdrew into a shell. I decided that I would talk to him, and give it one more try even though I felt justified in everything I had said to him, and had no confidence he would not go back to his old ways. I am glad I did. I’m still angry about how he handled credit cards, but I’ve come to understand that for the most part his heart was in the right place even if his actions were completely wrong. For the last couple of years we have been working very hard to get out of debt following the Dave Ramsey methods. I have found that working with him instead of being critical of him has made a world of difference in our lives. I didn’t think he would change or that he even wanted to change, but I was wrong. What it really took was a lot of love on my part, a willingness to not be as critical as I had been, and a lot of patience. If your husband hasn’t gone to the Dave Ramsey classes, encourage him to go, and go with him. If he hasn’t approached you about working together, go talk to him. If you haven’t told him you love him, tell him, even if its hard to do, and even if you don’t completely mean it. Believe me it is worth the effort. Good luck

Beth January 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm

I really enjoy this site and the good comments and articles. Keep up the good work.

Tashena Lynette Gonzales January 15, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Kim I feel your pain, my husband sounds very similar. Yesterday he called me to say he would like drive 35 minutes to another city to pick up some special chair because he has extra money. Today he wants to go to the movies even though we have plans tomorrow that I’ve spent money on. Try not to get upset control as much of the finances as you can be patient and keep explaining things to him. He also forgot to call for unemployment and that will be late. I told him how we need that money because we have a $300 heat bill. I just keep reminding him of our bills and the money we need. Another thing I am steadily lowering our expenses. He has his personal account and we have a joint one. If I start spending less and less on groceries and other expenses that gives me more in groceries. So keep ready these frugal blogs and learning and growing I too am excited to hear the part about what if your partner is not your teammate but your enemy.

Candy Huner January 16, 2010 at 6:05 am

My husband have been married 21 years and I have to say we are finally on the same page. Dave Ramsey has really taught us and we wish we would have learned when we were younger. God’s Blessings!

Beth January 19, 2010 at 12:53 am


I’m with you. We are finally on the same page and it is great. Keep working on your husband Kim and don’t give up.

Golfing Girl January 19, 2010 at 10:23 am

Wow– a lot of Dave Ramsey fans. Our financial epiphany occurred the night we heard Dave Ramsey on the radio. That spurred us to get rid of $50K in debt and build our first emergency fund. Even though we were on the same team, it took Dave Ramsey to give us a game plan.

Kevin January 21, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Great comments everyone. It’s really great to read that most of you are enjoying successful financial management with your significant other. To those that aren’t, best of luck — that’s a tough battle unfortunately.

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