Here's an email I received from a reader. It's a bit long, but an interesting read as it compares contrasting money styles among spouses:
I found your website by searching Google and started to read your posts every day. They are very practical and easy to understand. One of the most important messages that I get from you is having a partner who has the same saving habits as me. It hits me immediately. Then I realized that my husband is a person does not like to save money, or he likes to spend all this money if he has a chance.
We have been marrying for over 5 years and basically everything is fine except that we have different values of money. About 1.5 years ago, we moved across country because I've got a decent job. Unfortunately, he could only find a part-time teaching job here. So, he's making $1,000 a month and I'm making $60,000 a year.
We have $10,000 credit card debt, two student loans and a car payment. Renting a house for $1,045 a month. We were paying $1,200 a month to credit card last year, but now we can only afford $800 a month. However we should able to pay it off in a year. Although we have agreed to pay off the credit card as soon as possible, he still spent money at the same time. $20 here, $40 there…he could spend about $200-$250 a month for himself. Once a while, he would spend $300 for a WWII German Helmet too!!
Being over 50, have an advanced degree; he can only make $1,000 a month. It's not a good feeling and I understand it's hard for him too. I never say a word about how little money he earns because I don't want to hurt his feelings. But I don't understand why he couldn't considerate our financial situation and being discipline a little bit. Except the days he goes to school, he pretty much just stays at home. Every time I talk to him about money, he said he was bored at home and couldn't help buying stuff on the internet. Then he said he would watch money, but in a week or two, he would go buying things again.
I put all our expenses in a spreadsheet and check our accounts online every day to make sure that we will have enough money to pay bills. At the beginning I felt okay if he just spent $30. But now, after a year, I'm so tired of taking care of the money. Even a $20 spending will upset me now. I feel like a fool that I am the only one to watch money and seem I am the only one wanting to pay off the debt seriously.
A couple weeks ago, he put his stuff on eBay and he got about $1,000 from it. (However, he used our credit card to pay all the shipping charge and eBay charge.) Then, he quickly spent all this money on other toys that he wanted. He didn't think about helping to pay off the debt at all. He said I didn't ask him to sell his stuff to pay off the debt, that's why he sold his stuff for buying things that he wanted. I used the Christmas money from his parents to paying the debt and he said I just made him feel guilty to spend his Christmas money. Eventually, he did spend all his Christmas money for himself.
Since last couple of months, I have a feeling that I don't know how long I can stand for it. I realized that It's not the debt problem anymore, it's this man whether I really want to live any longer. Before I came to the US, I was a single, I had a good job that I liked, I had debt-free, I had good saving in my account. I even could lend the money to my sister paying for her down payment. I gave $500 a month to my parents and now I could give none. I missed the old time that I enjoyed the great feeling to know that I have saving in my account. On the other hand, is this a good reason to part away a marriage? Am I too sensitive and too serious? He said he would do better if he could get a full-time job, but I think that he would spend even more. I am just tired of arguing money with him and wonder why I couldn't have someone who understands the same money value as me. Or if I could be a single, I could handle the money in whatever way I wanted that I think I would be much happier. I don't want him to change for me but I don't want myself being unhappy either.
When we just got married, both he and I were going to school. We were supported by his family giving us a house for free and then we used student loan to support our living. I don't know if we could have done better if we have stayed in our old state. I know that I wouldn't get a job giving me $60,000 a year there. He could have stayed with his old job for $28,000 though. After all these years, I never complain to have debt again, but it's just difficult to know that my husband and I were actually going to two different directions. I can't do that just by myself. How can we go to the same destination together? More heart-breaking is he didn't think of us but himself, or I didn't think of myself but him?
I don't know what advice I wanted to get from you, maybe I just wanted to express my feelings to someone. I only have one good girl friend in the US -- all my family and friends are in another country. I don't want to talk about it with his family. I don't know how I should handle it. We were talking to move after we paid off the credit card where we might able to find a full-time job for both of us. If each of us can make $40,000 a year is still better than what we are having now. He might able to find some music gigs there for his own pocket money as well. I don't know if this is a good solution or if I could wait another year?
One good thing is all his credit cards will be paid off next month. He will only have his student loan under his name and I will take care of the rest. If one day I wouldn't take care of his money, at least I won't send him bankrupt like his ex-wife did. Now he even has a much better credit score than me.
I think the main question I wanted to ask is: Could different saving habits impact marriage?
Actually there are a lot of questions here. Do you have any advice for her?