My significant other grew up in a entirely different world from mine in many dimensions: cultural, social, economic, and psychological.
I was born and raised in Asia, in a developing country. He was born and raised in the US, a developed country. When he needs something, he goes on Amazon. When I need something, I check craigslist and goodwill. He’s Caucasian; I’m Chinese. He went to a private college; I attended a public university. The list goes on.
While opposites attract, we have also worked through many conflicts because we don’t always see eye-to-eye on financial decisions. I think if two people as different as we are can work well as a team, any other couple can as well 🙂
It took us nearly a decade to converge on our financial goals and to we now enjoy working seamlessly in all aspects of our life, including finances.
Here are some things we did,
- Continual and open communication.
- Put each other’s interest above our respective own. He was very supportive during the grueling interview/audition rotation process. I was on the road for a good half of the year, and he was a single dad to our child. Since I started my internship, we agreed that it was his turn to foster his passion. We agreed that even if it is tight to support the 3 of us on internship income, he does NOT need to get a job just to help pay the bills. Rather, he should feel free to do whatever it takes to embark on his ideal professional career, whether that be more schooling or volunteering or a starter job.
- Take time to learn and understand where the other person is coming from, especially in regards to history and experiences during the first two decades of our lives prior to knowing each other. We have had such different upbringing that the apparent polar opposites are just the tips of icebergs. Patiently learning about each other’s past improves our relationship in many ways, beyond our financial partnership.
- Embrace each other’s (financial) idiosyncrasies, and use them as a assets to our team rather than liabilities. He spends money on 3 things (animals, beers, and cars) that I wouldn’t until I have 3 million dollars in the bank. I use to get really stressed out when he would spend “money we don’t have” on these items, but I came to realized that he is super-frugal and resourceful otherwise and that these things bring him happiness. He used to think I’m crazy with my incessant desire to be debt free. The intensity with which I pay down debt used to stress him out. But he started to see the financial freedom I was talking about all the time and now is totally on board with paying down debt and minimizing interests. He actively finds ways to help me reduce debt 🙂
- For the larger items and major goals in our life, we touch base frequently and stay open to each other’s new ideas.
- We make compromises and sacrifices, knowing that we are building a better future for our whole family.
- Write numbers down. We both can see/edit our comprehensive excel sheet of debts and assets.
- Divide and conquer. I work 80+ hr week. He is currently a stay at home dad. He handles the bills, shops for the family, and finds deals/coupons.
- We update our budget together. He provides the data; we make the plan; we execute the plan together and hold each other accountable. For instance, we agree that we can only eat out ONCE every month. When I falter and say let’s eat out a second time this month, he makes me a delish BLT and home-made popcorn for a family movie on our sofa.
Even though we still disagree from time to time,
we are on the same path, holding hands.
We both work hard, albeit in different ways, to build a better future for our kid, our parents, and ourselves.
- Do your spouse and you agree on financial decisions?
- Do your strengths and weaknesses compliment each other’s?
- Does your (doctor’s wife/husband) expect things from you that you don’t agree with?
- How do you collaborate with your partner financially?