The Best Piece of Financial Advice I Ever Got as a Married Person

My husband and I have big plans for our house. He dreams of a new water softening system, a deck that spans the length of our house, and a motorized garage door. I want a double-wide sink, an electric stove with duel ovens, and a pool in our backyard. Our dreams are big, and also very different. But each of our goals has made it onto our list of house plans, prioritized according to necessity. Despite our very different plans, we both have the same dream. How do we manage it?

Several years ago, I picked up a piece of marital advice that changed the way my husband and I approached finances forever. Do you want to know our secret?

Never say “no” to your spouse’s purchasing desires. Doesn’t sound possible? Consider how it works, and then try it for yourself. You might never have another argument about finances again.

So what are the rules?

1. Respect your spouse’s purchasing desires. Don’t say “no” just because it’s not a priority or you don’t want it yourself. If your spouse really wants something, that makes it worthwhile. His dreams are your dreams, and vice versa.

2. Compromise when your financial dreams contradict each other (i.e. if your husband wants a pool in the backyard, you want a play gym, and only one will fit). This is the biggest exception to the “never say ‘no’” rule. If your dreams conflict, compromise will be necessary. How you choose to do that is up to you. Need vs. want might play a role, or else alternating when conflict arises.

3. Prioritize your desired purchases by need, and then according to want. My husband and I have a running list of our financial dreams. At the top of that list, you can find our needs. When our furnace guy told us that our HVAC system was on death’s door, it went from halfway down the list to the very top. Our list is first prioritized by need, and then by want. Our lists of wants is organized according to several factors: who wants it (shared goals generally rank higher, with separate goals alternating), expense (smaller goals generally rank higher than more expensive ones), and level of desire (the things we want more usually have a higher priority).

4. Create a plan of attack for making your dreams a reality. Create a budget and set aside some money each month for your plans. Just how much you set aside will depend on how quickly you want to accomplish your goals and how much money you realistically have to set aside. But with moderation in spending and wisdom in saving, you and your spouse can make your dreams a reality!

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