It’s a tale as old as time: you’re in a relationship where one of you is a saver and one of you is a spender. I know – I’m in that relationship right now. I am as frugal as they come. I’m happy to eat in every night, wear thrift store clothes, and watch Netflix.
My boyfriend is by no means a flashy big spender, but he definitely enjoys meals out, date nights outside of our living rooms, and is generally more relaxed about spending money than I am.
I was really worried about coming off as cheap or a killjoy with my frugal ways when we began dating. I had to learn to share my frugal side with my partner.
As with any matter in a relationship, it’s important your partner understands being frugal is a part of you. When I was kicking my own butt trying to pay off my student loans earlier this year, it was a huge priority in my life. My boyfriend needed to understand that. In order to make it clear to him what I was doing and why I was doing it, I sat down with him and explained myself to him.
Be Open and Honest
I told him how much my loans stressed me out. I expressed the way I worked best was to throw everything I have at something, rather than to meter out effort slowly over a longer period of time. I told him it was important to me to regain control over my financial life. I shared my goals for my own financial future with him.
All of this information helped him understand I wasn’t being cheap or trying to stifle our fun together. I was working towards a goal that was going to impact my life for the better. I wasn’t trying to be controlling or mean. Once he understood where my frugality stemmed from, he understood why I would rather eat in than spend money on a dinner out.
Just because I prefer to eat in every night doesn’t mean I am totally opposed to spending money at a restaurant ever again. For example, I set a reservation at an amazing sushi place in town for our one year anniversary. I was excited to hit that milestone with him and wanted to celebrate with him.
We went at happy hour and had small plates as well as one glass of wine for me and one beer for him. With a compromise like going early to catch the happy hour deals, we still saved money, but didn’t have to spend our anniversary cooking our meal ourselves or doing any dishes. Plus we got free dessert!
Make sure to incorporate some of what your partner values into your own frugal set of spending rules. It can’t be your way all the time. Sharing your frugal side also means understanding their spendy side.
Plan in Advance
When you know an expense is coming up in a few weeks (or even months in advance), you can budget for it. Take a birthday for example. If your partner expects a gift from you for their birthday, you can budget out the money for it in advance. That way, you won’t interrupt your own goals, and you can still meet their expectations.
Planning in advance also ties into being honest. If you’re really strapped for cash or are closing in on your goal, you may or may not be able to spare the cash for a gift. Talk to your partner about it and see if they would be happy with a homemade gift or a free activity like a day exploring your city instead.
If there are specific financial issues in your relationship that stem from one of you being a spender and one of you being a saver, address those issues as they come up. Don’t let anything stew for too long! It will only make things worse, I promise.
If, for example, you hate that your partner leaves lights on when she leaves rooms (thus driving up the electricity bill), don’t start passive aggressively turning off every light in the house, even when she’s using them. Sit down and explain why that habit bothers you and show her how much it costs the both of you each month.
Explain yourself clearly and openly. This way your frugal side comes across as a reasonable part of you and your lifestyle, not as something that has a stranglehold on your mind. The most important thing to remember is you’re sharing a part of yourself with your partner. You want to present that side in a good light and have them be open to learning about a new side of you.
Have you been part of a saver/spender relationship? Which one were you? How did you make it work? What were the biggest challenges?