“I Hide Money From My Wife”

by Mr. 1500 - Published August 30, 2017

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[As part of our weekly column by Mr. 1500 of 1500Days.com – a fellow blogger who retired at 43!]

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At a recent party, I had a very interesting conversation with an old and good friend (I’ll call him Jeff). It started when Jeff asked me how my work was going. Jeff had no idea that I had quit my job. He also didn’t know about my blog or stealth wealth, but I had a couple strong beers in me already and felt bold, so I let loose:

  • Jeff: How’s life? How’s work?
  • Me: Well actually, I don’t work anymore. At least not at a typical job.
  • Jeff: What? Really!? May I ask what happened?
  • Me: It’s a long story, but the short version is this: I had a really bad day at work back in 2012. After that, working until 65 or even 55 sounded like a miserable proposition. I figured out how much money I would need and then made a plan to reach it. At the same time, I started a blog to document the journey. I’ve since reached my goal, so I left my job. I enjoyed working on the blog so much that I continue to do that.
  • Jeff: What’s the blog called?
  • Me: 1500 Days.

Quick note: I’m much less secretive than I used to be. Major media coverage blew our cover a long time ago, so I don’t care much anymore. And even after telling people about the blog, not many bother to read it (EDITOR’S NOTE: My friends still ask me what my blog is called too – despite telling them every year for 9 years+! I find the only ones who actually care are those who are serious about their $$$…)

Back to our conversation:

  • Jeff: Wow, that’s incredible!
  • Me: Yeah, life is good! And one thing I want to stress is that financial freedom isn’t about not working; it’s about working at what you love. I make a little money from the blog, but my real paycheck is happiness.
  • Jeff: Wow, you know I hide money from Julie? She likes to spend, but I’m a saver too. So, I take the money and invest it.

I had already known that Jeff was good with money because of previous conversations, but hearing that he hid money from his wife surprised me. I’ve heard of spouses hiding money, but it’s always to keep a bad spending habit secret. Before this conversation, I had never heard of a spouse hiding money to invest!

The story got stranger later that night, but I have to tell you about my friends first.

Jeff And Julie

My wife and I met Jeff and Julie about 10 years ago. They were newly married and in many ways, their lives mirrored ours. We were both young couples who had just had our first child. We hung out together until we both moved away. Now, we live near each other again.

I’ve always considered myself fortunate to know them. They are kind, giving, smart and hard working. They have adopted two children they met through the fostering program. I trust both of them like I trust few others.

So, it makes me sad that they’re not on the same page financially. I’ve seen lesser marriages disintegrate over similar issues.

Later That Night…

Julie was at the party too. A couple hours later, Jeff started up the conversation again, but this time Julie was by his side:

  • Jeff: That’s so cool that you’ve got your finances together. Julie and I aren’t quite on the same page. I like to save and she…
  • Julie: I LOVE to spend money!
  • Jeff: See? That’s why I have to hide it from her.
  • Julie: It’s just that spending money feels good!

Another quick note: This conversation was strange and made me slightly uncomfortable, but their tone wasn’t antagonistic. Both were smiling. In the past, I probably would have conjured up a lengthy lecture, thinking I could teach a lesson. Now I realize people don’t enjoy lectures, so I tried to gently add my two cents without being overbearing:

  • Me: I think you both know where I fall in this argument. It’s OK to spend money, but you should take care of your future first. Spending will provide you with short-term happiness, but financial freedom is forever. And let me tell you; it feels pretty [email protected] good!

I let it go and the conversation moved on to something else.

Where Do Jeff And Julie Go Now?

A couple days after the party, both Jeff and Julie liked my blog’s facebook page. Jeff shared one of my posts on social media a couple days after that, so I know they’re paying attention to my online ramblings.

And it’s occurred to me that they might read this. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I don’t want to hurt them in any way and I don’t think they’d be offended, but you never know. If they see this, I hope it sparks more communication between them. They’re already pretty good at that, but more never hurts.

Money is simple and complex all at the same time. At the most basic level, we work and get paid. We take that money and fund our basic needs like shelter, food, and clothing. After that, it gets more complicated. Certain folks like Jeff and me value the security that money provides, so we save it. Others get a similar sense of security, or maybe comfort, from spending.

Jeff and Julie have different ideas of how they want to spend their money. I think that they’ll be OK, but why be OK when you could be great?

How about You?

This conversation made me wonder how many couples are on the same financial page. Money is often cited as a contributing factor to marriage failure. Another friend went through a divorce recently and confided that differences in finances were a major factor in the split.

I’m thankful that my wife and I are compatible in money. If we break up, it will be for something ridiculous like the thermostat setting. Hey, don’t laugh, I’m serious!

Jeff and Julie: If you are listening, know that I’m here for you.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: I actually didn’t feel like this was the worst system in the world? It seems they both know each other pretty well, and although financially it would be better if *both* were on the investing side of things, it’s not like Jeff’s really “hiding it” is he? Julie knows he’s doing it, so it’s kinda working for them… I invest our money all the time without telling my wife the details, but she knows I’m doing it and never has to worry about it. I just lucked out that she happens to be a saver more so than a spender :)

In fact, maybe all Julie needs is a “Spend Whatever The Hell You Want” type budget where each month she gets $XXX to have fun with? So she gets to feel good throwing it around, but Jeff gets to keep doing the investing? As long as their ultimate goals are being met in the end, I don’t see a problem spending money freely if it’s within reason and truly makes you happy… I think that’s the main variable missing here w/ the story – are they both on the same track with what they want in the future? Not everyone wants to retire super early like us nerds ;)

Mr. 1500 writes the Wednesday column here at Budgets Are Sexy, and is the founder of his own financial blog, 1500Days.com. He hit financial freedom at the age of 43 with $1,800,000, and stops by here to share his thoughts on finance, frugality, and life in early retirement.

{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

1 carlotta August 30, 2017 at 5:20 am

This is so interesting! I agree with you J Money, they seem happy and in balance and like they don’t need any help. I think in a lot of couples there is a “spender” and a “saver” and while it would be easier for the couple to be on the same page, this doesn’t necessarily mean constant fight about it. ( it probably means *some* fights …I should know , as the “saver” I get scolded fairly often for my thrifty manners)

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2 J. Money August 30, 2017 at 6:45 am

Haha… My wife is probably the “saver” in our family, though interestingly outside of that she hates talking or thinking about money – so we make a good combo :) She helps keep my frugality in check more, but I get to manage it all for us – woohoo!

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3 Lance @ My Strategic Dollar August 30, 2017 at 8:03 am

This is probably true. Generally, there probably is a spender and a saver in each relationship, at least relative to each other. But you’re right, what’s the point of arguing about it? I think getting on the same page is the best thing you can do and then revisit the conversation if it becomes an issue.

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4 Ms. Frugal Asian Finance August 30, 2017 at 9:59 am

Both my husband and I are savers (I’m the more frugal one). But sometimes he spends a little bit more than I’d be comfortable with. And that’s when we start a conversation about money.

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5 Joe August 30, 2017 at 10:14 am

We’re really lucky because we are both pretty frugal. The missus spends more than I do on clothing, but that’s okay with me.
Good luck to Jeff and Julie. Hopefully, they will work on their finance together at some point. It’d be much easier if they have the same goals.

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6 Renea August 30, 2017 at 11:23 am

I’m getting married soon, and I’m definitely the saver in my relationship! The husband-to-be is amused when I agonize over buying something, but I think I made a breakthrough with him the other day. He asked if I’d like to go out to breakfast and I said, “Neh, I don’t want to trade my money for just that.” He goes, “I honestly never thought about it like that”.

#winning

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7 Mr. 1500 August 30, 2017 at 3:28 pm

#awesome! How wonderful does it feel to get through to him? :)

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8 Renea August 31, 2017 at 1:55 pm

It felt amazing!!! I was shocked. I actually said, “is that really all it took?”

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9 Ember @ An Intentional Lifestyle August 30, 2017 at 6:29 am

When my husband and I got together, we were definitely not on the same financial page. I wasn’t a crazy spender, but I was and am typically more the spender in our relationship. It wasn’t until we really sat down (post baby #1) and he shared how stressed he was knowing how we had debt and no real budget or plan to deal with our finances.

I can’t understand fully because I think men were created with natural instinct to provide for the family, but as much as I can, I do. We worked to pay off debt and then moved on to FIRE. I think the main thing is that you have to be completely honest with eachother. Maybe Julie doesn’t realize why he feels saving is important. If she did, she may be on board. And like you said, she would possibly be content with a fun budget allotted to her monthly to spend on what she wants.

I think the biggest thing is that they do need to be on the same page. If something were to happen to him, how would she know what to do with the finances if she doesn’t even know where are the money is? And how could she manage the money if she never had any help or training from someone who loves her enough to teach her?

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10 J. Money August 30, 2017 at 6:47 am
11 Debbie August 30, 2017 at 8:15 am

This is a good point. My husband wants NOTHING to do with finances/our check book. I do worry if something happened to me, what would happen. When I met him, he had bounced so many checks, he closed his checking account & paid all his bills with money orders after cashing his paycheck. His credit score was shot. His mortgage was 9% interest due to bad credit. In checking yesterday, his credit score is 804 & now our mortgage interest rate is 3.75%. It took awhile but I finally straightened it all out. He has a general idea of our finances. The only $$ I “hide” is not telling him how much cash we have on account with our credit cards (I’m letting it accumulate for a vacation or a big purchase some day).

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12 Mr. 1500 August 30, 2017 at 8:32 am

Clearly, two wrongs do not make a right! My wife isn’t bad with finances, but she also couldn’t care less about them.

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13 J. Money August 30, 2017 at 11:16 am

Debbie – wow!!!

“he had bounced so many checks, he closed his checking account & paid all his bills with money orders after cashing his paycheck”

That’s sooooo much more effort than just fixing the problem! Haha… Though he gets major creative points for that one, can’t say I’ve ever heard that before :)

Way to turn the situation around!

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14 Debbie August 30, 2017 at 1:48 pm

He would cash his paycheck at the bank, hand all his bills to the teller & she’d issue the money orders. He said he’d rather sleep on a bed of nails for a year than deal with a check book, LOL One good thing when I met him, he had been contributing the full amount to his 401K. Anything payroll deducted is his style!
PS his ex wife was also irresponsible & they ended up in bankruptcy/divorce. 2 people who can’t handle a check book is a perfect recipe for disaster!

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15 J. Money August 31, 2017 at 6:10 am

Oh damn… glad it’s all better now and he doesn’t have to touch that checkbooks still ;)

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16 Mrs. Adventure Rich August 30, 2017 at 7:30 am

I am very fortunate to be mostly on the same page as Mr. Adventure Rich. Finances became a common topic of conversation while we were dating (thank goodness!), so it is an ongoing discussion for us. We may not agree on every single point, but we talk it through and come to a decision together. Its been a good mix so far :)

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17 Mr. 1500 August 30, 2017 at 8:33 am

Communication is EVERYTHING!

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18 FIREin' London August 30, 2017 at 7:47 am

I am so glad it isn’t just me who does this! :)
It is difficult – I am saving like mad so that neither of us have to work, but I know my other half enjoys “lifes little luxuries” (although what could be more luxurious than not having to work?!).

We are more open about the finances, but I feel still a long way to go, and I don’t know if we will ever get on the same page completely. We both earn our own money and neither dictates what the other can or can’t do with it. I save and invest, she spends (although slowly starting to see the benefit of saving).
It is compounded by the fact that there is a significant difference in our salaries – having said that after housing and bills, I know she spends more than I do.

For me, it is time, patience and, as you say, communications that will keep things going. We are still together, but it does cause friction at times but sounds like Jeff and Julie have got it working well!
Cheers,
FiL

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19 J. Money August 30, 2017 at 11:19 am

“What could be more luxurious than not having to work?!” – TRUTH!!!!

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20 Rogue Dad, M.D. August 30, 2017 at 10:04 pm

Great post and discussion!

I am very appreciative of the FIRE mentality and it has made make me look at our finances a little differently. I am also more of the saver than my wife and have harped on her for little expenses. However I disagree a bit with the above statements. Working provides many benefits, particularly if you enjoy your work. I admittedly don’t always enjoy mine, but I also am not convinced I would enjoy being retired at 37. I will love reaching FI, but I may not use it to RE.

Below is a link to my thoughts a few months ago on the same topic. I think I’ve already evolved a little since writing it.

http://www.roguedadmd.com/2017/05/love-and-marriage-and-money/

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21 Belle August 30, 2017 at 7:47 am

We flip flop positions depending on the day. But, for the most part he is the saver, I am the “big” purchaser. But, he usually talks me out of my possibly poor spending decision (if I let him know) and I usually listen.

We’re jellying a good thing over here.

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22 Jacq August 30, 2017 at 7:47 am

My ex wasn’t great with money, and it’s become one of the things I look for but phrased as ‘having ones act together’.
When I told him I’d kept enough money in savings for a deposit on an apartment (so we wouldn’t have to move in with any of our parents), his reply was that he could have used that money for bills. And we didn’t have combined finances. Things ended, I had money for an apartment, I’ve been doing fine. He eventually went through foreclosure and moved in with his dad. (Friends morbidly insist on keeping me up to date).
For me finances are definitely a factor for future partners.

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23 Mr. 1500 August 30, 2017 at 8:34 am

I’m sorry to hear this story Jacq. I don’t know how much of a factor money was in breaking up your marriage, but I’ve seen it happen more than once.

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24 Jacq August 30, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Thank goodness it was long time dating not marriage. His reason for ending it was he ‘needed a partner not a secretary’. Plus after 7 years of dating he still wasn’t sure if he wanted to marry me. Better for us both to end things if that was the case.
I thought partners helped fill the gaps where one person wasn’t strong (like english vs math vs science vs history in school). *shrug* I’m happy now, and working on FI. :)

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25 Manda August 30, 2017 at 8:49 am

I know exactly what you are saying. After my divorce i met a wonderful man who would have been good for me except that money went through his fingers like water. I knew deep down in my gut that I would not be able to change him in ny way. My goal was to pay off my divorce legal fees, build up my reatirement accounts and pay off the house. Sadly, I had to end the relationship. We parted amicably and are still friends. I have reached all my goals, learned how to invest and have a very comfortable retirement account now. He, on the other hand, has been in foreclosure twice and this third time, he will sell his home at a significant loss and become semi homeless. Very sad….

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26 J. Money August 30, 2017 at 11:21 am

Ugh…. makes it even worse that he’s a great guy too! At least be an a$$hole or something so it feels more like karma, right? :)

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27 Mr. Freaky Frugal August 30, 2017 at 7:51 am

Fortunately, Mrs. Freaky Frugal and I have similar spending habits. We’re both, well, Freaky Frugal.

But that hasn’t always been the case. We did have J. Money’s idea of separate Fun Money accounts for awhile. We’d put a certain amount of money in each Fun Money savings account each month and we could each spend it any way that we wanted. We don’t do that anymore for various reasons I explained in a post on budgeting.

I’m with J. Money on this – they don’t really have a problem if their odd system works and both are happy.

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28 Ms. Frugal Asian Finance August 30, 2017 at 7:52 am

Wow this is such a refreshing perspective about hiding money from a spouse. I don’t hide any money from my hubby, but I think he will be ok with whatever I invest in as long as I give him a good reason. He already knows I’m risk-averse, frugal, and careful with our spending, so I think he trusts me enough to handle our money.

Case in point: I want to pay off our house and save 20% for our rental, and he also thinks it’s a good idea.

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29 Apathy Ends August 30, 2017 at 7:53 am

My wife is definitely more of a spender than me, and I change investments/allocations/withdrawals without telling her (mostly because her eyes glaze over when words like “portfolio allocation” comes out of my mouth) but she trusts me and reads our quarterly net worth report now!

We are on the same page on FIRE, she just doesn’t care about the vehicle as much.

It doesn’t sound like they are struggling marriage wise, but a few long term goal convos might help. I like J Money’s guilt free spend idea after they save enough to hit goals.

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30 Mr. 1500 August 30, 2017 at 8:36 am

“It doesn’t sound like they are struggling marriage wise, but a few long term goal convos might help.”

Yeah, I don’t think they’ll split up, but it makes me sad because I think they could be happier.

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31 super August 30, 2017 at 10:26 am

Honestly,I think you’re doing a bit of that thing where extroverts think introverts must be sad alone because the extrovert would be. If that makes sense. Savers don’t get spenders, and vice versa. Being a spender can work with financial freedom, though obviously it’s harder!

In my family, I’m the spender. I buy groceries, toiletries, clothes, kid items. I schedule and pay for (a frugal) vacation. A lot of what I buy is not fun, it’s required stuff.

But I also love fashion, audiobooks (almost all through the library, but sometimes book 4 of a series isn’t available free), lots of books for my kid, and experimenting with new recipes that work with my health conditions, and random new obsessions like veggie spiralizing. That stuff is fun stuff, and I love it.

But here’s the thing – I get to enjoy that stuff. We’re doing what we need to, saving wise. We could do better, which is why I keep working on my spending, but we save 30% of our salaries in a place with a high COL. Being a spender is ok, if saving is also happening.

Just a reminder that savers are not the virtuous, and spenders the damned. :)

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32 Leo T. Ly August 30, 2017 at 7:57 am

I think that the actual question is how much money is being spent and how much it’s being saved. I don’t think that it’s okay to spend more than half of what is left over after necessary expenses is OK.

Spending is a bad habit that’s really hard to manage, especially when you are close to retirement and you have been spending for years. By that time I can’t imagine how hard it would be to curb your spending.

Spending money is easy, saving for the future is not and it takes discipline.

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33 Brian August 30, 2017 at 8:07 am

I guess the good part of Jeff and Julie story is that Julie is aware of the issue and that Jeff is openly hiding the money. He’s not breaking her trust. Sounds like a good starting point for getting on the same page. If he was doing this behind her back, that could lead to a whole bunch of other issues. I wish them luck.

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34 Eileen August 30, 2017 at 8:11 am

Right, if he said that right in front of her, it’s not really a secret. It sounds like he pulls the saving off the top and she has some sort of budget for spending.

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35 Mr. 1500 August 30, 2017 at 8:38 am

It was a strange couple of conversations. I don’t think that she cares about money as long as there is enough to shop with. I’m still not completely sure I understand the dynamic, but I was also hesitant to pry.

We know they’ve had small issues in the past and have offered to help.

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36 super August 30, 2017 at 9:23 am

Exactly. He’s not actually hiding money, they have hit on a system that works with their wiring. She loves to spend money she has, so he makes sure it doesn’t go into the general pot and instead goes to long term. Their system is fine, though they could keep tweaking.

I get the spender thing! I am currently stalking on Etsy: detachable embroidered collars, to go over sweaters without the bulk of a shirt, a wooden front end loader for my kid, and a robot shirt.

My husband and I have together tried different things to work with my spender wiring – eg monthly Amazon giftcards of a certain amount, charting cash & net worth on a bulletin board next to the tv (with pretty paper so it can be turned around for guests). But at the end of the day, no debt, save 30% of our income, we’re doing ok.

Hiding money is what my *ex* husband did halfway through the divorce: ‘oh hey, you know that big side job I do? All that money goes into a secret bank account that I kept hidden for the past decade. But it’s my money anyway, not shared, so no need to put it in the divorce paperwork.’ I mean, honestly,I would have crawled away with nothing, so fine, but it wasn’t until later that I realized he had been using that pot of money for secret activities, almost surely cheating, for years. THAT, Mr 1500, is financial cheating.

(Also, I’m doing great – lots of lovely therapy and building healthy boundaries and choices into my life.)

I think the 1500s’friends are fine, though of course they can always do better.

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37 J. Money August 30, 2017 at 11:39 am

ACK!!! Freaky about that secret account!!

(You cracked me up on that robot shirt though haha….)

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38 Mr. 1500 August 30, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Super, you call yourself a spender and you may be, but it sounds like you’re doing it mindfully with attention to the bottom line.

It’s when the bottom line is ignored that bad things start happening. I’ve see far too many people who bring in X, but spend 1.1X. It’s unsustainable and when it blows up, life gets really ugly really fast.

Part of the issue here that I didn’t discuss in the article (and I should have) is that I’ve seen a couple subtle cries of financial pain on social media. I have no idea how deep their issues are (and maybe they’re not really that deep), but I can tell that they’ve been in financial pain. I don’t like to see my friends suffer.

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39 Amy @ Life Zemplified August 30, 2017 at 8:23 am

Fortunately, my husband and I are on the same financial page. I do all the money stuff and keep him informed. The thermostat setting is another story.

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40 Budget on a Stick August 30, 2017 at 8:27 am

I’m the spender for sure in the relationship. Ms Blue Ribbon came from an extremely frugal family.

We were able to get into our debt mess because she is easily convinced by my half baked ideas. I had to get better and she had to be more questionable when it came to spending.

We are much better now but we still have our moments. Her vice is always impulse shopping in the store and mine was finding deals online. Thats why i do the grocery shopping now-adays and she does the amazon orders ;)

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41 super August 30, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Lol, good solution!

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42 Balanced Dividends Mike August 30, 2017 at 8:30 am

While my wife and I do have different spending habits (I tend spend less), we try to actively work on communication and transparency. Like anything else in marriage (or life for that matter), it’s an ongoing skill that needs practice and refinement.

I do wish we invested and saved more at times, but my wife is great at finding a balance. I’d probably go to work with holes in my shirts, but I do remember to consider my image. That doesn’t mean I buy the most expensive items. My wife also looks for ways to spend less when we do need to purchase items.

Are we FIREs? Not really. I’d consider wanting to save +50-70% of our income; we do about 20-25%, but we’re happy with a balanced approach. We’re also looking for ways to create additional income streams, but we’re not literally hiding money in order to make it happen (or hiding for spending purposes)

Interesting post – thanks for sharing.

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43 J. Money August 30, 2017 at 11:44 am

Glad you enjoyed it :) What I love most about this from Mr 1500, even though we have our separate opinions, is that it’s opening up discussions around $$$. Which is the point of blogs! So I’m thrilled to see so much activity going on so far – thanks for helping add to it.

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44 Elle August 30, 2017 at 8:34 am

Marriage and money -ooooh, one of my favorite topics :)

While I’m happy that Jeff’s not keeping Julie in the dark, I think the two of them could enjoy things more now and still stash away for their future if they got on the same page.

As someone who leans towards spending, I’d love to get Julie’s take on their FI plans. For me, once I saw it firmly, I began to save more. Having a clear goal to work towards made me reevaluate where I spent and where I saved.

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45 Nancy S. August 30, 2017 at 8:43 am

Is it really hiding if she knows he’s doing it? Seems like it’s more that he invests it before she has a chance to spend it. Like an envelope budget system. You can spend whatever’s left in the checking account. It sounds like they have things set up pretty well actually. And they both seem pretty happy with the setup. I agree with other commenters that a lot of relationships have a spender and a saver. It’s not always a problem.

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46 Mr. 1500 August 30, 2017 at 11:08 am

It was a strange conversation.

I don’t think it’s a problem now, but I worry about them down the road. Little problems like these can turn into monsters sometimes…

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47 Sara August 30, 2017 at 11:15 am

This is my thought too. I suppose technically I “hide” money from my husband–but it’s at his request. We have yours/mine/ours bank accounts, and his direct deposit is divided between his “fun money” account and the account I use for savings, paying the bills, etc. He knows about the account, has the log-in information in case something ever happens to me, and has never once logged in because he likes the money to be out-of-sight, out-of-mind. He’s frugal if he looks at his bank account and only sees a few hundred dollars, but the sight of our emergency fund would make him feel like he doesn’t need to worry about me. I, on the other hand, panic if I don’t have a month’s salary buffer in my personal account. This way I don’t worry about his low balances, and he won’t overspend. We’re both happy.

Really, it seems like it’s *fighting* about money (or resentment about money) that causes relationship problems, not the saver vs spender divide. It’s all about finding the system that works for you and your partner.

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48 Jeff @ MaximumCents August 30, 2017 at 8:59 am

At least your friend is hiding the money for a good reason that will benefit him and his wife. However, it’s probably not good that he has to hide it. If they were both on the same page they would reach their goals sooner.

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49 Lisa O August 30, 2017 at 9:08 am

My husband and I have both come together after failed marriages … money was a huge part of it! When we got married 13 years ago, we decided on the his/her/ours motto. We pay all joint bills out of “our” account and equally fund it. We make about the same money. We have a joint savings account that we equally fund and it is for vacation or whatever comes up…new washer, furniture, etc. We seem to be working towards the same goal of retirement and talk about what we have saved and where we are heading. After you have a failure with a partner it is hard to just totally open up…..it has taken several years.

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50 Mr. 1500 August 30, 2017 at 11:10 am

Lisa, this is a neat story. I love how you’ve pulled your financial lives together after divorces. I can’t imagine how hard all of that was for you to go through. I’m so thankful my wife and I are on the same page.

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51 Lisa O August 30, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Thanks…I am happy with our circumstances.

My husband’s ex-wife did not work and just spent time swiping cards to the max! He was in the military and she had the POA so he had charges he didn’t even know about. He found out when they were $80K in debt and there was no way out but the big BK!

My ex-husband had a gambling problem of about $45K when we split. He had a PO Box and his own checking that all bills went too! He paid his bills by winning or talked family and friends out of their cash to put into a fake business to pay his bills. Talk about feeling stupid….I had no clue! Funny thing…he told me I had to change if we stayed together. I took my 2 children and ran.

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52 Dwayne August 30, 2017 at 9:22 am

Clearly there are many different “roads” to the same destination. My wife is not interested in the details but we sit periodically to review where we stand financially from a macro level (usually over a glass of wine or two).
As soon as I hear “keeping secrets in a marriage” my radar goes off.
After 32 years with the same woman if I’ve learned anything… it’s NEVER a good idea to hide anything from your spouse.
Even though she seems to know whats going on it sounds like they might need to pour a couple glasses and dive into the details a bit to establish their long term goals.
And btw we are recently retired (early) after many years of saving, investing and living within our means. Before we even knew what FIRE was!

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53 Mr. 1500 August 30, 2017 at 11:12 am

Dwaye, big congratulations on retirement! And yeah, I agree that hiding anything from a spouse is a bad, bad idea. They will find out eventually and it will be much worse.

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54 Dads Dollars Debts August 30, 2017 at 9:41 am

I have friends who give their spouses spending budgets. That way he/she can feel comfortable spending what they want without worrying what the other will think.

My wife is frugal by nature and we save a lot, but I thought about setting up a separate budget/account for her spending. It would not be set up because she spends, more so because she doesn’t. I wonder if having money that we both agree is okay to spend as she sees fit without guilt would relieve some of her frugalness and anxiety about spending.

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55 J. Money August 30, 2017 at 11:54 am

Agree with trying to rid some guilt that way! Just as much as spending too much could be a problem, so can saving too much too and not living a little. I often have to tell my wife to stop worrying about spending $20 or $30 here and there as she’s always wondering if “things are okay” haha… I mean, what else is it going to take?? Her husband blogs about money for a living and she has access to over 100 of our net worth reports! Spend a little money, woman! :)

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56 Dave @ Married with Money August 30, 2017 at 9:58 am

Super fascinating read, haha. It made me chuckle because in some ways I’m like this with my wife (I’m like Jeff).

It’s not that “I invest” and “she spends” – it’s not that black and white. But here’s how we’re kind of similar: we have fun money that we can spend each month. I choose to “spend” my money investing in things that I just find fun, like Peer to Peer Lending. Maybe one day that’ll grow enough and we can take a vacation out of it, maybe I lose it all; it doesn’t really matter.

That being said, we do agree on the big stuff. We invest for our future, together, and are building the life we want. We’re on the same page with what we spend and save, and the fun money part is the only deviation.

I think it’d be much more difficult if we didn’t see eye to eye on the big stuff (like retirement accounts) and one person wanted to spend all of our take-home pay and the other wanted to save a significant portion of it. Thankfully, we don’t have those issues.

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57 Paul August 30, 2017 at 9:59 am

Yeah, my wife and I took a solid 10 years of our 11 year marriage to get on the same page or at least a page adjacent. She used to flip out unreasonably every time I brought up money. It took us 10 years to have a non emotional conversation about it. Its tough, the goal seems like so far off in the future. You have to basically deflate your lifestyle and live like a modern day pauper in order to get there. I even go back and forth on this. I suppose it all really comes down to a persons values. I’m not big on luxury or anything like that but its hard making multiple six figures and getting on yourself for doing something unnecessary like getting your hair cut every 3 weeks instead of 4-6… What I am saying is that its a slippery slope… analyzing everything wears out your brain to the point that it might just be easier to give up an say f it.

I’m not saying I have given up personally, I’m just highlighting the emotions I’m sure I am not alone in feeling at times. I don’t traditionally budget anymore though, psychologically it brings me a great deal of anxiety. I simply put everything I need for bills in one account and have a second account that contains our monthly amount for variables.

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58 J. Money August 30, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Haha… I often feel the same way with self-employment :) It takes sooooo much energy and time and decision-making that I often wonder if those with more simple 9-5s have it right. You go in and do your work, and then have all your nights and weekends free to do whatever the hell you please! Always reminds me of a quote from Lori Greiner of Shark Tank:

“Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.” :)

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59 Paul August 30, 2017 at 1:37 pm

I feel you. I’ve only been doing the self- employed thing for 2 consecutive years and the stress does drain you. What helps me is remembering those BS performance reviews where no one could get more than a 3 out of 5 AND remembering after a solid years worth of work being rewarded with a 2% raise…………..FUUUUUUUUU!$%^ THAT… At least I’m being paid my worth now.

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60 Army @ Climber Monkeys Abroad August 30, 2017 at 10:37 am

This is a great post! My fiance and I are in our mid 30s now and completely on the same page about finances: we both insist that I take the reins. ;)

I love spreadsheets and budgets (they ARE sexy!), so he actually let me take a look at all of his accounts, salary schedule, credit score, and map out a debt-repayment plan. Within a year, he was able to pay off all his credit card debt AND his motorcycle… PLUS save for our dream trip to Italy!

I grew up super poor (like, so poor we couldn’t afford bananas) and worked my butt off to get to where I am (“middle-class w/no debt & good retirement savings”.. but no way close to FI though!), so being with a partner who understands how to use money to obtain freedom has always been important to me. It baffles me when my friends argue about money with their partners… I feel like that’s one area of compatibility you should look at BEFORE getting married (credit score and debt amt. was my discussion topic of choice on second dates).

My fiance and I decided we can’t retire in the US comfortably w/our salaries and responsibilities (we support my disabled mom), so we’re actually moving abroad next year – to explore AND to save money. Yay! :)

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61 J. Money August 30, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Woahhhh that’s an adventure!!! Good for you! (An lucky man to have a financially-savvy woman by his side – beautiful!)

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62 super September 8, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Oooh ooh ooh where you going?

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63 nicoleandmaggie August 30, 2017 at 12:26 pm

I like the editor’s note at the end. :)

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64 J. Money August 31, 2017 at 6:07 am

*tips hat*

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65 LL August 30, 2017 at 12:31 pm

The Editor’s Note got it right, I think – this sounds like a couple that is actually quite functional as a financial team. My wife often jokes (but for real) that if you gave her $100, she’d promptly go buy $100 worth of magic beans. She’s thrilled that I manage the savings/investing/retirement planning portion of our lives, and while that money’s not “hidden” from her all, it’s kind of just invisible to her, which she appreciates (since otherwise she’d spend it immediately).

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66 J. Money August 31, 2017 at 6:07 am

Magic beans!! Hilarious!

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67 Becky August 30, 2017 at 1:27 pm

Definitely an interesting topic. In our marriage, I am in charge of the finances. My husband doesn’t really know how much money we have and how much I put towards savings, but that is of his own choice. He doesn’t even know how much he makes in a year! I have told him before when he wanted to buy something for the house how much we have in our house fund, and I’m sure I’ve randomly told him how much is in my 401k or in savings and I know he sees his own w-2 when we file taxes, but he chooses not to care or remember (unless he wants to spend some money). I guess this works out alright for us, but I wish he would care a little more about the budget so that we could put more towards debt and savings rather than eating out or whatever. Sadly, our budget doesn’t allow much wiggle room after expenses, so its hard to move the budget around to allocate extra towards things like that. I know, I know, sell some stuff or get a part time job, right?

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68 J. Money August 31, 2017 at 6:06 am

“He doesn’t even know how much he makes in a year!” – Oh wow! That’s some hardcore not caring much haha… I do hope he gets a bit more excited about this stuff too for you guys :)

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69 Tawcan August 30, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Very interesting that both of them were smiling when they said that one is saver and one is spender. Hopefully they had some talks after the party about their finances.

I’m very lucky that Mrs. T and I are on the same page when it comes to money. We don’t hide anything from each other and we are very focused on achieving financial independence in the next 9 years or so.

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70 Kendall @ Perfect Cents Living August 30, 2017 at 1:57 pm

This is so interesting! At least he doesn’t really “hide” the money from his wife since she knows he’s doing it. Sounds like they have great communication between the two of them and they are just on different pages when it comes to finances. As a lot of couples are. My husband is definitely the spender and I’m the saver. Although my husband hates being on a budget, I feel fortunate that he supports it and sticks to it with me so we can work towards having a better future. This was a great post! Definitely makes you want to communicate with your significant other even more. Thank you!

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71 Mr. Tako August 30, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Well, I’ve definitely never hidden money from my wife. She has her own money and can spend it how she pleases.

Personally I hate spending money. It brings me no joy, but investing is another story.

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72 Mr. 1500 August 30, 2017 at 3:40 pm

I should have gone in to a little more detail. One thing I’ve seen are subtle and infrequent cries of pain on social media. Little money problems can quickly turn into big ones. Compound interest works both ways.

I have no idea how much (if any) financial trouble they’re in. I hope they’re OK deep down and I’m just worrying too much.

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73 Lily @ The Frugal Gene August 30, 2017 at 4:13 pm

I immediate assumed hiding money from a spouse was a bad thing but in this case if Jeff had not hid the money, they would be worser off. Jeff in a sense was protecting Julie from herself as a good man would do.

Yes there’s better approaches but sometimes we choose the easier route especially if we love our significant other.

I’m totally hoping Jared’s hiding money from me and investing it ha!

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74 J. Money August 31, 2017 at 6:01 am

HAH!

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75 Tracyl5 August 30, 2017 at 4:13 pm

My husband and I USED to be worlds apart, he was the spender and I was the saver. But slowly over the 14 years we’ve been together, we’ve worn off on each other. We both work and keep our finances separate, and pay bills in a fair share based on our incomes. I’ve gotten him to be a little less spend-happy, and he is content to let me manage the investments, even gives me money for his Roth and brokerage every year. And he’s convinced me to spend a little more on things that are worth it or save us time, like more direct flights so we don’t have half a dozen lay-overs! We’re both working towards FIRE at a good clip (~40% of our gross income), although *I* wish we were putting even more money away. That’s the only problem, I hate working and can’t wait for FIRE, but he loves his job and may even work past the point where we have enough money. As long as I can stop working when we get to that point (hopefully in 4 years), I guess that’s good enough for me… just wish it was going to be sooner!

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76 J. Money August 31, 2017 at 6:00 am

40% is pretty damn good!! :)

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77 Rose August 30, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Regardless of the financial state of the household, you’ll do better if you are on the same page. If one partner goes rogue, uses money to control, spends more than the income can comfortably support or simply does not understand that one must have a plan and a goal for every dollar – then you are in trouble.

If one partner hides money for nefarious reasons, then it is a problem. If they simply agree, like the editor pointed out that one can spend X and the other is the one responsible for saving then you might be good.
Still, over the years I’ve noticed that couples that have the same goals and values simply do better money wise.

Besides, just because one partner is an (over) spender does not mean they can’t change if they have the right motivation.

Always fascinating to see how couples decide on handling their money.

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78 Dwayne August 30, 2017 at 7:05 pm

I find it extremely fascinating to see couples with separate finances, spending accts etc. “His money/her money”
Maybe I’m old school but all of our money goes into the same pot and is spent from there for ALL needs and wants. Needs come first and wants are discussed and agreed upon between the two of us.
That got us to FI and will hopefully keep us there during our current retirement. My money/your money seems like a waste of potentially investable dollars. But I certainly understand that different approaches are needed for different couples.

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79 Working Optional August 30, 2017 at 7:31 pm

Marriage and Money is always such an interesting topic. While Jeff&Julie may be fine when it comes to finances, I can understand how Mr 1500 would be worried. I’d be too, especially if they were my friends and I *knew* there was a better/easier way!

Spenders vs Savers is normal, but being on the same page about current vs future lifestyle helps. Communication is key.

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80 ZJ Thorne August 31, 2017 at 12:27 am

We aren’t married (yet), but she reads my blog all about my debt and my financial plans. What she makes is a matter of public record. I think our communication helps. We know the goals we both have. We encourage one another to accomplish them. She’s in a better financial position than I am for now, but I am making great strides.

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81 Primal Prosperity August 31, 2017 at 2:06 pm

“Not everyone wants to retire super early like us nerds ;)”.

I’m with you on this… Even when I’m 90 years old, I’ll still never use the phrase “I’m retired”. I’m a person, not a race horse. :)

Retire really is just a word made up by the corporations anyway to make people feel that it is worth it to work 40+ hours a week for 40 years in a soul sucking cubicle. haha. So, instead, I prefer to say something like “I left the corporate world; exited the rat race; jumped off the corporate ladder; etc…”

As far as marriage and finances, you know my story of my previous marriage. But what I’ve discovered as a minimalist is that there are very few things beyond food, water, shelter that need to be purchased to make me happy. I think ultimately with my first husband, it wasn’t so much the finances, but all the stuff… all the toys… all the hassles… all the maintenance. I just like to live incredibly simply and that just happens to have a side effect of super cheap living. :)

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82 J. Money August 31, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Amen, sister.

Also, don’t have kids :)

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83 Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life September 10, 2017 at 6:48 pm

It’s not actually deceitful hiding if they both know it’s happening. Lots of people know that if they see the money, they’ll spend it, so they engage in various forms of hiding it from themselves. In this case, it’s better that an actual interested person is doing the hiding and subsequent investing, IMO.

I could very easily hide our money from PiC. And in practice it probably seems like I do. Ask him on any given day where his paycheck went, I don’t think he could give more than a rough outline of pointing to me. He knows that I’m saving and investing and researching more investing and that if we have more than a certain amount in cash, it’s getting invested. He trusts me implicitly even when I say out of the blue that I’m buying investment property and he hasn’t a clue what I’m talking about. As an example. :)

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84 Pj September 25, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Interesting. This didn’t go (happily) where I expected it to go. In my first marriage, I didn’t “hide” money from my ex-wife, but we definitely kept our finances separate. Had the combined bad problems of her working mostly gigs versus me bringing home a steady paycheck, plus spending beyond our means. I took out payday loans to make up the difference on occasion, 80 percent of which she didn’t know about.

Now older, wiser and married to the right person, we’re pretty good about fiscal transparency and recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses in those areas. We’re both savers, though she’s smarter than I am with her finances, even if I spend more time fixating on budgets. (And we smartly keep a joint account that gets “paid” first out of our respective paychecks so that our personal spending/saving habits never get in the way.)

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85 JS October 11, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Wish there was another way, but I can’t get her to understand the power of investing or to reduce her spending, forcing me to hide nearly every penny I invest toward our future. I have an MBA and been a self investor for 25 years (been married for 14) and you would think using terms and showing examples of compounded interest, making money work for you, spend less than you make might help her understand; but I am always faced with responses like ‘you can’t take it with you’, ‘what good is spendable money when your old’ etc.
I’ve tried the envelope method, the lets make up a budget method; neither had any success.
She refuses to go to financial counseling and at this point if I showed her how much I have saved for our future it would only get her angry about the financial lies and deceit and angry about the cash she could have been spending. Wish there was a way I could get her to change, even if by just a little:(

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86 Mr. 1500 October 14, 2017 at 9:32 am

I’m sorry for your struggles and it’s painful for me to read this. It’s difficult for the wife to wrap her mind around the savings mentality because of the way our brains are wired. Our thinking is a relic of a past life when we had to find food, shelter and warmth on a daily basis. There wasn’t any need to plan a year out when you just needed to know where you next meal was coming from.

Along those same lines, retirement is a new phenomenon. 100 years ago, you toiled at the factory 6 or 7 days a week and then died when you were 50. Do not pass Go. Do not go to Florida. Go directly to the dirt farm.

I knew someone in a similar situation who said this to his wife: He told her that by saving, she was buying something; her time. You don’t have to spend money on physical stuff. Time is more important than anything else. Ask any 80 year-old!

And if that doesn’t work, bring her over! She can see how happy we are having freed ourselves from corporate life!

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