Did you know that one of the leading causes of divorce is disagreements about money? I feel incredibly fortunate that the Mr and I are a united team when it comes to money matters. We regularly talk about our finances, our dreams and goals, and we have a financial plan that we discuss and adapt. But like any couple, we’ve had our moments.
It happened right after we moved in together
I remember specifically one instance, not long after we had moved in together. We were engaged at the time, and for any couple, the moving in period is one of adjustment. You are figuring out new nuances about each other, and deciding whether you can stand the other person’s weird habits they had kept hidden from you up to that point. It’s a period of discovery.
Well, the Mr and I both try to be frugal (it’s one of the qualities that help us click when it comes to money matters), but we succeed at in different ways. At that time though, he was especially frugal when it came to his food budget. He can be a great cook when he wants to be (his specialty is pizza), but he doesn’t always like to cook. So he often ate cheap, simple meals and it worked for him!
I like to cook though, and grew up in a family of true food enthusiasts where exotic cuisine was the norm. It wasn’t until I moved out on my own that I realized eating like that required a larger food budget. My family was ok with this because that’s what we liked! For me, food is of very high value and I was willing to spend a little more money on it… more than the Mr was used to spending.
Therein lay the seed of our disagreement
At this point, you may think that our fight began because I wanted to make super elaborate meals and dine continually on bulgogi and stock our kitchen with expensive spices. It’s a good thing we didn’t live near a Whole Foods because if we did that may have been the case. Alas, our fight had much more humble origins.
It all started because of bread
We were grocery shopping one day at Walmart. We can’t even blame it on Ikea, although the two stores have some similarities, don’t they? As we were finishing up our shopping, we got to the bread aisle last. We both agree on the merits of wheat bread over white. In my opinion, the heartier and more full of seeds and nuts, the better.
That was the cause of our fight.
The Mr had been in the habit of buying the cheap wheat bread up until this point. I wanted to buy the heartier wheat bread. To be fair, it wasn’t that he didn’t like my bread choice, he just thought it was too expensive. It was 99 cents versus 3.99. A difference of three dollars. We almost ended our relationship then and there over bread. Bread, people.
I don’t even remember which one we ended up getting.
A money fight is always about more than numbers
The way we spend our money reflects our values and our priorities. As long as you are at peace with the way your values and your budget align, there is no right or wrong way to make decisions about your spending. That’s why personal finance is so personal! That was also the root of our argument.
In any money fight, there is a lot more going on than just the numbers. Disagreements arise because of a discordance in the values of each partner. It could also be the case that their values align, but each partner is not communicating those well. People fight not about the numbers, but because they feel their values are not being understood or respected.
One of the things the Mr and I have had to discover over time is the importance of communicating our values and expressing how we want those reflected in our spending. It’s not something you can do once and expect all your problems to be solved though. As we grow and life happens, situations and values can evolve and we have to continually express how the things that are important to us have changed.
It’s not something that we’re perfect at, but we’re still working on it. At least we don’t fight about bread anymore.
Oh, and since the Mr and I are obviously still together, you may be wondering how we ultimately resolved the great bread debate and what kind of bread we eat now. I make our bread. I make this bread recipe; it’s cheap to make and better than the 99 cent stuff. I can put seeds and nuts in whenever it strikes my fancy. It’s not an affiliate link and I get nothing for endorsing that recipe, I just love it enough that I want to share it with you.