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Frugal partner and spendthrift partner - can it ever work?

(21 Posts)
BadLad Thu 18-Jul-13 06:00:42

Not my situation, but inspired by another thread, where the husband spent money like water, much to the consternation of his wife, who preferred careful planning.

I don't think I could be with someone who didn't more-or-less share my financial outlook.

Does anyone have a relationship in which they are happy but have different attitudes to debt and money? How do you solve the issue?

Dahlen Thu 18-Jul-13 06:45:41

Nope - was a factor in both my relationship breakdowns (in fact the main one in the breakdown of my marriage).

Aren't money issues one of the top reasons for divorce?

SeagullsAreLikeThat Thu 18-Jul-13 06:57:11

I will let you know. We are in the middle of this battle at the moment. It's not that DH deliberately spends, he is just not great at keeping track of what he spends and suddenly finds himself with a huge credit card bill that he hasn't realised he had amassed.
I watch every penny, budget for everything and won't buy something if I know I can't afford it. Luckily I also handle all the household stuff.
For the first time in our marriage, I told DH last weekend that I feared for our future if he couldn't be more responsible with money.

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Thu 18-Jul-13 08:59:29

It is the absolute one thing that destroys relationships. I've seen it several times. It's not gender specific, it can ruin both partners' creditworthiness and the effects are lifelong. I work with someone who will die on the job because their partner emptied their life savings.

Trills Thu 18-Jul-13 09:06:08

I wouldn't want to be in a "living-together" relationship with someone whose ideas on money were not compatible.

For some people they wouldn't mind being either "the gatekeeper of the money" or being "told how much they can have".

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 18-Jul-13 10:03:51

I think frugal can meet extravagant and find a compromise. However 'spendthrift' means someone who is not just extravagant but irresponsible with money .... and that's just crap as I've found out the hard way. Certainly not life-partner material

ladysalmon Thu 18-Jul-13 12:11:59

I was in a lot of debt when I met DH. I don't think I'm a spendthrift but I certainly enjoy shopping and prefer paying more for higher quality. Due to life circumstances, I have always been on a low income though, so this has resulted in substantial debt. DH is more frugal despite being on a very high salary, and needs to be persuaded to update items and will often try to struggle without things even though he can easily afford to make life a bit easier by spending a bit more cash. He is a real saver and managed to save a 40% deposit for our first home, in an expensive area, and he used to live in a shared flat until we married, even though he could afford to rent a flat to himself.

We manage to make it work because we're both open about our spending and we respect one another's differences. We've decided to keep our finances separate so that my debts wouldn't affect him (I had my debts written off in bankruptcy, although DH at one point offered to clear them). I'm lucky that, although I don't work, DH's income is high enough to sustain my level of spending, and it doesn't make too much of a dent into our income. I am a second cardholder on his credit card account, he pays it off in full each month but the card limit means I'm never going to spend so much we won't manage to meet our bills. He is happy with this arrangement as it's fairly typical for the men he knows to have a budget for the wife's spending, and I'm happy as it meets my needs and he doesn't question what I spend on.

wordyBird Thu 18-Jul-13 12:29:17

I think you can have different attitudes to money, up to a point.

It depends how far it goes. If one party wants to save and do without, whereas the other likes to have some fun while they can, there is potential for both sides to get more out of their money - one might learn to save, one might learn to let it go now and then. If both are essentially responsible, it should be ok, though there might be clashes.

I can think of two potential areas for serious problems.
1) if one side is extreme and controlling about money, or selfish, not allowing the other partner to spend money on necessaries or things that bring comfort. This can become financial abuse.

2) irresponsibility about money - spending everything regardless of who it belongs to, acting as if bills are an affront or have come from the sky, also points to a sense of entitlement and selfishness. Not a good basis for any relationship.

wordyBird Thu 18-Jul-13 12:30:20

...I should add - essentially caring as well as responsible..

BMW6 Thu 18-Jul-13 12:45:40

This was DH and I. He was appalling at handling his finances before we got together and he freely admits it.

Therefore, by mutual agreement, I handle all the finances, both household and for his business. As a result both are very healthy

When it comes to large purchases we discuss and agree, compromising if neccessary.

I can be too cautious sometimes but we always meet halfway.

I would not be with him otherwise. Could not bear the stress and uncertainty.

BadLad Thu 18-Jul-13 17:29:43

I wouldn't want to live with someone who caused us to get into debt. Or someone who begrudged me a beer on Friday night.

Both can cause misery for the partner, although I can't help feeling that the former can cause slightly more misery.

Maybe it's my aversion to debt and interest payments, mortgages notwithstanding

BloomingRose Thu 18-Jul-13 18:16:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 18-Jul-13 18:20:39

"He has no clue yet spends a lot of time admiring those who do have a clue and have built up their financial security over a long period of time. "

Oooh... I like that observation smile So true. These wasters think money just falls off trees for the rest of us. No need to work for it, budget, plan, invest, save etc. Is/was your ex big on 'entitlement'? Did he think he should have an expensive lifestyle and fancy things just because...?

BloomingRose Thu 18-Jul-13 18:27:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 18-Jul-13 18:34:59

My spendthrift/entitled exH used to be mortified if friends were planning some expensive night out and I said we couldn't afford to join them. Apparently I was 'showing him up' smile If I'd really wanted to embarrass him I'd have shown them his bank statement complete with five figure overdraft (and this is nearly 20 years ago). When it's more important to look good in front of mates than tackle crippling debt, you know the person will never grow up. Again... bad life-partner candidate.

Twinklestein Thu 18-Jul-13 18:36:51

My mum always told me to look at the financial side of marriage as like going into business with someone...

So I did factor that into compatibility.

We are probably an equal mix of frugality & extravagance albeit on different things...

Twinklestein Thu 18-Jul-13 18:39:42

@cogito: 'five figure overdraft' shock

I've never had an overdraft of more than £500 in my life.

(I'm not rich just can't cope with debt).

juneau Thu 18-Jul-13 18:41:43

I was with a guy for five years who was terrible with money. As soon as he got paid he was back in the red and it drove me to distraction. For me, as someone who is careful with money, it was extremely stressful and I couldn't help worrying about what it would mean for me if I stayed with him long-term. We broke up for various reasons, money being one of them.

Now he's doing fine - I think he just earns more so he has more wriggle room to be a bit of a spendthrift - as opposed to when we were together when we were always skint (uni and the few years after that). Strangely, he's now a financial advisor hmm

witchofmiddx Thu 18-Jul-13 18:55:43

I am in that relationship. Dh is reckless, spends vast sums, not particularly on himself, but us and even our extended family. If I was the same we would be in serious trouble. His dad died when he was young and sees it is as long as he earns the money and has sufficient life insurance, life is for the living. I am a sahm and the only word that springs to mind is.. exasperated!!

Kernowgal Thu 18-Jul-13 20:03:45

The idea of being heavily in debt terrifies me. I have a bit on my credit card, and I'm paying off a student loan, but I manage on the little I have. My ex used to accuse me of being extravagant, which was hilarious given I earned £15k when we were together and never went into my overdraft, bought a few clothes a couple of times a year.

After him, I couldn't tolerate anyone really really tight (read: controlling), but as I'm fairly frugal myself I also couldn't tolerate someone who spent money like it's water, getting themselves into debt. It's so irresponsible and I'd wonder what ishoos were behind their spending.

crazyhead Thu 18-Jul-13 20:27:18

I think it is a problem if you are so different, and it is particularly problematic if you aren't high earners and simply need to have common standards and financial discipline to make the sums add up.

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