When I travelled with my husband to attend his conference last weekend, I had a major epiphany: my husband has personal finance flaws.

My Husband’s Financial Strengths

For years, I only saw part of his financial behavior, the great part of him, which is that the man does not like to spend money.  I don’t mean that he is so frugal or cheap that he won’t buy anything; every two or three years he buys a nice pair of shoes that cost perhaps $100, but they also last him for years.  What I mean is that he doesn’t spend money frivolously.  Even though he is heavily dependent on coffee, he will happily drink any brand I buy; he is definitely not a Starbuck’s snob.  He is a workaholic, so he doesn’t have any expensive habits, no hobbies that take up a part of our income.  He would rather eat at home than eat out, and he is not fussy about what he eats.  He will (almost always) happily eat what I prepare.  He is financially very low maintenance, and I cannot express enough that that is one trait I love about him.

Our Most Recent Financial Downfall

For years we had only my student loan debt, but then I started my ridiculous e-Bay business that did nothing but suck my time and money.  My husband warned me about it several times, but I chose not to listen.  When I finally accepted defeat and closed the business, we had almost $7,500 in credit card business debt.  While he was irritated, he accepted the fact calmly, and I am grateful for that too.

When we had our youngest two children back to back and I took two unpaid leaves of absence because it was important to both of us that he finish his degree and that our children not go to daycare, our debt load increased through student loans and credit card debt.  I blamed myself for this, though I probably shouldn’t because it was a decision we both made based on our priorities.  It has enabled my husband to finish his degree and begin working at a post-doc position, and it has allowed me to care for my children and pursue a flexible career as a blogger, freelance writer and virtual assistant.   Still, because I am the one who does the budget, pays the bills, and makes the majority of purchases for our home, I felt the weight of guilt.

Recognition of My Husband’s Financial Weakness

When we attended my husband’s recent conference, we paid about $800 out of pocket.  He applied for and was granted a $300 reimbursement award from his college, but that still left us paying $500, so you can imagine my joy and then my frustration when he spent one of the evenings in the hotel researching other conference travel awards his school offered and found one that paid $500.  Soon after he found that he should have applied before he travelled.

That was my epiphany moment.  While my husband does not spend, he is also not very good about finding ways to save money, which I consider my strength.  Details just fly by him.  Now that he is the breadwinner outside of the home, it is more important that he pursue grants like this, but it is definitely not his strength.

The Takeaway

I am not sharing this to pick on my husband.  I know that 95% of women would prefer a husband who took such a low maintenance approach to money and simply didn’t spend it frivolously.  I am pointing this out because it is important that two people in a relationship recognize one another’s financial weaknesses and strengths.  In our relationship, I am prone to make hasty, sometimes poor, financial decisions.  As such, it is in my husband’s best interest if he can rein me in during these times.  My strength is that I am good at finding ways to save money, and I actually enjoy paying bills and making a budget, which is a nice complement to him because he hates the mechanics of budgeting and bill paying.  His weakness is that he is not good at finding ways to save money; now that I recognize this, it is in my best interest if I keep an eye on ways he could save that he might not naturally think of.  His strength, of course, is that he is not a spendthrift.

Have you taken the time to recognize both your own and your partner’s strengths and weaknesses financially?  If not, take the time to do so.  Your finances will most likely improve once you do.

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