So Who Wins?

Carolyn wonders how to settle disagreements with her husband. When there is a financial decision to be made, if one of them says yes and the other says no, what do they do?

QUESTION: Carolyn in Michigan wonders how to settle disagreements with her husband. When there is a financial decision to be made, if one of them says yes and the other says no, what do they do?

ANSWER: The point is, for your vote to count as you are discussing something, is that you both agree on your long-term goal and decide if that item fit into that goal. What ends up happening is that each of you gets to win occasionally. However, the other one who is saying no is there to remind you that something might really be out of bounds or will take you off track.

If you are the spender, you are there for your husband to help him have a life. If he’s the saver, he’s there to make sure you get to eat at retirement. If you get everything paid for and make all that progress, then the only argument you guys would have is to decide what good thing to do, not what bad thing to avoid.

I remember one of the first times we had something like that. I had some stuff at the business that I really needed about $10,000 to make it grow. Sharon was driving this old, dilapidated van that had a bunch of miles on it, and it was on its second transmission because I ruined the first one pulling the boat. We get a check in from this deal and have $10,000 to work with. She says she needs a car, and I need something at the office. With my thing, we could spend the money and have $40,000, but it would take a while. Both of our votes went in different directions.

We sat down and talked about it. What ended up happening was that she won first, then I won. Rather than she won and I lost, she won first because we got the car that we desperately needed. That was a valid request, given where we were financially. We were doing pretty well, and that car was ridiculous. With the next $10,000 that came in, we had it earmarked for the business deal.

It wasn’t a matter of if we were going to do both. It was more about when we were going to do each. We did both things. It was just a matter of who got to go first.

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