First Person: Making the Leap from My Money to Our Money

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Whenever I sit down to have a money talk with my husband, I'm always surprised by how little I really know about his perspectives on money. Sometimes I still feel like we are newlyweds trying to make the leap from 'my money' to 'our money.' I wasn't the least bit surprise when I read a recent article about married men and women being on different pages when it comes to financial decisions. A recent study by BMO Private Bank suggests men really are from Mars and women are from Venus when it comes to communicating about money. According to the study, 69 percent of married men think they are making investment decisions on their own. Meanwhile, only 13 percent of married women think their husbands are the primary decision maker when it comes to investments. Sixty-two percent of married men thought they were the primary ones making decisions about major purchases, but only 9 percent of women felt that way. My husband and I started having money talks so we could perception check before making major financial decisions.

Shunning credit cards

I was stunned to find out that my husband doesn't really care if we have credit-card debt. His attitude is that we can pay off the credit card debt eventually, but there is no rush. I can't stand debt, but especially hate debt that comes with high interest rates. Even though my husband isn't bothered by credit-card debt, he doesn't run up the credit cards. Also, he doesn't care if I pay them off every month. We have radically different opinions about credit-card debt. Fortunately, it doesn't negatively impact our marriage or our credit scores.

Paying off the mortgage

I am the one in the family who wants to pay off our mortgage in half the time. My husband is perfectly content to make the minimum payments each month. I refused to refinance our mortgage unless he agreed to a 15-year mortgage. I was only interested in refinancing for the lower interest rate of 2.75 percent. My husband doesn't mind having a mortgage with a long term because he doesn't want to ever retire. I want to get rid of our mortgage as soon as possible so I can enjoy early retirement. Because my husband loves our home, he doesn't mind that I am paying off our mortgage early.

Saving for retirement

Because I want to retire early, I am extremely motivated to save for retirement. In my 30s, I saved 20 to 30 percent of my income for retirement. My husband has consistently saved 6 percent for retirement, but does receive a company match for his 401(k). My husband is just as skeptical as I am about the future of social security, but he has confidence that he can support the family into his 60s and 70s. When we talk about our retirement savings, we figure out how much we will have in combined retirement savings. If one of us stopped working, we would continue to fund the other spouse's Roth IRA with spousal contributions. We don't need to save the exact percentage amount for retirement because ultimately we will pool our retirement money.

It wasn't difficult to make the leap from having individual to joint accounts or to having individual goals to goals as a family. We have radically different philosophies about debt, but share the same non-materialistic values. Since my husband doesn't need a lot of material things to him happy, I'm able to take our extra money to pay down mortgage debt and save for retirement. We might not be on the same page in some ways, but we are at least reading the same personal finance book.

More from this contributor:

I'm Glad I saved Behind my Husband's back

My Husband Wouldn't Marry me Until I Got Out of Debt

My Husband Freaked out when he Saw my Credit Score


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