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Love and money... a balancing act

As a dating coach, I get a lot of questions about love and money.

As a dating coach, I get a lot of questions about love and money.  I'd like to tackle one of the biggest:

What if my partner spends money differently than I do? 

Your approach to finances, if it is different from your partner's, can put tremendous strain on a relationship.  So whatever your views are on spending money, it's important that you and your partner are comfortable with the other's approach.

Are you the type of person who would cut coupons all day to save a few pennies?  Does cable TV just seem so unnecessary when you can watch your favorite shows on Netflix?  Or maybe you order one fewer drink than you want when out with friends for dinner to save a few bucks?

On the other hand, perhaps you're the type of person who likes to take extravagant trips every year and spend your whole December paycheck?  Is it imperative that you're walking around with the latest iPad and iPhone?  Maybe you buy yourself designer clothes whenever you feel a little sad?

Neither of these methods is wrong, or even mutually exclusive.  But they are different, and that can cause tension in a relationship.

About six years ago, I dated someone for a year and a half who viewed money differently from how I did.  We were not the same religion, which I thought might be the biggest obstacle in our relationship, but when it came down to it, it was our difference in spending habits that led to our demise.  I work hard, and I like to reward myself.  I'm not talking about Tiffany bracelets and Louis Vuitton bags or anything, but small conveniences.  For example, he and I used to argue all the time over valet parking.  If it's cold out and there is no street parking available, I think it's worth the $10 or $15 for the convenience of walking right into the restaurant.  He, on the other hand, would rather drive around for 20 minutes, make us late, and walk a mile to avoid the cost.  Again, neither belief is right or wrong; they are just different.  But making sure that you're compatible with your partner's approach can save you from an endless tug-of-war over what's important and what isn't.

When it comes down to it, how you decide to spend your hard-earned money is a very personal decision.  Just like your values on politics and religion, your values on money will likely play a large role in your relationship, so it's best to address these issues before they become overwhelming.  Rather than letting a monetary issue fester, bring it up to your partner before you become resentful of the other's spending habits.  (In fact, this is a healthy way to handle most large issues that arise in a relationship.)  Some things you'll be able to compromise on, and some you won't.  For your relationship to go the distance, though, it's important that you and your partner are on board with the other's approach to money… and you're both willing invest yourselves completely!