The powerful impact of a good partner.
One piece of the financial advice that I’ve heard often: Marry well. Marriage and divorce are both expensive endeavors, and it is financially prudent not to engage in those two processes more often than necessary. As someone who has been previously married and divorced, I can attest that this is true. But there are other ways that marrying well can be good for our financial health, and I stumbled into a perfect example this week.
As part of our work to be responsible with our dollars, we took on the chore of refinancing of our mortgage some weeks back (before the rates began rising post-Election, yay!). And that process finished up in December. This week, we received a bigger-than-expected refund check as part of closing out the old escrow account. All our future predicted “windfalls” (tax returns, those special months with three biweekly paychecks, etc) were scheduled into our plan for 2017… but not these dollars. My brain lit up with possibility. Before thinking about how I would save/spend the money. I thought about how often my husband had been the person in our partnership agreeing to financial plans (even when they aggressively cut his spending money for the pay period) instead of making those plans. Instead of coming up with my own ideas of how to use for the money, I reached out to him for his. (And because this is a modern, impatient age and he was at work, I asked via text message.)
While I waited for his response, I wondered if my husband would suggest that we finally replace our mattress or that we enjoy a small trip or whether there was something he had been wanting but putting aside on account of my aggressive goals to pay down debt and begin building savings. Secretly, I liked the idea that he would encourage us to splurge or indulge after being so disciplined in recent months. But while I leaned toward recklessness, he (as always) was a steady force and advocated for us to simply save:
“That seems smart to me. Rainy day. Never know what’s coming around the bend… My needs are met.”
He was absolutely right. And just like that our big financial plans to pay off debt and create a savings that gave us peace of mind were back on track. Instead of starting our savings account for emergency house repairs with just $300 this month, we opened it $2045 – A very prudent choice given that we are late to this kind of account and our refrigerator has been making the kind of noises that have me convinced that it is trying to impersonate Chewbacca on the regular.
No matter who we go to for financial advice or who we share our decisions with, they can have great power and influence over our financial future. If the people around you heap on the praise and "likes" whenever you make an extravagant purchase or put pressure on you when you try to decline expensive plans, those connections are bound to influence how you live. If the people around you are making their own laundry soap and finding the funds to retire early, you will likely measure your own choices by a very different yardstick. The everyday influence of a spouse or partner can be even greater.
This week, I experienced the power of a solid partner. While my husband did agree to spend a modest $130 to replace our ancient and insufficient vacuum, we now have a nest egg for emergency repairs. In a moment where I was absolutely tempted to splurge, my partner suggested a path that kept us on target for our goals. And I could not be more grateful for that.
Post photo by the always talented Scott Haydon Photography of Tacoma, WA.