If you are in a long-term, cohabitating relationship, issues about spending are sure to arise. Advice generally revolves around the idea of talking about money more. While open communication is helpful, it may not be the only step required.
For example, if your spouse came home after spending £1,000 and told you about it, would you be okay with it? While mentioning the purchase is certainly better than keeping it a secret, is simply mentioning it after the fact the best way to handle it?
To avoid such uncomfortable moments, some couples set spending limits. Now, this doesn’t mean that money cannot be spent. Instead, it marks an agreed upon point where a purchase must be discussed before it is completed. Everything below the limit is considered fair game.
If you want to keep money from pulling you apart, here is how a spending limit can work for you.
Defined Boundaries Get You Working Together
Frivolous outgoings are a top reason for disagreements about money. By setting purchasing limits, you can help avoid one person seeing a large purchase as frivolous, while the other sees it as a necessity, after the fact. Essentially, the limit gives you each freedom to handle certain purchases how you see fit, as long as they fall below the line.
Spending limits also automatically engage a communication protocol on any purchase over the line. You are guaranteeing a conversation about the spending decisions that involve any amount of money beyond which you feel uncomfortable.
A limit can help set your relationship up for success. Instead of waiting for a spouse to step out-of-line, you are identifying the line first. You don’t have to set yourself up for failure to reach a better place.
Spending Limits Can Change as Your Life Changes
Setting a limit today doesn’t mean that is the limit for the rest of your lives. Instead, the limit can change as your life together changes. For example, you may have a £50 limit while you are both attending university, but may feel more confident with a £200 once you both secure permanent employment after graduation.
Similarly, if you decide to have a child, you may change the limit to £100 to help direct more money towards saving for the needs of the child. The same can be done when other large expenses are on the horizon, like saving for a down payment on a home, or when you want to pay down debts more quickly.
The limits are adaptable. They evolve as your relationship progresses through all of life’s phases. Since the limits can change, it may also help prompt regular discussions regarding your financial situations. For example, having a conversation about the limit every six months may keep things on-target. You can also have a new discussion whenever an unexpected occurrence changes your needs.
Adhering to Limits Show Respect
Yes, it is possible for a spouse to ignore the limit. But, if that happens, is that really your biggest problem?
Both spouses remaining true to the agreement is a sign of respect. Not just for the other person, but respect for the relationship as a whole. Following the agreement allows you to function as equals for large decisions. It also allows more open communication about money.
If money is one of the biggest points of contention, doesn’t it make sense to avoid the fight by planning now? It would be irresponsible not too.