The conversation happened before our first child was even born, 14 years ago.
One of our first arguments as a married couple and it was about money.
The conversation started out positively, going well, trying to get on the same page about our finances and where we were going. Joe was super focused about paying off our sizable student loan debt, whereas I was more “…it’s at a low interest rate and student loan debt is good debt…”. Joe then went over the reasons why he thought we should pay it off, what it would mean for our future. I was tracking with him until he capped it off with the plan to do so:
“We need to live like we’re poor.”
I was still there with him physically, but in that instant, I’d left the room in every other sense.
I was working in a career I didn’t love and I did it for the money. I wasn’t about to stay in this job and live like I am poor while I do it. If I have to do this work, then I want to be able to shop, to buy expensive coffee, treat myself to, well, pretty much whatever I wanted.
I was comforting myself with money working in a job I felt I had to work because I needed the money.
And I thought Joe was the crazy one at the time.
It took me a long time to put the numbers together, to make sense of how much it didn’t make sense.
Joe had a goal (pay off the student loan), and I had a goal (not work at a job I hate) and the way to both was the same. But our conversation that night divided us.
I was 26 that night.
I am 41 now.
Joe and I paid off our student loan last month.
I don’t regret it. It was my path, our path. We all need to find our way in our own time and I am happy we finally figured out each others’ money language. We are still working through our ideas and beliefs about money (more on that in future posts) but at least we now understand each others’ motivations and try to talk in a way that the other will listen with an open mind.
The figuring it out, using money in a way that empowers us.
And to talk about it, in an open dialogue. Because when we share and work together and talk about it, the sooner we can all figure out what matters to us and how to get there.
Just another part of the conversation.
What about you? Any secrets to figuring out how many plays into your life and how to best talk about it? With your partner? With your family or friends?