What My Relationship Taught Me About Money

On Monday, my partner and I celebrated our six-year anniversary. It’s been an amazing, life-changing ride. We met on a blind date that was set up by a friend and we hit it off immediately.

Six years, three states (California, New York, and now Oregon), many jobs, and ups-and-downs later, we have had quite an adventure. I’m excited for our future, as both of us are now doing well with work and following our dreams. Things are less stressful and we can enjoy just being together.

In many ways, my relationship has taught me a lot about money. My philosophies for both have been informed by my experiences and values. Here are three things my relationship taught me about money.

Protect It

No one should care more about your money than you. So invest in yourself, save money, spend on your values and protect it. The same goes for a relationship. A relationship, like money, needs to be preserved, and constantly worked on. You should protect it and care for it. The dividends paid on taking care of your money and relationship will be so rewarding.

There Will Be Good Times and Bad Times

Relationships can be hard work. You are taking two different people and creating a life together. Things like jobs, values, family, and dreams can become conflicts in creating your future together. You are no longer only taking care of yourself — you are living your life, always thinking about another person. Relationships require care, maintenance, and in my opinion requires learning and growing together to keep going.

Life is a roller coaster, and there will be good times and bad times. In our six years, we’ve dealt with him being unemployed, me being unemployed, me being a breadwinner, both of us being in school at the same time, and being long-distance. We are finally at a place where we are both working and somewhat stable and it feels so nice. During the bad times it can feel like they will never end. You can easily lose perspective of the love and deep affection that keeps you together. But remember, things get better.

The same thing goes for money. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be unemployed and on food stamps after graduate school. It was a very low moment for me and our relationship, especially as I had just moved from NYC to Portland to be with him. Everything felt like a struggle. But eventually, things started to get better.

Regardless of your current financial situation, there will be good times and bad times. Don’t rest on your laurels if you are enjoying success. Don’t feel like your life is over if you have unexpectedly dealt with a frustrating money challenge.

In relationships and money, there are good times and bad. Prepare for both, and practice gratitude to get you through it all.

It’s Personal

One of my favorite things about personal finance? It’s personal. I know it’s somewhat cliché to say at this point, but it’s true. There are no two financial blueprints that look the same. My relationship, and our decisions on how to live our lives, are all personal decisions as well.

We have decided not to have kids. We are not interested in buying a house. We want a creatively fulfilling, engaging, adventure-filled life. We don’t need a lot. We just need each other and some money to get by. Perhaps our way of life sounds immature, rebellious, or just plain boring to some, but it works for us.

In the end, you have to do what is right for you. Invest in what is important to you, and value relationships above all (yes, even over money).

What has your relationship taught you about money? If you are single, what lessons might you share with us “committed” folk? 🙂


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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26 responses to “What My Relationship Taught Me About Money”

  1. Isabella says:

    We were married at age 18 and 20. Next week will be our 44th wedding anniversary. Four children, three grandchildren, college and grad school for us, college for the kids, lots of moves, lots of homes, lots of jobs etc. It certainly is hard to nail it down to a few things when it comes to money. I think the most important, though, is to have mostly mutual goals and to trust each other. Also, there will be rough times–unemployment, illnesses. Soldier through those difficult times together.

    It reminds me of a proverb in the Bible. “Two are better than one. For if one falls, the other will be there to lift him (her) up.” We have had an adventure!

  2. Morgaine says:

    Very good post, Melanie! You make some interesting (and very true) observations.
    Morgaine recently posted…Getting to Know Me BetterMy Profile

  3. Mackenzie says:

    Happy Anniversary Melanie! 2008 must have been “the year” because my husband an I are celebrating our anniversary this week too! 6 years of being married to my best friend 🙂

    Relationships and money can be an interesting mix. There will always be ebbs and flows, but as long as you have a strong foundation, you can weather any storm!
    Mackenzie recently posted…Life, Lemonade, and UpdatesMy Profile

  4. Congrats on six years Melanie!! It is such a huge accomplishment especially given all of the ups and downs that you have had, but it’s true, that every relationship has ups and downs including our relationship with money. And I agree that personal finance is personal and not everyone should be expected to fit into a pre-defined model of life (i.e. kids, home, etc). It’s important for us to keep our personal goals in mind and make those money decisions that are specific to our personal goals.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Financial Fitness Steps from My KidMy Profile

  5. Congratulations to you both and Happy Anniversary!

    I was in a relationship that went down South a while back and he was always on top of his money. He never liked to spend his and always wanted to spend mine. I gave him lifts to work in the morning and he never wanted to contribute to petrol. Not a great experience!

    Being single I like that I don’t have to consult anyone when I want to spend on big purchases discuss splitting the bills.
    Debt Busting Chick recently posted…Weekly Spend Recap (W/E 13th June 14) & Blog Lovin’My Profile

  6. Good comparisons, and happy 6 years! I think one of the big things is to work on both at all times. You can’t just set it and forget it. I see in a lot of relationships things fall apart because no one wants to put in any work. May you both have many many happy years ahead!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Summer Shape Up!/ASICS Shoe Giveaway!My Profile

  7. Liz says:

    congrats on 6 years! I think my relationship has taught be that money won’t make you happy. People, experiences, love and laughter make you happy. Sure money can help you get those things but it is just a means to an end..not the end. But I think the most important thing is that we have each other.
    Liz recently posted…What Should I do With my Year-End Bonus?My Profile

  8. Kassandra says:

    Congrats on your anniversary! My DH and I have been together for over five years and spent all but the last seven months long distance. We have definitely had our challenges and I am so proud that we surmounted every one together and we are stronger for it. I can feel your happiness through this post 🙂
    Kassandra recently posted…The Warning Signs of DebtMy Profile

  9. I think my most important relationship lesson has been to learn to listen and understand the other perspective and know that I can always be better. Definitely applicable to finances too!
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…How Much Do You Need to Live In New York City?My Profile

  10. Josh @ CNA says:

    Awesome post Melanie…wow, 6 years! That’s great! My relationship has surely taught me quite a bit about money as well. One of the biggest things is that like a relationship, you should do things to help it grow on its own. Simple things like opening a door or pulling out a chair adds hypothetical interest to your relationship…while simple investments can do the same for your money!
    Josh @ CNA recently posted…Is It Possible To Have A Career In Binary Options Trading?My Profile

  11. My relationship taught me to save as much as possible. My fiancee is younger than me and has triple the amount I have saved up. And she doesn’t even try that hard. I really don’t know how she was able to do that, but I was impressed and now I’m following suit.
    Aldo@MillionDollarNinja recently posted…Spent: Looking For Change (Documentary)My Profile

  12. Shannon says:

    Happy anniversary! These are really great perspectives :). The biggest thing my relationship has taught me about money is flexibility. Since my husband and I both met in our late 20s, we’d already been going along on our own (and, of course, opposite) financial plans without really thinking about how someone else would fit into the mix. Since we got married we’ve had many, many talks about how to strike a balance between our opposing financial philosophies. It hasn’t been easy, but we’re finally on the same page!
    Shannon recently posted…Fast Track To Student Loan Repayment May Have Adverse Impact On RetirementMy Profile

  13. Congrats Melanie! I was in a controlling relationship with my ex. I came in the relationship debt free with about $5k saved up. He came in with nothing, literally and some student loans! We ended up spending my entire life’s savings. He was controlling to the point that I couldn’t spend anything over $50 without “asking” first, including groceries! It was insane! Now, I’m single and loving that I don’t have to “ask” to spend my own damn money, of course that can be a downside sometimes as well when I decide to splurge and there’s no one to talk me out of it 🙂
    Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore recently posted…Budget Check 6/20/2014My Profile

  14. Congratulations to you two love birds <3

  15. E.M. says:

    Happy Anniversary!! I think the future you two are envisioning sounds great. My boyfriend and I are happy with the simple things, too. I keep reminding myself we will find ourselves in a better position in a few years, once our student loans are gone. It’s hard to keep that perspective when you feel like you’re drowning in financial worries – but you two are proof that things can and will get better. Thanks for that reminder =).
    E.M. recently posted…Being Grateful: Thirty-First EditionMy Profile

  16. Congratulations on your 6th year of blissful togetherness. My eldest met her husband of one year also through a blind date which I did not approve of at the start. But after 8 years of being boyfriend-girlfriend, my now son-in-law was able to put my fears about blind dating to rest. We are now expecting a baby boy from them very soon.
    Jen @Sprout Wealth recently posted…Make Money Series – Renting Out Your CarMy Profile

  17. I love what you said about relationships consistently needing to be worked on – it’s so true!!! Being in a committed relationship is a choice – a choice to stay through good and bad, to be nice when you want to be a jerk, etc. You guys have done a terrific job of choosing to stay together and make it work. Happy anniversary!
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…How to Save Money by Planning AheadMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Awww, thanks! Definitely a choice to stay together, make it work through whatever, and keep going strong! Enjoying the good and the bad, debt and the wealth. 🙂

  18. NZ Muse says:

    The good and bad, ups and downs … I think that’s the hardest part.
    NZ Muse recently posted…Why I love living in the suburbsMy Profile

  19. My favorite part: it’s personal. What works for one won’t always work for another. Great post!
    Cash Cow Couple recently posted…Your best anti-frugality arguments debunked!My Profile

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