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Should I Agree to My Partner’s Allowance Proposal?

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  • Relationship and money questions answered in Insider’s biweekly column, For Love & Money.
  • This week, a reader is unsure about accepting their partner’s proposal to put them on an allowance to pay off student loans.
  • Our columnist believes that accepting an allowance can be a good idea, but it requires mutual agreement on the amount.
  • Got a question for our columnist? Reach out to For Love & Money through this Google form.

Dear For Love & Money,

I take responsibility for my partner and I not saving as much as we should. I am someone who loves exploring new things — trying new hobbies, visiting new restaurants, discovering the latest coffee shop in town. I have made mistakes in the past by overspending.

Now, my partner wants me to adhere to a strict allowance so that we can allocate more money towards paying off our student loans. However, I feel that I need a more generous fun money budget, especially considering that we will soon be facing the financial burden of sending our child to college.

Whether it’s due to my adventurous spirit or my ADHD, I don’t want to completely give up this part of myself. I find joy in learning new things and exploring our city. Am I the problem in this situation?


Non-conformist and Financially Conscious

Dear Non-conformist,

In response to your question, I want to highlight your initial statement: “I take responsibility for my partner and I not saving as much as we should.” Therefore, it is likely that you are indeed contributing to the issue. However, this does not mean that changing your spending habits is the only solution.

One common mistake in personal finance is the assumption that not spending is the only way to save. It is undeniable that life involves expenses. While it is possible to cut back on non-essential items and reduce expenses, there comes a point where we must consider the balance between present enjoyment and future goals.

Check out Insider’s recommendations for the top budgeting apps »

While self-control varies among individuals, most people struggle to prioritize long-term savings over immediate gratification. While setting a strict resolution like “We will not dine out until we pay off our student loans!” may seem responsible, it is not always realistic. There are social occasions, exhausting weeks, or road trips where eating out makes sense. The key is aligning your budget with these realities, and if it doesn’t, you may have overspent.

My suggestion to avoid completely giving up on indulging in your passions is simple: understand yourself. Your letter demonstrates self-awareness, which is a solid foundation for creating a lifestyle that offers fulfillment while still being financially responsible for the future.

However, knowing your desires is not enough. You must prioritize and contextualize their importance. Your joy in living a free-spirited life is valuable, but necessities such as food, housing, and financial obligations, both present and future, are equally important. Use your self-awareness to strike a balance, and remember that being in a partnership means considering your partner’s needs alongside your own.

Explore 17 bank accounts that offer budgeting tools »

While your partner’s proposal for a small allowance may not sit well with you based on the suggested amount, I still believe that an allowance can be a fair compromise. It allows you to maintain your identity within reasonable boundaries that respect both your partner’s wishes and your shared future.

However, it is crucial to remember that you are an adult and it is your money as well. The decision on the allowance’s size should be a mutual one. Allowing your partner to unilaterally decide how much money you can handle can be controlling and foster an unhealthy power dynamic in your relationship. Instead, your partner should view their proposed number as a starting point for negotiation, meeting each other halfway.

As an adventurous spirit, your role in these negotiations is to be honest about the financial realities of your life while acknowledging your capacity for finding joy. Once you arrive at a mutually acceptable number, commit to sticking to it.

Unfortunately, most of us cannot afford everything we desire in life. However, with strategic planning, we can make the most out of what we can afford. Consider alternative ways to pursue your hobbies at a lower cost, such as trying out a new hobby with minimal expenses before investing in all the necessary equipment. To satisfy your love for new restaurants, designate the last Friday of every month as “restaurant night,” allowing yourself to enjoy the anticipation without losing track of how often you treat yourself to an expensive dinner.

Discover Insider’s tips on saving money »

Furthermore, in addition to agreeing on a fun money budget, you and your partner must reach a consensus on how to prioritize paying off your student loans. It is understandable that your partner feels a sense of urgency in becoming debt-free, considering the burden it represents. However, your inclination to stick to the original plan and take it at a more manageable pace is also valid. The solution lies in finding a compromise on the repayment amount, just like with the allowance.

It may be challenging for your partner, given their anxiety surrounding the student loans, to accept a compromise. They might view their priorities as superior to yours, making them reluctant to consider finding middle ground. However, when it comes to shared finances, both partners must find a way to ensure fairness, even if their money values differ.

Wishing you both the best,

For Love & Money



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