ó While Pittsburgh-area residents Collin and Jasmine
McHenry have never imposed a limit on how much they can
spend on a big-ticket item without consulting each
other, what they do have is an agreement on how much
each will contribute to the household budget each month.
That seems to be enough to keep their finances on track.
I were to buy a new car or a house, that is something I
would run by my wife," said McHenry, 32. "The
man who doesnít do that is looking to stir up
donít always see eye-to-eye on managing their
finances, which is why Minneapolis-based Ameriprise
Financial recently surveyed 1,500 couples ages 25 to 70
to find out how they work together and what lessons
could be learned from those who have figured out how to
get on the same page.
of the most compelling findings is that couples who live
in financial harmony often set spending limits on any
purchase they make without consulting their partner. The
average limit for millennial couples in their 20s and
early 30s was around $100. For baby boomers, the limit
was around $400 on average.
who had spending limits said it did help them, but many
couples ó about one-third of them ó did not have a
spending limit," said Marcy Keckler, vice president
of financial advice strategies at Ameriprise. "The
ones who were most content and happy had agreed to a
doesnít mean checking on every little purchase.
did find out some couples do some spending without
consulting their partner," Keckler said. "The
most common reason was they didnít feel the purchase
was large enough to justify checking with their partner.
But the important thing is not the dollar amount. Itís
good communication. Couples who have greater
communication about their money tend to have greater
when Jeff Nayhouse, 59, and his wife Patty, 58, also
residents of the Pittsburgh region, were starting out
and money was tight, they never set a limit on how much
each could spend. Now that they have built successful
businesses and can afford more luxuries, they still see
no need for establishing guidelines ó especially since
they trust each other not to spend foolishly.
are both reasonable enough not to spend $2,000 on
something if we donít have it. Neither of us are
flagrant spenders either," Nayhouse said.
said he knows someone who found out during the course of
a divorce that the wife had maxed out all of the coupleís
credit cards without his knowledge.
wife and I donít have that issue," Nayhouse said.
"She doesnít even own a piece of jewelry. I tell
her sometimes to please go buy something. If she wants
to buy a jacket and it costs $200, she is not going to
have to call me up and ask if she can buy the
Richey, executive vice president at Fragasso Financial
Advisors in Pittsburgh, hasnít seen much evidence of
people establishing spending benchmarks.
my experience of 20 years as an adviser, I have never
seen a couple come to the table with a defined
expectation of what they can spend without consulting
the other," she said. "Couples are not talking
about this stuff. They barely have time to eat dinner
together as a family, let alone talk about how much
money they can spend."
most common scenario she has seen is that the right hand
often is not aware of what the left hand is doing.
is a leading factor in financial ruin and relationship
failure, she said.
couples donít get on the same page about money, it
will lead to other problems, such as trust issues,"
Richey said. "If someone feels they can spend
whatever they want without consulting their spouse,
there wonít be a lot of trust in that
doesnít plan to change a system thatís working.
sure my wife spends more than $100 on things she wants
without checking with me, and I do the same thing,"
you are not able to make rent or pay the mortgage,
something is wrong and you have to check on that,"
he said. "But if everything is going right, there
is no need to nit-pick each other."