How 10 Years of Marriage Have Changed My Money Habits

Anniversaries, like birthdays, tend to make one nostalgic. Today, Jon and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage. We got married on a lovely early fall day in Valle Crucis, NC, surrounded by friends and family.

Since then, Jon and I have done a lot of things together. We’ve moved twice, had a kid, each changed careers, and learned to cook WAY better. We’ve various adventures and surfed, swam, sailed, and snorkeled. And since life isn’t always an adventure, we’ve also vegged in front of the TV, built a fire pit, planted trees and cleaned house.

Marriage is both a learning experience and a compromise, and for most of us brings a lot of personal and mental changes. Looking back, I can see how we’ve both changed each other.

Jon’s lived with more tech in the last 10 years. He’s become more comfortable with online bill paying, smart phones, and internet shopping. I think he eats healthier (or at least more fruits and vegetables and less ramen noodles.) He is at least slightly more willing to get rid of things he no longer needs.

He’s changed, but I’ve changed more. In 10 years of marriage, I think I’ve changed for the better, not least in my spending habits and money management.

Saving Money Without Sacrifice

One of the first money lessons I learned from Jon was that any time you can save money without sacrificing anything, you’ve freed up money to do the things you want to do.

On our first Valentine’s Day together, Jon gave me a programmable thermostat.

I was completely bewildered by the sheer romance of this gift. My reaction: “Ummm, thanks?”

Jon tried to convince me that a programmable thermostat was actually a very romantic gift. It would save money that we could use to go out to dinner, travel, or save for the future. And we wouldn’t have to do anything different except keep the house a little less comfortable when we weren’t there.

He wasn’t trying to give me one romantic evening, he explained. He was trying to give me several.

Since then, Jon’s convinced me to try numerous small alterations in life that haven’t changed our lifestyle. His DIY projects save us considerable cash, allowing us to do other things.

He has convinced me, and now looking for easy savings is a habit. I’ve even done a few of my own projects, reducing our food waste and cutting our cable to the minimum. Every time we can make a substitution, cut back an expense, or give up something without impacting our quality of life gives us that much more to spend on things that will add to it.

How 10 Years of Marriage Have Changed My Money Habits


I have more extravagant tastes than Jon. My family traditions include big Christmases, fancy vacations, and nice dinners out.

Jon’s family did camp outs, homemade Chinese dinners and second-run movies. Over the years, I’ve done a lot more laid back relaxed celebrations and diversions, and I’ve found them every bit as effective and enjoyable as the more expensive ones.

I was a bit of a snob, and Jon’s helped me get over that.

Life doesn’t have to be fancy to be good. More expensive or more elaborate aren’t always better. While I still want to pay for quality, I now do a much better evaluation of whether I’m getting the premium I expect when I spend a bit more.

Business Savvy

Without Jon spurring my interest, I would never have started this blog.

When Jon and I got married, I had spent most of my work life with one small highly idiosyncratic used book store company. I had no idea how most businesses worked. I invested and saved some money, but I just knew the basics.

Jon called himself an “occupational tourist.” He’d worked in multiple roles for different companies and had an MBA. He was working on his securities license. He was a lot more savvy about jobs, businesses and money.

Where I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Project Runway, Jon watched business news for entertainment.

Soon I paid attention to business news, too. Then, knowing I wanted more from my career than the book stores could offer, I went for my own MBA.

Before Jon, I didn’t talk too much about money. With Jon, I talked about money or business on a daily basis. I read more. I paid attention. I became a lot more savvy.

Most importantly, I became a lot more curious. Money was interesting, and I had a lot more to learn.

I Can’t Do Everything

Jon and I were both older when we married, and I had gotten used to doing things by myself, for myself.

Some things were easy to release to Jon. When he wanted to mow the lawn or take care of the cars, I didn’t quibble. I knew his handyman skills were more advanced than mine.

Letting him take care of Little Bit’s college fund? I found that more difficult, but just as important. I didn’t distrust his abilities. I just had trouble letting go control. I wanted to make sure our daughter had money set aside for her future.

So did he.

I had to accept that as part of a couple, I’d have to sometimes let him make decisions for us. I had to trust they would be the right ones. Jon would make good decisions, even if they weren’t the same ones I’d make.

I still find it difficult to let someone else drive my our finances, even if I know I can easily grab the wheel as needed. But I find that the more I practice sharing control, the more I’m able to let go in other areas and the less stress I feel. 

10 Years of Marriage

So thanks, Jon. Thanks for 10 years of marriage. Thanks for your goofy dad jokes, mad maintenance man skills, endless patience, and frugal nature. Here’s to many more years of camp fire conversations exploring the world and coparenting.

What lessons have you learned from your money marriages/relationships? How have they made you a better person?

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and, Disease Called Debt*

Fun Money Mom



20 thoughts on “How 10 Years of Marriage Have Changed My Money Habits

    • Thanks. It makes a great story, and really illustrates how we were coming from very different perspectives.

  1. Happy Anniversary to both of you! Congrats! I could feel the connection you have and admiration for each other come through in your post and it gave me warm fuzzies. 🙂

    We will celebrate 19 years of marriage next month and been a couple for 24 years. We found each other very young, so it almost seems like we’ve grown up and become adults together. My husband is very laid back – I wasn’t so much when we were first together. He’s taught me to just let things go that don’t matter and focus on what’s truly important. I’m grateful for the guidance and think I’ve learned the lesson quite well.
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…Weekend Money Tip: Think you can’t save more money? 13 easy ways to saveMy Profile

    • Letting go of things is a tough one, and it helps me to be around someone who can encourage me to let go. (and not cuss so much!)

  2. Happy anniversary! Suzanne and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in July, and we were both older when we got married as well (second time for both of us). In the best of marriages, you naturally change each other for the better (not by design), and it sounds like you two have had a wonderful influence on each other. In my marriage, I’ve learned to track every penny (and we have 10 years of awesome data now) and she’s learned to save in more places. She’s shared her love of tech and spreadsheets, and I’ve shared my love of numbers and the story they tell. Financially, we were always close in our approach, but now we’re even closer.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…Moving to Another City: Are You Ready?My Profile

    • Well, belated congrats Gary. 10 years of expense tracking is amazing (we’re almost to the end of year one.) It’s great that you are still growing together.

  3. Happy Anniversary! And many more. It’s wonderful that Jon helped you get over being a “snob” and become more curious about money. I’m sure you’ve had a great influence on him too. How could you not? You’re so smart!

    We celebrated 14 yrs in April and got married older too. Like you and Jon we each have different strengths. I also found it difficult to give up control in some areas but I got over it. I grew up around too many old couples where the man always walked several feet behind the woman, so I don’t want to micromanage.
    Mrs Groovy recently posted…Did I Flunk My Own Positivity Challenge?My Profile

    • Aww thanks.
      It can still be hard to find the balance between “You do it” with “But this is MY thing.” I don’t know if that’s just me or the whole “I was an adult on my own for almost 2 decades before I met you.”

    • If I couldn’t laugh about this stuff, I’d be in trouble, and I often find I have “interpret Daddy” for our 6 year old. But he has to explain when I get a little uptight about things.

  4. That’s so great, here’s to many more decades of marriage to come 🙂 I’m nowhere near close to being married but I would have a hard time relinquishing control of finances, too. I love the fact that I control money and money will not complain but I don’t know how the communication will be like if my significant other also decides that she’s good with money too. Will cross that bridge when I get to it, ha!
    Finance Solver recently posted…Make the Most of Time and Achieve MoreMy Profile

    • It’s much easier when both members of a couple are money savvy, because even if you both are used to control you are working toward the same goals. I wasn’t frugal and could have saved more, but I was still careful about my use of credit, payment history and investment choices. And that made me far more willing to learn from Jon.

      One thing Jon and I did since we both were used to control was take a very gradual approach to combining finances. We kept separate bank accounts for the first few years, and still maintain separate investment accounts and credit cards. That gave us time to get comfortable with each other’s money choices.

    • When you can put questionable behavior in the past, it’s a little easier to admit. We were just talking last night about the fact that my $20 bottles of Pinot Noir have become Three Buck Chuck and my Fresh Market jaunts have been replaced by Aldi.
      And yes, we’ve had nice nights out…and the money we saved went to some pretty great vacations/dinners.

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