Which is more important, money or love?
Would you stay in a relationship with someone you love who has vastly different approaches to finances and ideas of financial well-being?
Someone came to the R/frugal Reddit community seeking advice upon breaking up with their boyfriend.
“How do you get over that feeling that you chose money over love,” the original poster (OP) asked. “I don’t want that to be true, but I feel like that’s what happened.”
It Was Probably a Good Decision
Community members quickly came to OP’s defense, offering fantastic advice and insight into the situation.
“OP, if you truly broke up over how you see finances, you may have saved yourself from a life of misery,” replied one user. “When a couple are of two disparate minds when it comes to money, their relationship has a good chance of being doomed.”
The user also reminded OP that financial disputes are a leading cause of divorce in the US.
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Is It Really About the Money?
Others pointed out that financial differences may be symptoms of a different problem.
“Many relationships are broken under the guise of money, but it’s my opinion the break was actually communication and respect,” said another Redditor.
They went on to explain how a successful and healthy relationship works. “Listening is part of communication. If you said to your partner, “I need three months’ worth of bills in savings before I would feel safe.” And they go out and buy a brand new item that was a want, you would feel disrespected.”
“Money represents many things in a relationship, priorities, control, and caring. Most likely, it was some other underlying issue the money represented which caused the problems,” added another.
Users Shared Similar Stories
Some users empathized with OP, sharing their own stories of lost love due to finances.
“My ex-husband was terrible with money, and I realized much later it was not the money that was really the issue,” began one user.
“When I would work overnight in a scary group home situation, and he would go out with friends and spend more than I made, it made me feel like I was only working so he could go out. When he bought a video game and then we had to pay the electric bill late, it made me feel that my security wasn’t as important as his hobbies. When I wanted to budget, but he would not stick to it, I felt that my needs and wants did not matter.”
The user explained that they’d never be comfortable having kids with someone who had such a vastly different view of money. They’d never be able to afford kids or retire, and life would be a constant struggle.
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Love is Not Enough
Although we’re constantly fed love conquers all fairytales, most users admit it’s not enough. Love doesn’t pay the bills, give you a place to live, or put food on the table.
“Love is not enough to sustain a relationship,” stated one user. “You need mutual respect, good communication, some shared interests, common goals, and similar values in many areas,” they added.
Love may be the spark that initiates a romance, but it’s not enough for a lasting partnership. Two people must be compatible, have similar goals and values, and be on the same page about important topics.
Finances are only one of the many things couples should agree on if they plan to stay together. Partners need to discuss when and if to have children, whether religion will be an integral part of their lives, where to live, and what they want out of life. Even when deeply in love, if a couple can’t agree on crucial aspects of life, they may be better off parting and finding someone more compatible.
Trust is Vital
Another Redditor asked whether they really wanted to be with someone they couldn’t trust to handle the finances.
If you can’t trust that your partner won’t open new lines of credit behind your back or stop making impulse purchases, how can you trust them to manage finances if you get sick?
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It Can Work With Compromise
Some couples make it work. One partner does the accounting, while the other is more hands-off. However, both parties agree to a budget and support each other in their roles.
Many users shared that their relationship only works because one handles all the money. The other typically understand the importance of financial responsibility, and although they’d blow the money if in their pocket, they do a great job of maintaining balance with their partner.
One user shared that they were a saver while their partner was a spender. “We budgeted together and paid bills together, and if there was extra money, he would blow it,” they shared, adding they’d get (understandably!) angry at the lack of savings.
The Redditor shared that their financial situation stressed them out, so they started hiding money and stashing any bonuses away in an emergency fund.
“When our kids were babies, he got laid off, and my emergency fund was enough to keep us going until he found another job.” It was the wake-up call he needed. The user shared that since then, their husband took a hands-off approach to finances, and if he wanted something, he asked.
Of course, situations like this only work when both parties are on board. When one feels like they’re missing out or not allowed to do what they want, resentment can build.
Would You Leave Someone You Love Over Money?
Most r/frugal users agreed: being on the same page regarding finances is vital to a successful relationship.
What do you think? Would you leave someone with different values when it comes to spending money, or do you think you could make it work?
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.