How Savers and Spenders Can Stay Happy in Their Marriages
Good relationships are all about balance, hence the old adage “opposites attract”. The spontaneous and the disorganized often gravitate toward pragmatic planners. A naturally shy person might feel attracted to a charismatic socialite.
Likewise, this yin and yang dynamic often results in common finances. Money spenders and money savers may seem like an incompatible pair, but it’s a surprisingly common (and successful) match.
It’s about taking the right approach to managing assets.
Finding love in the illogical
We often categorize “savers” and “spenders” as opposites. But in reality, they are better classified as supplements. These personality types can complement and strengthen each other when they work in tandem.
For example, a saver might prioritize emergency funds and retirement over living in the moment. While they may reap the benefits of this foresight later, they struggle to find similar joy in the present. Spenders can help remind savers that there is more to life than planning for the future.
Conversely, spenders can jeopardize their future through lack of planning. Savers help their less frugal counterparts stay grounded and focused. Spend too much and couples can start drowning in debt and stress. Alternatively, too much saving can leave both parties feeling bored, tense and unsatisfied.
These complementary mindsets create a system of checks and balances in the relationship that ideally levels both sides. But because time has a sneaky way of amplifying differences of opinion, it’s crucial for these couples to maintain healthy and open communication.
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Make money mash-ups more manageable
As relationships progress and each person makes greater emotional and financial investments, the topic of finances can become a point of contention. In fact, money is one of the most common stressors in relationships. But it doesn’t have to.
By following these helpful tips (and following them regularly) can ease the burden of constant financial hassle.
1. Be open with your emotional (and financial) baggage
We are the product of our upbringing, pure and simple. As we all internalize and act differently on our childhood experiences, the connection between yesterday and today is undeniable. Sharing these experiences with your partner is essential.
Money can be a deeply personal matter. Savers might start to feel let down by consistent spenders, while spenders might feel ignored by diligent savers. An awareness of how a person’s childhood can affect their financial habits can help eliminate some of the personal slights that come with financial differences.
Doing this alone won’t prevent financial problems from occurring, but it can at least make them more explainable.
2. Have regular money dates (we’re talking monthly)
Forget dinner and a movie. If you’re looking to increase intimacy and trust, you’ll need a silver date. A money date is a scheduled time for a couple to sit down and go over all things financial – current assets, concerns, goals, etc.
Money dates should start simple. Assuming you’ve already unpacked all of your financial and emotional baggage, it’s best to start with financial beliefs, goals, and concerns. What does each partner appreciate and, in turn, is willing to invest? What is each partner’s financial risk tolerance? Their short and long term goals?
Don’t be so quick to call this one-and-done convo, either. People change and so do their financial beliefs. Checking in periodically can help avoid bigger communication problems later. Next, it’s time to start budgeting.
3. Really Compromise on spending plans
Creating weekly or monthly budgets and spending thresholds can clear up any financial misunderstandings before they cause an argument. Compromise is crucial in this exercise. No party should leave feeling like they’ve “won”.
On the contrary, both parties will likely feel vindicated and disappointed for different reasons. It’s a natural consequence of responsibility and being pushed out of your comfort zone. It may seem strange at first. But eventually, you might end up liking this new “normal” better than the old one.
Remember, this is teamwork. Too much responsibility on one person is a breeding ground for resentment, anger and alienation. And if you can’t find your place in the team, then try calling in reinforcements.
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4. Seek outside help
In a perfect world, we would be able to overcome communication breakdowns with a little hard work and empathy. But it’s not a perfect world, and it’s hard to see the forest for the trees amid heated debate.
If you and your partner are struggling to find common ground, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. The APA’s latest Stress in America survey cites 72% of Americans who felt stressed about money in the past month. Financial problems don’t make you irresponsible or inferior – it’s Ordinary.
So why should financial therapy be any different? This type of advice introduces a neutral point of view on an otherwise unstable topic. An impartial third party can disentangle the emotional from the objective, or even introduce both if necessary.
Finally, it is important to remember that while money is an important part of life, it is not life itself. If a couple is committed to maintaining an honest and responsible relationship, no financial obstacle is too great to overcome together.