Does your spouse have every new gadget before it has even reached the shelf of the retailer? Are you surprised every month when the credit card bill arrives at how much more your partner has spent than you thought? If you answered “yes” to the above questions, you are more likely to be the frugal spender while your spouse/partner is more likely to indulge.
More than numbers – Opposites attract
Money is just money, right? Not really. The saying that opposites attract couldn’t be any more true when it comes to money. We each have our internal money wiring, which is reflected in how we save, spend, invest and give. Add to that, and we also have our individual ‘money stories’ from life circumstances. Understanding these differences is crucial otherwise we can easily create conflict approaching our spouse.
How to find the balance
It is unrealistic to expect your partner to change your way of handling money, much like it is unrealistic for you to change your spouse’s. While it will ebb and flow, there is a way to find a balance so that you both feel comfortable and alleviate frustration and conflict.
Design a financial date with your spouse
One of the most important things you can do for your relationship is to have regular ‘financial dates’ to understand your money mindsets. This can be as simple as a picnic by candlelight on the floor in your home to a dressed-up evening at your favourite romantic restaurant. Decide how often works best for you, although monthly is typically a good routine.
If you’ve never done anything like this before, take the initiative by designing the first one according to your core money personalities. Having consistent financial dates and finding that middle ground balance will help you better understand your finances.
Understand your money mindsets
There are 5 money personality types, says psychology expert. Identifying which ones you and your partner fall under, understanding the pitfalls of each, as well as why you and your spouse have an opposite money mindset, can significantly improve your relationship (not only with money). It can help you do things like spend less on impulse purchases, be better about budgeting, invest wisely and ensure a nice nest egg for retirement.
- The Nurturer: This is someone who will keep others in mind when making financial decisions (even though sometimes they’re aware putting others first may not be possible).
- The Epicurean: He/she may enjoy spending money, but usually, with a spending goal in mind. They typically seek “the good life” and like the “finer things”.
- The Independent: These people deeply value freedom and autonomy. It’s important to them to live life on their terms and to have the freedom to follow their bliss. They tend not to think about money unless it’s getting in the way of living life the way they want.
- The Producer: Grounded, diligent, and consistent when it comes to managing their money. They watch over it carefully, enjoy accumulating it, and watching it grow.
- The Visionary: He/she see money as a tool for self-expression, and a means to follow. They are driven to do what they love for work and are equally excited when they are working toward consistent success financially.
Do you see yourself and your spouse/partner in any of the above? Be aware that most people are primarily dominant in one area and may have the others’ underlying traits.
Next, talk about your backgrounds
Every one of us has a “money story” rooted in childhood that continued to develop in our adolescent, teen, and young adult years. The key here is to be able to talk about this freely and without judgment. You both need to feel safe in this conversation because many of us have deep heart-wounds from childhood that have a way of triggering potential financial trauma from those memories of long ago.
A few questions to reflect on are:
- What were early feelings about money?
- What were your parent’s circumstances and attitudes about money?
- What were some of your money behaviours growing up?
- Were there any addictions in the family growing up that affected the family finances?
- What did your parents do together for fun? How did money impact your family in terms of vacations and fun activities?
- What messages involving careers and money did you get from your parents?
Create goals and middle-ground strategies
Goal-setting as a couple is just as crucial as goal-setting for each of you as an individual. Successful relationships are a journey of compromise, forgiveness, and of course, love. When it comes to money, it is essential that you both have an equal say and can come to an agreement regarding saving, spending, investing, and giving.
For example, on small purchases (items bought daily or weekly), what amount do you feel comfortable your spouse should spend without feeling guilty or without getting frustrated? Ask your spouse the same.
Is that amount too high for you or too low for your spouse? What is the middle ground you can both agree on?
Next, what amount would you and your spouse consider a more significant purchase that should require a conversation and agreement between the two of you?
Implement a Financial Journey Document
Lastly, implement a financial journey document. This is where you and your spouse/partner document and review your dreams, goals, and decisions made from the initial financial data and all the other ones going forward.
Rules and budgets have a restrictive implication, especially for natural spenders. How about calling them “Adoring Agreements” and “Soulful Spending Plans”?
Whatever you’d like to call them know that the most important thing is to honour both of your personalities in that balanced space.
Remember, if you can’t get aligned on larger financial goals, you still can control your own spending. Start balancing the chequebook, review credit card statements, and gather the information for your entire financial picture to help you figure out where to start. Rather than competing over money, find ways you can minimize spending (eg. cooking at home instead of going to a restaurant or having a walk in the countryside instead of shopping).
Even if efforts like these don’t “make up for” your spouses’ spending, you are setting a good example.