You’ve heard that opposites attract, and nowhere is there more proof of that than in how couples deal with money.
While it might not be black and white in your case, odds are one of you trends towards a ‘spender’ mentality, and one of you is the ‘saver’.
Spenders love to have fun, go out all the time, eat good food, drink good wine, and buy nice clothes. Vacations are a priority in their lives, and this lifestyle is very important to them.
This does not mean they’re irresponsible with money, but it may mean they have a harder time doing things like thinking about retirement planning or long-term savings.
Savers can be completely neurotic (“I can buy this $2 coffee, but if I saved it the interest over 25 years would mean this coffee actually costs $10.85”). Others just believe in paying attention to their money and making sure they’re in control of it instead of it being in control of them.
A saver probably has a chunk of money saved as an emergency fund, and has probably set up a retirement account.
While they don’t avoid spending money on nice things, they will think carefully about doing so.
Spenders Vs. Savers – The Argument That Never Ends
If you and your partner are divided along these lines, you probably have frequent disagreements over a lot of decisions you make. The saver is probably trying to set up a budget so you can both discuss and plan things out, and the spender probably doesn’t want to look at it. Even if you agree to a budget, you may not stick to it as you’re just not used to paying attention.
The spenders may get frustrated that you two “never do anything fun”, and the saver may be frustrated that you’re not doing enough to prepare for the future.
Spiraling Out Of Control
Make no mistake; this fundamental difference can cause huge problems for you both if they’re not addressed. Savers often feel they have to resort to “taking care of everything themselves”, going so far as to control all the money and only giving the other person an allowance.
Spenders will often rebel by making huge purchases, taking out extra loans or credit cards, and hiding these actions as long as possible.
This can even lead to more serious situations like when a spender starts feeling guilty about their transgression and starts gambling to recover the losses. This inevitably leads to even further losses that can completely bankrupt a family.
Learning How To Communicate
First, accept that your partner is never going to open their eyes one day and say “Wow, you were right, your way IS much better, this will never be a problem again!”
What you’re really dealing with are short-term vs. long-term goals. The spender wants to enjoy life today, and the saver wants to ensure a secure future. Neither of you should be against either of these things, so it’s just a matter of being open about your goals and priorities and making a plan to achieve everything you want.
Live For Today Or Live For The Future?
Many savers fall into the trap of trying to plan out their lives so they’ll be able to retire comfortably – completely ignoring the healthy, happy years between now and then. 65 is not the time to start enjoying your life.
Conversely, living every day with a ‘you only live once’ attitude can be disastrous down the road as you’ll end up struggling for the rest of your life to afford a home and provide a stable life for your children and for yourselves when you retire.
By now you should know if you’re the spender or the saver in your relationship, and which one your partner is. To get the ball rolling on any conversations you’ll be having, start thinking about how your way of thinking might be negating other important aspects of your life. What are the things your partner is always telling you to think about? Spend time considering how having those things would make you happier (ignoring for now the ‘cost’ to doing them).
We’ll talk in a future article about how to have the first conversation and properly set goals that help you both achieve what you want.