One of the reasons couples disagree about money is that money means different things to each of them. For some people, money provides a sense of security, of being taken care of; this kind of person would tend to be cautious about spending money and would try hard to put money in the bank. For others, money provides a sense of freedom; they might exercise a more carefree attitude. Of course, most of us fall somewhere in between. There is no right or wrong way to think about money, but it's important to create a budget that works for both of you.
The first step is to figure out where each of you stands with respect to money. Go through the following lists and decide what best describes you. If you are a saver, you probably have some of the following traits:
- You can never have enough money in the bank.
- It's a waste of money to order drinks in a restaurant. The water is free.
- You always keep your eye on the time when you're making a long-distance telephone call.
- Meeting the household budget is very important to you.
- It's better to travel at an inconvenient time than spend extra money for an airplane ticket.
- You rarely buy a hardback version of a book. You wait for the paperback or go to the library.
- You try to buy everything on sale.
- You spend a lot of time planning for the future.
If you are a spender, you probably have some of the following traits:
- You usually buy what you need or want without much regard for price.
- A lot of money in the bank is meaningless if you don't let yourself spend it.
- Your convenience is usually more important than the cost of an airline ticket.
- When you're eating out in a restaurant, you order whatever you want on the menu.
- You would rather go over your household budget sometimes than have to constantly be thinking about money.
- You talk on the phone long-distance without worrying about the time.
- You don't wait for an item you want to be on sale.
- Life is to be enjoyed here and now.
Saver and Spender Combinations
Now, go through the spender and saver lists and determine which one best describes your spouse. Determine which combination of traits the two of you have:
- One saver and one spender
- Two spenders
- Two savers
Each pair of traits will result in different sorts of disagreements. Just because both of you are spenders or savers doesn't mean you won't have any money problems. The following sections will show you what to watch out for.
One Saver and One Spender
If one of you is a saver and one of you is a spender, you'll probably have many disagreements about money. But you can also learn a lot from each other about enjoying life (on the one hand) and planning for the future (on the other). The person who is the spender might feel a sense of security being with someone who is more cautious about money. And the person who is more restrained might be able to enjoy life more with someone who is more spontaneous about money.
Read the following list to find out what can be expected in a saver-and-spender household:
If you and your spouse view money differently, you can turn it into a positive experience. The spender can learn about security, and the saver can learn to have more fun.
- You will probably have frequent squabbles about money.
- When the spender buys what he or she wants, the saver will feel resentful because he or she won't indulge themselves in the same luxury.
- The spender will feel like his or her spouse is too controlling about money.
- The saver might secretly feel jealous that the spender can spend money so easily.
- The spender might secretly feel secure, knowing that his or her spouse is careful about money.