Have you ever fought over a utility bill because your spouse likes to keep the house warm during the winter months?
What about the time you got impatient because your spouse took a long time to compare two smartphones so he could get the “best deal”?
Does one of you obsess over the budget while the other will swipe their credit card without a care in the world?
We all have different money personalities based on how we act around money.
What happens when you and your partner have competing personalities?
You may have a rockier time than most when working towards financial health, but it’s not impossible.
Once you understand what these money personalities are and how they clash, you can get on the same page financially.
What’s Your Money Personality?
It’s not just about spending and saving, but how these actions make a person feel.
Clare Dube, a financial therapist practicing in Madison, Connecticut, believes there are two basic money personalities people fall into.
“You can get more specific but people are either a spender or a saver,” she says. “Typically savers plan for purchases, automate savings, avoid paying full price, and focus on the future. Spenders are what you’d consider the opposite, seen as more the risk-taker and focusing on instant gratification.”
A popular online assessment, Money Habitues, determines money personalities by having participants sort through cards—think solitaire—and tallying up their score.
It reveals money habits.
Maybe you’re the type of person who splurges on a meal at a nice restaurant. Do you set aside money for emergencies or for purchasing a designer watch? If you spend money, you have a money personality.
Getting more granular, here are specific money personalities based off the spender and saver mentality:
YOLO – These personalities can’t seem to control their spending. If they want something, they’ll purchase it no matter the cost.
Penny Pincher – These personalities are obsessed with spending as little as possible. They’re always looking for the best deal and would rather do something themselves than pay someone else.
The Joneses – These personalities want to show off how well-off they are. They purchase luxury goods and experiences all in the name of keeping up with the Joneses.
Controller – These personalities are obsessed with money, constantly checking their balances. They’ll try to convince their family to do things their way, even if it means using guilt tactics.
Blamer – These personalities feel like they’re victims and blame others for their problems with money. There always seems to be a situation that’s outside their control.
Giver – These personalities like to give money and gifts to other people. They can’t help but pick up the tab when out for drinks and they tend to buy presents just because they “feel” like it.
How Do Money Personalities Play Out in Real Life?
Let’s say you are a penny pincher and your partner likes to spend.
You both decide to purchase a new mattress because yours has seen better days. As you’re ready to research the type of mattress you want and compare the prices of different brands, your partner comes home with a brand new mattress strapped on the car roof. Quicker than you can say pillow top, you might find yourself in an argument.
Partners who investigate their money personalities together might avoid potential fights.
Are you more spontaneous than your partner when it comes to money?
Do you spend money on lavish gifts to show others how much you love them?
Does your spouse prefer that you don’t spend money because it’s an opportunity to beef up your emergency fund?
These seemingly small differences of opinion can lead to a lack of trust in the relationship.
Misty Lynch, Twine’s CFP® explains, “When couples argue about money there are often other emotional issues involved. A partner who likes to spend might feel controlled by their partner who likes to save. A saver may feel the spender is compromising their financial stability or safety by spending on things they don’t value.”
How Couples Can Create Shared Savings Goals
Take some time to reflect on your money habits.
Ask yourself questions like, “What gets you the most frustrated about money?” or “What do you enjoy most when it comes to your financial life?”
Whenever you start having discussions about shared savings goals, focus on putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.
“Understanding the way your partner feels about money will help you set boundaries before things heat up,” Lynch says.
Before getting granular about the tactics on how to succeed in your financial goals, start talking about your life goals.
“Our views around money are formed when we are young, long before we get in a relationship with anyone. If money is uncomfortable, try talking with your partner about your values. If there are things that you both agree are important like family, education, and security, it will be easier for you both to agree where to spend money,” Lynch adds.
For example, when my husband and I brainstormed our top 3 goals, we found we both wanted to live closer to the beach.
Our conversations became, “How can we save for a house in our dream location?” From there we calculated how big a house we could afford and the amount needed for a down payment.
Once you’ve agreed on shared savings goals, hold each other accountable.
For example, you could agree to automatically transfer money to a savings account each month—my husband and I started with $200/month and increased it to $500/month. Or if your partner finds it hard to feel motivated to save up for a new car, having a visual reminder—such as an image of the car stuck on your refrigerator door—will help.
No matter what your savings goals are, communication is key.
The specific tactic you use to save isn’t as important as your commitment to a goal. Once you try out a new system, take time to see if it’s working and find a new solution if it’s not. Most importantly, listen to each other.
It’s not going to be easy in the beginning, but it’ll be worth it.
You’ll end up with a rock solid relationship and financial life, and that’s all that matters.
Sarah Li Cain is an experienced content marketing writer specializing in FinTech, credit, loans, personal finance, alternative investments, international business, travel and k12 education. Her work has appeared in Fortune 500 companies, publications and startups such as Lending Tree, Vistaprint, WordPress.org, Pearson Teachability. She’s also the host of Beyond The Dollar, whose mission is to have deep and honest conversations about how money affects our well-being.