If you believe the old axiom “opposites attract,” you won’t be surprised if you find yourself in a relationship with someone who’s different from you. But when money habits are one of those differences, your partner’s quirks can quickly go from charming to alarming. It is definitely challenging for spenders and savers to navigate being in relationships together, but certainly not impossible. Here are some tips to help spenders and savers find common ground.
Begin with a Budget
So many money conversations begin with budgeting. That’s because it’s one of the simplest, most effective ways to manage money. Keeping track of how much money you have coming in, going out, and most importantly, where it’s going, is the first step toward taking control of your finances as a couple.
Budgeting will probably come more naturally to the saver than to the spender, so allow some time for mistakes and adjustments. Build both savings goals and fun money into the budget. That way both people in the relationship feel their needs are being recognized.
Set a Spending Limit
No one likes being told what to do. And spenders, in particular, won’t respond well to being told they can’t spend any money without consulting their partner. To remedy this, both of you should agree on a pre-set spending limit that doesn’t require checking with the other person before spending money. This lets both people retain a sense of autonomy with funds and make everyday purchases without it becoming an issue.
Focus on Shared Values
You won’t agree on everything related to finances, but look for the areas where your goals and desires overlap with your partner’s. Things like buying or upgrading a home, driving safe, reliable vehicles and taking family vacations are common goals that many couples are excited to save for together. Plus, making progress toward saving for the big things can help a spender see the value in saving.
Go on Money Dates
One reason many couples hate talking about money is because they only do it when something has gone wrong. Those conversations almost always end in bad feelings, with both parties walking away feeling misunderstood. But you can avoid that by having regular “money dates” where you talk about your financial successes and challenges in an open, honest way, without all the tension. Spend quality time together once a month evaluating and adjusting your budget, and checking on your progress toward your savings goals. When finances become just a regular conversation, instead of a crisis, you might even find you enjoy talking about them.
Find Out Why
People’s money habits don’t develop in a vacuum. Like many things, their roots tend to go all the way back to childhood. Talk with your partner about how their family handled money matters when they were growing up. It will help you understand the habits they have now, and what you can do to make them feel more secure in the relationship.