Good relationships are all about balance—hence the old “opposites attract” adage. The spontaneous and disorganized often gravitate toward pragmatic planners. A naturally shy person might feel drawn to a charismatic socialite.
Similarly, this yin-and-yang dynamic often translates to joint finances. Money spenders and money savers might seem like an incompatible pair, but it’s a surprisingly common (and successful) match.
It’s all about taking the right approach to managing assets.
Finding Love In The Illogical
We often classify “savers” and “spenders” as opposites. But in reality, they’re better categorized as complements. These personality types can round out and fortify the other when they work in tandem.
For example, a saver might prioritize emergency funds and retirement over living in the moment. While they might enjoy the benefits of this foresight further down the road, they struggle to find similar joy in the present. Spenders can help remind savers that there’s more to life than planning for the future.
Conversely, spenders can jeopardize their future by a lack of planning. Savers help their less frugal counterparts stay grounded and focused. Too much spending and couples can start to drown in debt and stress. Alternatively, too much saving can leave both parties bored, uptight, and unsatisfied.
These complementary mindsets create a system of checks and balances in the relationship that, ideally, levels both sides out. But since time has a sneaky way of magnifying differences in opinion, it’s crucial for these couples to maintain healthy, open communication.
Making Money Mash-Ups More Manageable
As relationships progress and each person makes larger emotional and financial investments, the topic of finances can become a point of contention. In fact, money is one of the most common stressors in relationships. But it doesn’t have to be.
Following these helpful tips (and following them regularly) can lighten the load of constant financial fussing.
1. Be Open With Your Emotional (And Financial) Baggage
We are the products of our upbringing, plain and simple. While we all internalize and act on our childhood experiences differently, the link between then and now is undeniable. Sharing these experiences with your partner is vital.
Money can be a deeply personal subject. Savers might start to feel jilted by constant spenders, while spenders might feel ignored by diligent savers. An awareness of how one’s childhood might affect their money habits can help take some of the personal affronts out of financial differences.
Doing this alone won’t stop financial issues from happening, but it can at least make them more explainable.
2. Have Regular Money Dates (We’re Talking Monthly)
Forget dinner and a movie. If you’re looking to increase intimacy and trust, then you’ll need a money date. A money date is a planned time for a couple to sit down and review all things financial—current assets, concerns, goals, etc.
Money dates should start simple. Assuming you’ve already unpacked all your financial and emotional baggage, it’s best to start with financial beliefs, goals, and concerns. What does each partner value and, in turn, is willing to invest in? What is each partner’s financial risk tolerance? Their short- and long-term goals?
Don’t be so quick to call this convo one-and-done, either. People change, and so do their financial beliefs. Checking in periodically can help avoid larger miscommunications further down the road. Next, it’s time to start budgeting.
3. Actually Compromise On Spending Plans
Creating weekly or monthly budgets and spending thresholds can clear up any money misunderstandings before they cause an argument. Compromise is crucial in this exercise. No one party should leave feeling like they “won.”
Rather, both parties will likely feel vindicated and bummed out for different reasons. This is a natural consequence of accountability and being pushed out of your comfort zone. It might feel strange at first. But eventually, you might come to like this new “normal” better than the old one.
Remember that this is a team effort. Too much responsibility on any one person is a breeding ground for resentment, anger, and alienation. And if you can’t manage to find your footing as a team, then try calling in reinforcements.
4. Seek Outside Help
In a perfect world, we would be able to work through communication breakdowns with a little bit of hard work and empathy. But a perfect world this is not, and it’s hard to see the forest for the trees in the middle of a heated debate.
If you and your partner are struggling to find common ground, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. The APA’s latest Stress in America survey cites 72% of Americans feeling stressed about money within the last month. Financial problems don’t make you irresponsible or lesser than—it’s normal.
So, why should financial therapy be any different? This type of counseling introduces a neutral viewpoint to an otherwise volatile subject. An unbiased third party can untangle the emotional from the objective—or even introduce the two whenever necessary.
Finally, it’s important to remember that while money is an important part of life, it’s not life itself. If a couple is committed to maintaining an honest, accountable relationship, then no financial hurdle is too big to tackle together.