A lot of how you deal with money is dictated by your personality, but chances are you haven’t really thought about it in that way. Each person has a different personality, and sometimes it’s hard to reconcile that when you see the money decisions your spouse makes. In those situations, it’s difficult not to allow it to cause contention in your marriage. But understanding your money personality can be the first step in helping you shape your approach to your own spending, saving and investing for the future, as well as your approach to working with your loved one.
The major personality profiles are, shoppers, debtors, big spenders, savers and investors. Which one are you and what can you do to work with loved ones who may be fundamentally different?
You get a lot of emotional satisfaction when you spend money. Sometimes it’s hard to resist it. You look for deals, even if it’s something you don’t need. You’re aware of the problem and worry about the long-term consequences. There are times when you shop as entertainment, even though you don’t plan on using the items.
If you are married to a shopper, have patience. Talk about the importance of not spending money you don’t have. Consider whether or not owning credit cards is a good thing. Try to find out if the shopping is an attempt to make up for something else in her life that is lacking. Once you pinpoint that, work on it together and with patience.
You aren’t necessarily trying to make a statement or fulfill some sort of need by spending your money. You simply just don’t pay attention to where any of it is going. Money isn’t something you think about a lot, and you can end up deeply in debt as you continue to spend more than you earn. You don’t give a lot of thought to investing for the future, and you aren’t taking advantage of savings opportunities.
If your spouse is a debtor, the paramount need is communication. Most problems in marriage regarding debt are due to poor communication. Talk about the future. Talk about and set individual and combined goals. Be open and honest about your concerns, but be patient and don’t be condescending. Active communication can help your spouse understand the consequences of his or her actions and to motivate them to make needed changes.
You love nice things — cars, electronics, clothing, etc. You are very concerned with appearances and making a statement, so you want to have the best of everything. You’re always wearing new clothes and introducing your friends to the newest gadget upgrades. You don’t shop for bargains and aren’t afraid of going into debt.
If you are married to a big spender, talk about your priorities. It can be hard for him to look past his spending habits, especially if he grew up in that environment, but it can help him broaden his horizons and see other things that are important to you and to your family’s future.
. You’re a saver if you read the description of big spenders with utter disgust. You turn off the lights and keep the thermostat at uncomfortable temperatures to save a few bucks. You spend money only when you absolutely have to and really don’t care about the latest fashion or technology trends. You monitor your bank statements and get more satisfaction from seeing the balance increase than anything you could buy.
If you happen to have a spouse who is a saver, recognize the good that can come from her habits. But help her to see the significance of living in the present. Many savers look forward to reaping the benefits of their habits sometime in the future, generally in retirement. But habits can become so deeply entrenched that they may never be able to turn the switch off and enjoy what they have saved. Look to find a balance between living in the present and saving for the future. Help her learn to distinguish the difference between delaying gratification in a positive way rather than just for the sake of delaying gratification.
. You are always aware of what your money is doing for you. You know what your financial situation is at all times, and you are constantly seeking for opportunities to build passive income so that you can eventually live on it alone. You make decisions carefully and are not afraid to sit on a decision to give yourself a little time to research it a little more. You aren’t afraid to take on a little risk to achieve your goals but are not willing to risk too much.
If your spouse is an investor, congratulations! For the most part, you should be good to go. However, no one is driven purely by one of these personality types. Look for traces of others and seek to communicate in order to improve your family’s financial plan.
In all situations and regardless of which personality you are or are trying to influence, don’t view your spouse as weak-willed or inferior. Understand that his personality is a product of a lifetime of experiences and circumstances. Keep your marriage a high priority, but don’t be afraid to stand up to harmful behavior, especially if your family’s financial well-being affects your children. Be patient and considerate of their needs as well as your own. Be honest and open, but not condescending. After all, the goal is to make things better, and that generally happens best with positive reinforcement. Here are some more tips for talking about money within a marriage.
Ben lives with his wife, Kilee, and dog, Paisley, in Arkansas. He has a passion for personal finance, sports, and learning. Ben recently started a blog at www.wealthgospel.com where you can find more of his opinions on personal finance. His life goals are to write about personal finance all day and start a non-profit organization to help others become self-reliant and to find their true potential. On any given day, you could find him eating homemade salsa, picking blackberries, or staying up until 3 a.m. to finish a book.