Most, if not all, couples argue about money at some point, often on a regular basis. But where you spend and where you save doesn’t have to be a point of contention. We have some expert advice for getting on the same page about money.
We asked Scott and Bethany Palmer, aka The Money Couple, for their insight into putting a stop to fights about finances for good.
Which money personality are you?
“Every person has a distinct way of thinking about and dealing with money, and in a relationship, those distinctions can be the difference between being on the same page about money issues and having money be a constant source of conflict,” the Palmers explain. “We’ve found that everyone has what we call money personalities — a primary one and a secondary one.”
You can figure out your money personalities with their quick but comprehensive Money Personality Profile quiz. There are five money personalities according to The Money Couple, each with their own pros and cons.
Luckily, there is no right or wrong money personality, especially if you learn how to make yours work. “Once you and your spouse embrace your money personalities you can see where you agree and where you collide,” The Money Couple says. “Then you can take this new bit of information and start to work as a team as you stop fighting and start rebuilding your life together.”
How compatible are you and your spouse?
The Palmers have identified something called the “Opposite Dynamic.” When one money personality falls on one side of the spectrum and the other one falls on the opposite side of the spectrum, that person has the “Opposite Dynamic,” they explain. “When two people have two different money personalities, collisions happen and bickering happens.” If, for instance, one person is a Saver/Spender and the other person is a Security Seeker/Flyer, you can expect some sparks to fly.
If you did marry someone with a money personality that’s opposite to yours, that’s OK. “Marrying our opposite is what makes the relationship interesting, dynamic and complete,” say the Palmers. It could actually be beneficial to you both. “For example, if one is a Saver/Security Seeker and the other is a Spender/Risk Taker then this couple can talk through decisions with a 360-degree perspective and come up with an answer that is best for all.”
Why we fight about money
Arguments about money can happen at any time, at any level of a relationship — and they’re never fun. But why do they happen? “Money is a very personal thing, so when we question each other’s money approach, we hit a nerve that goes very deep,” The Money Couple explain. “If you and your partner are struggling with money issues, if you’re constantly fighting about your finances, if you just can’t seem to get on the same page financially, the problem isn’t your budget. The problem is that your money relationship is broken,” they note. And the best financial plan won’t change a thing. The solution to your money problems isn’t a better budget or less debt. It’s to reclaim your money relationship.
Getting in sync financially
Balancing your budget and making sure you have enough money for essentials each month is one thing, but The Money Couple also recommend having a “Financial Arrangement” and a “Money Relationship.”
Financial Arrangement: This encompasses all of the topics you discuss with your spouse around finances, such as debt reduction, retirement planning, investment planning, insurance planning, tax planning, etc.
Money Relationship: This refers to the day-to-day discussions you have where money is involved — things like deciding whether to make coffee at home or indulge in a $5 cup of Starbucks, whether to buy the kids’ school supplies at Target or Walmart, or deciding to get shoes at Bloomingdale’s versus Payless.
Financial Arrangements can be more black and white whereas a Money Relationship moves and changes daily. “As you navigate your discussions with your partner this week, notice how often you make decisions together and analyze how well you discuss the money component of those decisions,” the Palmers advise. The more you communicate and work together to fine-tune your financial life together, the less you’ll argue about money.
More relationship tips
Power struggles: Why being right can make everything wrong
The secret to a happy relationship: Be selfish
Is it time to end your relationship?