Does it ever feel like money causes a tug-of-war in your marriage? You only have so much “extra” money in your budget after the bills are paid, but when you each have different ideas on how that money should be spent, who wins?
Generally that battle is caused by two different money personalities working against each other. The most common money personality mix I see is the spender/saver couple. One person wants to focus on enjoying that leftover money and the other wants to squirrel that money away for the future. I’ve seen the saver clip their spender’s wings, reminding them that the best way to live well financially is to save every extra penny. While this choice can certainly benefit the couple in the future, it will often leave the spender feeling resentful and guilty for even considering spending money. I’ve also seen the spender grab the reins, saying “This is my hard-earned money, and I deserve to be able to spend it how I’d like to.” They hush the voice of the saver, leaving their partner feeling resentful and unable to enjoy the ways that money is being spent. It’s a constant battle until someone just gives in.
Want to stop the tug-of-war? Start by getting to know yourself, and your partner. That allows you to advocate for your mindset with integrity as well as to value what your partner is bringing to the table. Then, find ways to bring the two personalities together to create a beautiful money blend that highlights both of your strengths and has an eye for the blind spots.
Sound a little pie-in-the-sky? I’ve seen it happen. It’s pretty magical … almost like finding your money superpower as a couple. Here’s the process:
1. Discover Your Money Strength: Begin by taking a closer look at your own money personality, and name what you bring to the table. Taking a look back at the spender/saver couple: The spender may know how to stay anchored in the present and enjoy their money today, while the saver might be able to make future needs feel just as urgent (if not more urgent) than today’s.
Tip: Think back over the course of your relationship. When have your strengths been a gift for each of you? For instance, my husband, who’s naturally more of a spender, might recall the many fun dates he’s taken me on.
2. Get to Know Your Money Blind Spot: Where might you have gaps in your financial vision? For the spender/saver couple, a saver can be so frugal that they forget to enjoy themselves today. A spender can be so eager to spend today that they put future goals in jeopardy. Remember: This isn’t a weakness, it’s a blind spot. Becoming aware of it, and finding people in your life who can help you see those spots more clearly, can help you live a more balanced financial life.
Tip: When has that blind spot been a stumbling block? Think of some concrete examples. As a giver, it’s easy for me to say “yes” to helping others without thinking twice of how that might impact me or my family. I’ve learned the hard way that I need to take a step back (and even check in with my husband) before I say “yes” to another opportunity.
3. Understand Your Partner’s Personality: Bring those strength and blind spot examples to a conversation with your spouse. Take turns sharing what you discovered. As your partner talks, first listen to their examples and enjoy the trip down memory lane. Then ask questions to confirm you understand what they are saying. Affirm them by adding your own examples of how you have seen their superpower at work. Stay away from adding examples and detail to their blind spot; instead, commit to helping them address their blind spot as it comes up in the future.
Tip: As you talk, be conscious that you and your partner bring different things to the table. Lean in to your commonalities, even if you naturally take different approaches to get there. For instance, the spender and saver both hold their family’s best interest close at heart — they want to use their money to live their best life. It’s just that the spender is focused on making that happen today, whereas the saver is focused on ensuring that possibility for the future.
4. Unearth Your Couple Superpower: This is where the real fun happens! Create a sort of Venn diagram to see where your strengths overlap and where you come together to make something greater – your superpower. For instance, a spender and a saver can ensure their family is living their best life both today and tomorrow.
Tip: Need help determining your superpower? I’ll be walking through each of the money personality pairings on this week’s live on Instagram and Facebook this Thursday, May 23, at 8pm Central and offering some fun superpower suggestions.
5. Do a Gap Analysis: Not to be a Debbie Downer, but it’s also important to figure out where you have gaps. If you have different money personalities, more than likely you are filling some of each other’s gaps … but are there places where you are both blind? For example, a spender/saver couple might have gaps when it comes to giving and acquiring. Take a moment to consider how your secondary money personality might help you to fill in your gaps.
Tip: If you and your partner have the same primary money personality, you may be in danger of having an even bigger blind spot as a couple. Dig in to your secondary money personalities — you may need to bring those to the table in a bigger way. Also, find people in your life who have strengths you’re missing. Take them out to coffee to get a better sense of how they tick. Find helpful ways to bring that voice to the table during your money conversation. You might stop to ask yourselves, “What would a giver say in this situation?”
Remember, this isn’t Batman and Robin — there are no sidekicks! You both have money strengths and you both have money blind spots. By combining your powers for good, you can live a more whole and balanced money life.
What’s your money superpower? Share it below!