By contributing writer Laura
You’ve heard it said that opposites attract, and this is true of many married couples I know. Among those opposite pairings, I’ve seen many married couples that include a spender and a saver.
Maybe he loves eating out all the time and buying all the latest tech gadgets, but she loves to clip coupons, search thrift stores for second hand treasures, and nabbing the best deals. He loves things that are shiny and new and doesn’t think twice before buying a “good investment” product at full price and bringing it home to surprise his spouse. She shudders at the thought of dropping hundreds of dollars on a new fancy purse when she can wait and find it at the outlet store, on eBay, at a consignment store, or just buy a knock-off brand at Target.
Does this sound familiar? Fights over money are reportedly the leading cause of divorce in America.* Studies have revealed that it takes a couple longer to recover from a fight about finances than any other fight.
So what can you do to ensure better communication and strengthen your marriage when it comes to money issues? Here are some tips for all of you savers with a spender spouse.
Please note, I realize that the woman is not always the saver in a relationship and can often be the spender. But for the sake of this blog post, I’ll be referring to the spender as a he and the saver as a she, since I’m sharing from my own experience as a saver wife married to a spender husband.
Share Your Goals
Having your spouse on the same page when it comes to finances can help a spender & saver marriage not just survive but thrive. The saver may feel like she’s constantly battling the spender and is a broken record with phrases like “you bought what?” “Why didn’t you run that purchase by me first?” and “How much did you actually spend?”
Sitting down and setting a budget and long term goals together, as well as establishing the reasons why you want to save up — whether to pay off debt, save for a big family vacation, save for your child’s college fund, or build up a nest egg — it can put you both on the same team. This can also help you establish a game plan for what types of purchases you would like to discuss as a couple before the spender decides to make an impulsive buy.
Be Willing To Compromise
Your frugality and tendency to save may be something ingrained in your personality, whether from how you were raised or lessons you’ve learned through life, but that doesn’t mean your spouse thinks the same as you. Be willing to compromise and find middle ground on financial decisions that don’t make you bankrupt.
Also, be willing to accept feedback from your spouse and see things from his perspective. Look at your own saver mentality and ways you may be a stickler on issues that aren’t worth fighting over, such as abandoning all non-essential purchases, never eating out at restaurants, getting rid of all paper products in your home, and other issues that may seem intolerable to your spouse.
Verbalize What Bothers You
Resentment can start to build up if you don’t voice your concerns. Each time he spends or makes big financial decisions without talking about it with you can feel like a wound that keeps getting salt thrown on it. If something is bothering you regarding the way your spouse spends or the process in which big purchases for your household are made, don’t keep it bottled up.
It’s always better to open the line of communication, as often times a spender spouse sees what they’re doing as helpful and taking initiative, rather than hurtful.
When you voice concerns, be sure to do so in a loving way. Choose to love your spouse for who he is, flaws and all. Focus on all the wonderful qualities that first made you fall in love with your spouse and aim to communicate with him in a way that does not belittle his financial skills but that seeks to bring restoration to your marriage and your financial state. Focus on grace and be mindful of all the grace others have shown you in your life.
Are you in a spender/saver relationship? What are your own tips for making marriage between such polar opposites work?
Dew, Jeffrey, Sonya Britt, and Sandra Huston. 2012. Examining The Relationship Between Financial Issues And Divorce. Family Relations Volume 61, Issue 4, pages 615–628.
Washburn, Carolyn, and Darlene Christensen. 2008. Financial harmony: A key component of successful marriage relationship. The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues, 13 (1).
Andersen, Jan D. 2001. Financial Problems As Predictors Of Divorce: A Social Exchange Perspective. Family and Consumer Sciences Department California State University, Sacramento.