Spenders vs Savers – What it Means for Your Marriage
Yin and yang. Introvert and extrovert. Spender and saver. They say opposites attract, right? As exciting as that can be, what happens in a marriage when one spouse is a spender and the other a saver?
First, let’s establish some ground rules for this article. If you’re a saver, just looking at the title of this piece probably made you gleeful, thinking I’m about to slam your spouse for his or her spending habits. If you’re a spender, well, you’re probably not reading this because you stopped at the title. But trust me – you will regret not reading further.
Regardless of which category you’re predestined to fall into, I encourage you to share this article with your significant other, and hopefully you can have an open, honest and non-judgmental discussion about your finances. Wait, does that ever really happen?
Jokes aside, I learned long ago never to tell clients that I’ve been in this business long enough to have seen it all. Over the years the definition of having seen it all keeps changing! But when it comes to spenders and savers, both camps tend to jump into judging the other, using such labels as penny-pincher, tightwad or control freak for the savers, and spendthrift, hemorrhager of money or compulsive shopper for the spenders. But let’s face it – name-calling rarely gets anyone anywhere.
I do know that, regardless of how you approach spending vs. saving, each of us feels deeply and strongly about our opinions when it comes to how we use our money.
What we like to discuss with clients who are just getting married or merging households is that, eventually, all the money you make will be spent. Whether by you or your beneficiaries, it all disappears at the end. I’ve yet to meet a single person who could prove to me that they were able to take it with them.
I’m always amazed by the number of people I meet outside the office – regular, everyday people – who, when asked what they’re saving for, what vacation they’re looking forward to or how much longer they plan to keep working, don’t have an answer to any of these questions. What concerns me is that many of these folks are making a good living and leading a comfortable lifestyle, but have never put their financial goals down on paper. I have found in my own life that committing words to paper can have a very positive effect on holding yourself accountable for what you really want in the midst of the constant barrage of ads in our society all aimed at taking your hard earned money away from you. Writing down your goals helps you focus on what really matters, and keeps you from being distracted by all the shiny things around you.
At the end of the day, money is a tool that allows you the freedom to finance your goals and dreams. For some people, that may be financing their freedom. For others, it may be designer clothes and luxury cars. And hey – as a financial planner, I will never judge you for shopping. I like my Versace sunglasses, nice watch and good shoes too. Just pay cash!
So, I’m not saying that you spenders need to stop enjoying the things you buy or that savers need to suddenly start shopping. But regardless of your shopping or saving habits, you do need to identify common ground within your marriage on your preferred financial future as a couple. This encompasses where you’ll live, what kind of cars you’ll drive, how long you’ll keep working, how much to spend on birthday and Christmas presents for friends and family, and what your ideal vacation looks like.
When creating a financial roadmap for your marriage, remember that not everything will go according to plan. But having a plan will allow for clarity in your day-to-day journey as a couple.