Spenders Vs Savers: 5 Ways To Avoid Fighting About Money

Woman coming home with shopping bags
Self

This article is adapted from Generation Earn: The Young Professional's Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back.

If you feel like you're dating your financial opposite, you're probably right. It turns out we gravitate towards romantic partners with conflicting money attitudes to help balance our own tendencies. That means savers seek spenders, and vice versa. "If you pick a person who gives you the most trouble, it will challenge you in the areas you need help with," explains New York–based relationship therapist Bonnie Eaker Weil. The end result might be good for our bank accounts, but bad for our love lives. The key to satisfaction in both areas? Harness the energy from that conflict without letting it blow up. 7 Can't-Ignore Signs A Man Only Loves You For Your Money

Here are five ways to do just that:

1) Talk about money before sharing a roof. Should the higher earner contribute more to joint expenses, such as utility bills? Or do you prefer an even split? How much credit card debt do you each have? Does either person have any money secrets lurking in their credit history, such as a bankruptcy or unpaid loan? Do you know how each person would respond to a request for money from a family member or friend? A needy relative can end up putting a lot of stress on a couple, especially if one person is blindsided by the situation.

2) Keep separate bank accounts. It might sound strange to traditionalists, but for many modern couples, it's the only option that makes sense. When Pasha Carroll, 30, and her boyfriend, Matthew Krise, 31, first moved in together after dating for a year, they decided to continue keeping separate bank accounts. They split joint expenses like rent and groceries evenly. "We never have to squabble or ask each other for money," Pasha says. Their system clearly works: They recently got married, while continuing to maintain separate accounts.

Kellie and Dan Mercurio, thirtysomethings with a toddler, decided on a similar approach: Ever since they got married, they've kept separate accounts, largely because they each appreciate the independence it allows. (Kellie didn't want to feel like she had to 'ask permission' each time she got her nails done.) "For someone who is somewhat of a control freak, it's hard to say, 'Okay, let's have everything coming out of one account,'" says Dan, who works in financial sales in the Boston area. Dan and Kellie say it also helps them stay organized and keep track of how money is being spent. "We're probably polar opposites in the way that we track and register money. I'm paper-based, and he just has a general understanding of how much is in the account. It drives me crazy. It was easier for us to do it this way than to keep track of little daily items," says Kellie. Secretly Spending? Know This. [VIDEO]

3) Develop joint-savings goals. Do you want to put extra cash towards travel dreams, a house down payment, or maybe a future baby fund? Schedule a talk about these big, emotional issues in a neutral location, like a coffee shop, to keep the discussion as calm as possible. If you disagree, it doesn't mean you can't be together, but you might need to make some compromises. Perhaps you can backpack through Thailand this year, and then save more for that future house the following year. Keep both the saver and the spender happy.

4) Kiss more. It's a pretty easy solution, and good for your relationship, too. According to research by Weil, author of Financial Infidelity, people often make purchases after fighting with their partners. She dubs these "POP" ("pissed-off purchases") shots. She says the average POP shot is almost $500 and people tend to make them three to four times a year. That means that some people are blowing $2,000 a year because of relationship tension. Her solution is simple: kiss. Because kissing provides a similar dopamine high to the one shopping provides, she says it can replace those splurges at the mall.

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5) Split money management responsibilities. Everyone should know where their money is, which is why it doesn't make sense for one person to be the money taskmaster, from bill-paying to investing to budgeting. Research suggests that couples are most financially successful when they split duties, which protects each person in case of a break-up, and also lets each person contribute their perspective and expertise to decisions. Love, Money & Commitment: The Life Of An Un-Wife

Even if you love your partner more than his money habits, you're stuck with both. If he overspends, pays bills late, and racks up debt, his financial troubles will impact your own life, from how much you can spend on a house to what vacation you can afford to what interest rate you can get on car loan. So if you're not happy with your money match, sit down and figure out what you can do differently. Your bank account, and your love life, will eventually thank you.

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