How financially compatible are you and your spouse?
Posted December 6, 2016
There are many different types of compatibility, and some matter more than others if you are looking for a long and happy marriage. Financial compatibility is important, simply because managing money is an issue all couples have to deal with. Contrary to popular belief, however, money probably isn’t the number one cause of divorce.
Being financial compatible can certainly make your marriage easier, but having different attitudes and approaches to money doesn’t mean you and your spouse can’t reach a compromise.
Here's just how to start predicting (and managing) any sort of financial incompatibility from early on in your relationship:
Read the signs
It’s not hard to spot the spending style of someone you’re dating. Rolex or Timex? Sports car or compact? Denny’s or The Ritz? Paying attention to how your spouse saves or spends is step one to figuring out financial compatibility.
Differences don’t always equal incompatibility
If you both have very different spending styles, you’ll have to work harder to reach a compromise, but that’s not always a bad thing. Two spenders can find there’s always too much month at the end of their money. Whereas two savers may never have a little fun. A spender and a saver can balance each other and find the middle ground, but it will take some effort.
Knowing your money personality (and that of your spouse) is so helpful. It can help you 'get on the same page' about your finances and work towards a more balanced attitude about money management.
Remember that money arguments aren’t always about money
Money can be a highly sensitive topic, because money represents a lot of other things.
Some arguments about money are really about trust, values or responsibility. Watching every penny your wife spends can make her feel you don’t trust her. Spending a lot on trivial things for yourself can send the message you’re not committed to saving for a joint future.
According to money management website Bankrate, sharing goals and understanding each other's perspective is a key part of managing finances as a couple, which makes the next point so crucial.
With your parter, talk about how you feel about money and finances. Your attitude probably is a combination of natural tendencies, how you were raised and your previous experiences with money.
It’s easier to deal with differences when you understand them. Maybe your wife is a spender because she watched a controlling father restrict her mother’s spending, and now takes pride in being independent and able to afford to treat herself. Maybe your husband saves obsessively because his family was once evicted from their home and he genuinely fears not having a rainy day fund to fall back on.
Draw up a detailed, practical plan
‘We will be tolerant of each other's differences’ isn’t a plan. It’s great if you can come to this kind of general agreement, but if you have vastly different spending styles, you may need something more detailed and practical.
It could be deciding on a set amount you’ll both save (in a joint savings account) each month, before doing anything else with your money. If the saver wants to save more, or the spender wants to spend the rest, that’s OK.
It could also involve drawing up a detailed plan or vision for your long-term future (estimate how much money you'll need to get there) then working towards your goals together. Saving is more fun when you know exactly what you're saving for.
Accept that some conflict is inevitable
It is normal for couples to argue over finances. Even if you do have similar spending styles, you won’t always agree on how to divide your finances. Discussions and disagreements about money are a normal part of marriage, and as with everything else, you’ll learn to resolve conflict and compromise. That’s what successful couples do.
Finding a way you both can be happier with your own spending habits (and your spouse's) isn't always an easy process, but it will be worth it in the end.
Karen Banes is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, lifestyle and entrepreneurship. Contact her at her website http://www.karenbanes.com/.or via Twitter where she tweets as @KarenBanes.