It’s tax season! You know, the time of year when couples argue about finances a little more than usual. This time of year often brings out the differences in partners concerning the way they handle money, the meaning they attribute to it, and the balance of spending versus saving.
Below, I’ve divided people into five different categories concerning their relationship with money. What type are you? What type is your partner? When you sit down and talk about your basic differences in how you value money, you may emerge with a better understanding of where your partner is coming from when he or she buys a $300 pair of shoes, splurges on a big-screen TV, or would rather dig through the cupboards than go out for a fancy dinner. It will also help prevent arguments.
Where do you and your partner fit in?
Type 1: Security Seeker
- I seem to go out of my way to spend less, even if it’s a small amount of money or it’s inconvenient.
- Even if I can afford it, I tend not to spend money on things that will make my life easier.
- I will buy the thing on sale rather than buying what I really want or the brand I prefer.
- I save a little each month.
- I almost never buy something on credit.
Type 2: Spontaneous
- If I receive a lump of money, such as a tax refund or a generous gift, I think of it as “free money” and splurge on something I have been wanting.
- Sometimes I regret purchases I’ve made.
- It’s hard to go shopping and not buy anything.
- I find that I buy a lot of things I don’t use or don’t need.
- When I feel upset, shopping makes me feel better.
Type 3: Free Spirit
- I often pay late fees because I don’t pay bills on time.
- I have no idea how much money I spend in a given month.
- I don’t have or stick to a budget.
- I would rather someone else pay the bills and take care of money decisions.
- I believe that things will work out, so I don’t worry much about money.
Type 4: Status-Minded
- I like looking up-to-date, so I spend money accordingly.
- I am willing to pay more for brand-name items.
- I feel like most people have more money than I do.
- I like to pay the check when we go out and feel like people would not like me if I were not generous.
- I like to give and receive gifts.
Type 5: Selfless
- I want to give up things I have or want so that I can give more to others.
- I live modestly and think others should do the same.
- I like to buy and have items that are useful and functional.
- I support charitable organizations.
- I don’t tend to befriend people with extravagant lifestyles.
Once you have identified your dominant money categories, think about why you might feel like this. What about your childhood shaped these values? Were you doted on as a child? Did your family struggle financially? Did your parents go through a nasty divorce? What significant life events influenced you? Did you have to work hard to pay your way through school? Did you run up a lot of credit card debt and have to dig your way out of it?
Talk to your partner about your values and what they mean. Talk about your insecurities and anxieties about money. This process will help you to have compassion and understanding for your partner and will likely prevent or mitigate some of the financial distress in your relationship.
If you need some guidance in addressing fundamental disagreements about approaches to money, contact a therapist.
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