Are You Financially Compatible with Your Significant Other?

Couple at home on laptop computerIt’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.

© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Mieke Rivka Sidorsky, LCSW-C, CST, therapist in Silver Spring, Maryland

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • 5 comments
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  • gerard

    gerard

    March 30th, 2015 at 11:30 AM

    Ugh I have been with the status seeker before
    and it ruined us because everything that we brought in she was spending before the money could even hit the bank good

  • Shelley

    Shelley

    March 30th, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    My husband and I are NEVER on the same page when it comes to money and how we spend. I don’t want this to be what ends us, but I always have this little fear in the back of my mind that it will be.

  • Maranda W

    Maranda W

    March 30th, 2015 at 3:51 PM

    What we believed about money and how to spend it was one of the very first serious conversations that we had when we first started dating. I have seen too many relationships fail because they come to the realization too late that they are not suited for each other mainly because of how they feel about money issues and how those have to be resolved. I think that if you have trouble talking to someone about all things financial then you may as well forget it. It isn’t going to last.

  • bryan

    bryan

    March 31st, 2015 at 10:47 AM

    The only way that I think that it could work when you are financially different is when you have enough money that it doesn’t really matter.

    But if you are like most households and have to live on a budget than it can be very difficult if the two of you just can’t find away to see eye to eye on the money matters.

  • Tyson

    Tyson

    April 3rd, 2015 at 11:42 AM

    I guess that my partner and I are both selfless to a fault, in that we pretty much give away everything that we earn (not a lot!) because that is what feels right to us. To us it is not about having the most but about giving the most back that we can. I suppose that it’s good that we found each other because I am not too sure that there would be anyone else out there for me who would accept living paycheck to paycheck like we do, but it’s what feels right for us.

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