We all have different priorities when it comes to money. Maybe you’re a saver, and your partner is a spender.
Our Money & Relationships content series looks at how you can approach conversations about money. This guide explores what to do if you and your partner are money opposites…
About different spending styles
In its most basic form, there are two main financial personalities: spenders and savers. Most of us will sit somewhere between the two.
A spender likes to make purchases. Often, spenders will prioritise buying the things they want or need as soon as possible. This invariably leads to them spending what they earn rather than worrying too much about saving.
A saver likes to plan ahead. They’re happy to forgo instant gratification to build up their funds for the future.
There is no right or wrong money personality. Our attitudes to money are often determined by our upbringing. It’s not something we can easily change. However, we can try to understand the other viewpoint, which can help to make sure both parties feel equally content with their financial situation.
How to make changes to your spending style
Finding ways to make some positive changes to your lifestyle can be beneficial, particularly if your partner has different money values.
Savers: Find a balance
You’ll still be able to put money aside and enjoy the occasional luxury – so don’t feel too guilty about treating yourself from time to time, particularly if you’ve already met your savings goals. This is especially important if you tend to miss out on hobbies or social activities because your instinct is to put every penny away. If you have disposable income leftover at the end of every month, why not spend just some of your hard-earned cash on something you’ll really enjoy now?
Spenders: Think about the long-term
While the latest trend might give you instant gratification, a great way to curb your spending habits is to think about those long-term gains. If you delay a purchase now, you could save up for something even more special in the future, such as a holiday or a new car. Try limit your spending to things that will bring you long-term happiness rather than a quick buzz of excitement. Ask yourself how the purchase might make you feel in a week or a month – if you’ll feel indifferent about it, it’s probably not worth buying.
For both spending personalities, it’s a good idea to track your spending. Once you know how much money you have coming in and where it’s going every month, you can start to identify patterns in your spending habits. This can help you notice little (and substantial) changes you can make to your money management.
What to do if your money values are different?
If you and your partner have different spending styles, here are some tips to help you discuss how you handle your money.
Talk about your money mindset
Understanding why someone feels a certain way about money can help you empathise with them and find a compromise. Our spending habits are usually influenced by our upbringing. Having an open and honest conversation with your partner about their attitudes to money and how this might relate to their childhood could give you a better understanding of why they feel the way they do about money.
For example, a saver might feel money represents security whereas someone who wasn’t ever taught to save might find putting a set amount of money aside too restricting. It’ll be a lot easier to find a middle ground if you have a grasp of why your partner handles money a certain way.
Create a list of non-negotiables
If you have vastly different financial personalities, you’ll have to reach a compromise on a few different areas. But it’s up to you what your non-negotiables are.
For example, paying your bills on time, setting aside some money each month or having a ‘fun fund’ which can be spent more spontaneously could be agreed between you. This will help to set expectations on how you’ll manage your money as a couple.
It could also be a good idea to work out some shared goals – this helps you to find a common ground. You could be saving up for a fabulous holiday together or even setting money aside for a house deposit. Thinking about your future can help you both stay focused.
Discuss how you’re going to manage your finances in the future
If you're in a serious relationship, you may be ready to talk about how you're going to manage your finances as a couple. You may wish to open a joint account for shared purchases only, pay everything separately from your individual accounts or pool all of your money together and have just one joint account.
How you organise your finances will largely depend on your financial personalities and how much you value your financial independence.
Decide what areas of your finances are ‘yours’ or ‘ours’
One partner may be entering into the relationship with personal debt. It’s up to you whether that debt is taken on as a couple, or whether each partner handles their own debt individually. Either way, it’s important to have a frank and open discussion about how you would both prefer to handle any past debt.
Another area to consider is your savings. If one of you is a natural saver, but the other prefers to spend what they earn, it’s worth considering how you tackle the situation as a team. Could you come to a mutual ‘savings’ agreement, in which you both put in an equal amount into joint savings? Or would you both prefer for any savings to be kept separate?
It’s very easy for one partner to look after all your finances simply because they have strong financial literacy. However, keeping the other partner in the loop could be a great way to strengthen their own knowledge and boost their interest in money management.
Perhaps set aside some time each month to talk about your finances, from upcoming renewals to any unexpected expenses. This could help you both to feel more empowered.
Set a budget and track your finances
Having a chat about how you want to handle your money as a couple is a great first step. But without keeping an eye on how your money is being spent each month, you’ll have no way to know how to improve on certain areas.
Track your income and expenses and make note of where you’re spending most of your disposable income. This can help you to see where you might be spending a bit too frivolously, so you can work together to make some changes.
Ask for third-party support
Not everyone is comfortable talking about money. You may struggle to reach a compromise on how you want to manage your finances as a couple. It could be beneficial to speak with a financial therapist or financial advisor, depending on the issues you’re facing.
The presence of an impartial third party might help you both feel more at ease discussing your finances. Professionals have a wealth of experience and knowledge to impart, too, giving you practical next steps on how to resolve financial disagreements.
Sophie Venner is a Yorkshire-based content writer specialising in crafting content for the financial services industry. She’s written over 300 articles on finance, but she’s covered everything from insurance to digital marketing trends. Her content has been featured in the likes of Semrush, Digital Marketing Magazine and Insurance Business. In her spare time, you won’t find Sophie far from a notepad and pen as she squirrels away trying to write a novel.
Monday 12th June 2023