If you’ve ever had a fight with your spouse or partner about money, you’re certainly not alone. I’m sure you know that the majority of divorces and breakups are the result of conflicts about money.

What happy couples know is that there’s a right way and a wrong way to communicate about money. Even if you don’t see eye-to-eye about everything in your financial life as a couple, there is a way to find middle ground.

Advice from Money and Relationship Experts

I recently interviewed Bethany and Scott Palmer, 2 money and relationship experts and authors to find out more about specific techniques they recommend for their clients. We had a frank discussion about how couples with different “money personalities” can make it, even though they may be complete opposites when it comes to every aspect of their personal finances.

What are the Money Personalities?

There are 5 basic money personalities and each one of us usually has 2 of them—a primary and a secondary. Of course, there’s a classic Saver and Spender. But the Palmers also define a Security-Seeker, a Risk-Taker, and a Flyer. The names pretty much say it all, but let me explain the Flyer. A Flyer is someone who flies by the seat of their pants when it comes to money because they don’t like thinking about money or making financial plans at all. They might be a creative person who just doesn’t have any interest in or emotional attachment to money.

How to Blend Your Money Personalities

You can learn more about the 5 money personalities in my audio interview. But what really interested me was the fact that most couples have different money personalities. If opposites attract, how in the world do couples blend their money personalities so they don’t fight and bicker about money on a daily basis?

When money personalities collide, the best way to cope is to realize that we’re all different and that there’s no right or wrong money personality. If you’re a Saver, you might not understand exactly how a Spender or a Risk-Taker thinks, but you have to respect their psychology and know that it’s valid.

How Should Couples Talk About Money?

The key to working through any financial conflict is to get it out in the open. Take a hard look at how you talk about money. If you’re honest and transparent about your financial ideas and actions, you can build a fantastic relationship with that information. But if you procrastinate financial decisions, sweep the topic of money under the rug, or refuse to be honest, your relationship is in deep trouble.

The Best Way Couples Can Communicate About Finances

Here are tips from the Palmers’ book, First Comes Love, Then Comes Money, about how couples with common money personalities that clash can take their financial communication to the next level:

Combination #1: Spender and Saver

Since Spenders and Savers are so different, communication is essential for survival as a happy couple. Each person must be empowered to articulate their needs clearly. They also have to view their relationship as a true partnership; otherwise each person will feel emotionally isolated and misunderstood.

Many times the Saver is in charge of the family finances, and the Spender has no idea how much money is coming in or going out. When the Saver includes the Spender in financial decisions and they work on financial tasks (like budgeting) together, a Spender is more likely to understand why their spending may jeopardize their financial goals.

Combination #2: Spender and Security-Seeker

A Spender typically lives in the moment and a Security-Seeker thinks about the future. For these polar opposites to be happy, they have to compromise on how money is spent. The Security-Seeker has a fear that they’ll end up destitute if they’re not financially prepared for the unknown. But if a Spender trivializes that fear, they risk exacerbating a Security-Seeker’s anxiety, which can cause fights.

A Spender can calm a Security-Seeker by sticking to a budget and being completely transparent about their spending needs. The Security-Seeker can make peace with a Spender by giving him or her freedom to spend within preset limits and not being too controlling.

Combination #3: Saver and Risk-Taker

A Saver doesn’t like to part with money but a Risk-Taker is impulsive and willing to swing for the financial fences. Each one is frightened by their partner’s psychology around money, which can make the relationship very complicated. The Saver worries that their money will disappear at the hands of the Risk-Taker and can get resentful about it. The Risk-Taker worries that the Saver doesn’t believe in their ideas or wants to kill their dreams and may make big financial decisions in secret.

A Saver and a Risk-Taker must agree to have open communication and make financial decisions together. A Saver needs to give a Risk-Taker some breathing room by letting them risk some of their income. But a Risk-Taker has to respect the wishes of a Saver to keep a healthy financial safety net just in case their ventures don’t pan out.

Stop Fighting About Money for Good

When you understand how you and your partner think about and are motivated by money, you can start a healthy dialog about it. The next step is to change the patterns in your relationship that are causing tension so you can stop fighting about money for good.

For more advice about how to effectively communicate with your partner about money, be sure to listen to my interview with 2 money and relationship experts.


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Comments | 3 Responses

  1. says

    I really wish I would have read this article before I got married. My ex-husband and I never talked about finances ahead of time, and we definitely didn’t fight fair once the differences started becoming apparent. Money wasn’t the reason for our divorce, but our inability to talk about it was just one example of the communication breakdown that made us feel it wasn’t worth it to try.

    • says

      @ Andrea

      Totally understand. Money and couples is a very delicate subject; even in our own household. We’ve always been very open about it but my wife and I have our own comfort zones. While we disagreed on the topic on several occasions, we’re always able to work through it because the line of communication is open.

      I see many couples that don’t openly talk about money and I think they’re just setting themselves up for failure.

  2. says

    Using money personalities is a fresh and easy to understand way of discussing this topic. Couples at every stage of their relationship would be wise to read this article.

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