Each week we ask a question to help you focus on an area of your finances that might need a closer look. This week: How can I balance love and money?
Let’s open a can of worms, shall we? Because if there’s one topic that is guaranteed to make us squirm, it’s love and money.
There are a myriad of reasons for the squirm:
- Most of us don’t like to talk about money at the best of times (except me, I clearly love talking about money)
- Add romance into the picture and we definitely don’t like talking about it.
- That’s because it feels tacky to add money into the love mix.
- We’d all rather think that love conquers all; even long arms and deep pockets.
Enough with all of that. Love and money need to be discussed because money issues are a leading cause of marital problems and ultimately divorce. In fact, research shows that 22 per cent of the time, a split is due to money.
So, yeah, finding the love and money balance is super important.
Take care of yourself first
I’m going to say upfront that if you suspect that your partner is using money to coerce or control you, seek help immediately. Financial abuse is domestic violence.
Financial abuse describes a situation when someone you’re in a relationship with is stopping you from accessing your money, negatively influencing your decisions about money or using your money without your consent.
You can read more about the signs of financial abuse here.
Spenders and savers
Okay, so let’s assume the relationship you are in is healthy about financial matters, but still unbalanced.
The biggest trouble is dismissing the impact that being a saver or a spender can have on a relationship. If you’re married to your financial opposite, you need to start with full disclosure about your attitude to money.
First, you need to work out whether you and your partner are spenders or savers. In general, researchers found that 16 per cent of people have difficulty controlling spending (‘spendthrifts’) and 24 per cent of people have difficulty spending money (what the researchers disappointingly called a ‘tightwad’). Most of us – 60 per cent – fall somewhere in the middle, but you will have a tendency towards one or the other, so go with that.
- Money focus: How can I stop impulse buying?
- Money focus: How often do you stick to your budget?
- Money focus: How can I get out of debt?
Both good and bad
The saver reckons the spender is the reason they can never save any money and ‘get ahead’. On the other hand, the spender reckons the saver doesn’t know how to have fun. Cue massive relationship friction.
What you have here is an inability to recognise that both types of money attitude have both good and bad points. It’s one of the reasons why being matched with your opposite is actually a really good thing. After all, the good life falls somewhere in between spending and saving.
- How your vision of your future self impacts your finances
- Future You wants you to save more
- Build some mad money into your budget next year
Playing to your strengths
It’s clear that savers and spenders have a lot to learn from each other. So, play to your strengths.
That means a budget and a formula for how you’ll spend your money. You know, like the spender wanting to agree how much you can spend without having to consult the other, and the saver wanting to agree the amount you’ll skim off your pay cheques to invest each month. That kind of thing:
- Try focusing on good money habits instead of financial goals
- Do you have a five-year financial plan?
- The simplest way to stick to a budget for people who hate budgets
- It’s definitely time to get your financial SHIT together
Give and take
Like everything in a good relationship, the most important thing is to put the other person first from time to time. So that means spenders will say no to a purchase because they know their partner would rather save the money. For savers that means giving their partner a bit of cash to splash just because it makes them happy.
It might also mean that someone determined to FIRE needs to make very sure that their partner is also up for that. Saving loads of money quickly requires a dedication to both saving and earning that can really wreck havoc on relationships. There is only so much time in a day.
Just keep talking and opening that can of worms. Eventually, the whole thing becomes far less squirmy and you find you really enjoy the love and money balance. After all, you’re definitely happier and, hopefully, financially stronger.
Find the rest of our Money Focus series here.