7/15/2013 9:45 PM ET|
Saver vs. spender: Happily ever after
When it comes to spending and saving money it's hard to find two people who agree on everything -- even if they've said 'I do.'
When you discuss finances with your partner, do you feel as though you're talking from opposite sides of a stadium? If so, you're far from alone.
Everyone who's ever squirmed through a money conversation with a loved one knows that differing opinions can be challenging -- at best. In fact, according to a nationwide survey conducted by LearnVest and TD Ameritrade (.pdf file), money is one of the top marital stressors.
As sensitive as financial issues can be, they can also build trust. The survey found that at least 60% of married people trust their partners to manage their finances—a number that rises to 70% among couples in their 60s and up.
Financial awareness grows alongside trust, but more dramatically. The survey also showed that just a quarter of couples aged 18-35 has a clear picture of each other's income and debt, but 60% of Baby Boomers clearly understand their financial footing.
So how can you and your spouse make opposite money perspectives a source of strength rather than friction? For one, communication is crucial. Even when you trust your spouse's financial management, be sure to have candid, regular discussions about money matters.
To show how it can be done, three couples at different points in their lives divulge how they deal with opposite approaches to money -- and how these differences can even bring partners closer.
Colby and Nick Peters, Annapolis, Md.
Colby and Nick, both in their early 30s, have been married for three years. Despite Nick's conservative financial outlook and Colby's carefree spending, they've managed to reach a happy medium. "Our financial personalities have changed to meet in the middle," Colby says.
Each month, the couple reviews their accounts and upcoming expenses. Nick also checks his bank balances once a week, and he gets anxious if he dips into his savings. "Colby reassures me that everything is fine, and she's right," he explains. "Allowing for the occasional splurge isn't the end of the world."
Nick cites his first credit card as an indelible lesson: It had a $1,500 limit—a purposefully low amount that helped him avoid overspending. And he has kept that limit ever since. When Colby met Nick, she carried about $10,000 in credit-card debt, but she steadily paid it off. She also adopted a similarly low credit-limit plan, which curbed her impulse spending on clothes and restaurants.
So far, they've kept separate accounts -- but with a baby on the way, they may combine them. They're confident that, with open discussion and emotional support, they can weather the larger financial decisions that lie ahead. "I am very honest about my finances, regardless of any embarrassment I might feel, because I value being truthful with Nick," Colby says.
Janice and Jason Christensen, Chicago
During 17 years of marriage, Janice and Jason discovered the importance of collaborative financial decision-making, especially while living on a single salary.
For a decade, Janice stayed home to raise their three children, and she struggled with feelings of guilt and powerlessness because she didn't have her own income. She was used to spending freely on gifts and clothes, so she needed to rein in her budget, while her thriftier husband focused on ways to save, such as refinancing their mortgage.
To help her feel that she was part of a team when it came to money matters, Jason would ask her to weigh in on financial questions during regular Sunday night planning sessions. "He included me as a complete equal," recalls Janice, who handled their day-to-day budget, as well as selected their monthly charitable donations. These steps ultimately did wonders to boost her confidence.
More from LearnVest:
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Budgeting and discussing finances is critical for any relationship.
also important is working towards your financial goals together. having common goals can really help to unite a couple.
In my experience, the further apart people are on there habits and goals the more difficult it can be to be a successful couple. I was brought up with the "pay yourself first" philosophy. By that I mean, pay your basic needs, fund your retirement, and pay or pay-off your debts. My son's mother nearly gave my mother a heart attack during a conversation about pension plans and 401ks when she made the declarative statement that we don't need to put money away for the future because that is what Social Security is for. She also had the belief that what is hers, is hers, and what is mine, is hers.Twenty five years later she is on her 5th husband, her 2nd bankruptcy, and still has nothing planned or saved for the future. I also was recently involved with someone that for some reason believed that a bank account had to be at zero the day the next paycheck came in for deposit. I am not a complete tightwad but I do only buy things I know I can pay for quickly or pay cash for. With that being said I travel occasionally and have very good material things that are all paid for. I have been working on my Bucket List and part of that Bucket List is to only do the things on the list as money becomes available. This is an accomplishment that is hard to do but I take great pride in being able to do this along with the other things. I'm sure there are couples that work well together and may even have different spending habits. I just haven't been able to find someone with similar beliefs no matter what their spending habits are.
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