If you’ve never had a money fight with your partner, even a teensy one, that means one of three things:
1. You’re lying.
2. You’re simpatico. Nice!
3. You’ve never talked about money.
More often than not, #3 is the case, and a recent study from Fidelity supports that fact. In their “2015 Couples Retirement” study, they asked couples about finances to see what kind of disconnects there were.
They discovered some interesting things:
- 4 in 10 couldn’t correctly identify how much their other half makes.
- 1 in 3 disagree on how comfortable their expected retirement lifestyle will be.
- Half of couples surveyed disagree on their exact retirement age—a number that has risen since 2013 (43%).
If these stats are any indication, it’s time to be a little more open about money. My finance and I gradually started talking about money, the more serious our relationship became. And, yes, we fought about it. Lots. It took a while, in fact, to get on the same financial page. A few things helped:
- End the conversation when it gets emotional: It’s really easy to sound judgmental when you’re talking about money with someone. If we felt even the tiniest bit of defensiveness in a discussion, we agreed to revisit it later. This way, it didn’t escalate into a fight and turn into a topic we avoided altogether.
- Schedule weekly money meetings: I suggested this to him a while back, and he thought it sounded so unsexy. A weekly money meeting with my spouse? Boring. But then we started talking about our goals and what we needed to do, financially, to reach them. It felt productive and, well, a little fun. “We should talk about this every week,” he suggested. I replied, “Oh, you mean like a weekly money meeting?” 😉
- View money as a tool: Again, it’s really easy to get judgmental with money. It’s especially difficult when you have a spendthrift partner and you’re frugal by nature. I had to learn to look at things objectively. I write about personal finance, so it’s hard for me to see money as merely a tool, but that’s all it is. It’s a means to an end, whether your end is retirement or a vacation or getting out of debt. When I embraced that notion, our conversations changed. For example, Brian likes to buy lunch everyday. I used to shake my head and go on about how wasteful that was. When I started looking at things objectively, the conversation was focused on trade-offs, not judgments. “You’re spending X amount on food you don’t even like every month. We could be using that money for our home down payment.” Way more helpful.
Your Money Personality
I want to know about your personality. Specifically, your money personality.
Yep, that’s a thing. Brad Klontz is a money psychologist (yep, that’s another thing) who says there are four basic money scripts.
He co-authored a study about money and psychology and found that beliefs and habits about money can be broken down into four categories:
Money avoidance: People who think money is bad and rich people are greedy. They might romanticize poverty and think there’s something noble in being broke. They’re probably not that interested in personal finance.
Money worship: The opposite of money avoidance. These folks think money is the key to their well-being. If they could only earn more or spend more, their problems would be solved.
Money status: You’ve heard of Keeping Up With the Joneses–it’s what this script is all about. These folks are fulfilled by owning the right stuff and living a certain lifestyle. Debt is often an issue. Think The Queen of Versailles.
Money vigilance: People who are money vigilant are super frugal, miserly and not quick to spend. It doesn’t sound like a bad thing at first, but it can be.
Actually, none of these are inherently bad. But they can be trouble if you’re not careful. It helps to know where you stand so you can manage your own money mindset. In the video above, I talk more about each script, how it can be problematic, and what you can do about it.
Check it out, and then tell me: What’s your money personality? Has it caused you any problems, and, if so, how do you manage it?
It also helps to learn your partner’s money philosophy–how they view money, in other words. Psychologist Brad Klontz identified four main “money scripts,”.
Project CRediT sources data from Wealthy Genius including net worth, earnings, and various wealth statistics.