Myth #11: It’s My Spouse’s Fault!

Most of us interact with money automatically. We have a certain style, defined by our “type,” that colors the way we relate to money. I’ve found that there are four types:

THE SAVER: No matter what, Savers have to save money, and they can never save enough. They might agree to save a certain amount, but once they accomplish their goal, they will constantly raise the bar saying, “But I really need to save more.” They have to be saving all the time, no matter how much they have already saved.

THE SPENDER: Spenders need to spend in order to keep from feeling too confined. If they aren’t spending, they aren’t happy. The amount doesn’t have to be a lot. It can be $5 here and $10 there. They need to have the security of taking money out of their purse or their wallet whenever they want and buying something. They never go too long without telling you of their need to buy something new—whether for the house, the children, or some hobby. And to them, it’s completely justified; they just can’t get along without it.

THE WORRIER: No matter what, these people are always worried that there isn’t enough money. If they have enough, they’re afraid it will go away. They are anxious that a disaster is going to happen. They’re concerned that they or their spouse will lose their jobs. They wake up in the middle of the night worried about money.

THE AVOIDER: The last thing these people want to do is to deal with or talk about money. They would rather clean out the freezer than balance their checkbook. They pay their bills late. They wait until the midnight deadline to mail their taxes, or they file an extension. They might be in trouble with collection agencies, even though they have money in their checking account. They will go to great lengths to avoid dealing with it.

When it comes to money, our type—the automatic behaviors we are prone to do without thinking—runs the show. A Saver doesn’t wake up and say, “I’m going to save.” A Saver just saves. A Spender’s default behavior is simply to spend.

When couples begin to evaluate their money situation and express frustration at the state of things, one thing often comes to the surface. They believe that their financial problems are the fault of their spouse or partner.

“If he just wouldn’t spend so much.”

“I can’t get her to talk about money.”

“She can’t say no to the kids. We’re always buying new things for them.”

“Everything we make he puts into savings and always tells me we don’t have enough.”

“He spends all this money on basketball games and his racing boats!”

“I’m worried about her losing her job. There is so much pressure on me to provide.”

The saying “opposites attract” often applies to finances: rarely do you find that those in a relationship approach money in the same way. A Saver may find herself in a relationship with an Avoider. A Worrier married to a Spender will have plenty of grist for the mill. No wonder each thinks it’s the other person’s fault when things get out of balance.

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