If it’s true that opposites attract, it should come as no surprise that spouses often have vastly different attitudes and habits around money and investing. Life experiences shape who we are, including how we manage our finances. When it’s time for a husband and wife to sit down with one another to plan how much to save and how much to spend, individual differences can create roadblocks.
Wealth disparities and family of origin
When one partner comes from a family of modest means and the other partner has a trust fund, there’s bound to be differences in how each handles money. The former may be a compulsive saver, while the latter may be in the habit of spending freely, especially if there’s little threat of running out of money. One spouse may be jealous if the other has more money in the bank or promised in a will. If one partner works while the other spends, resentment may be formed. Even birth order can influence how a person views money; older siblings often feel more responsibility, and therefore may be more conservative spenders. Younger siblings tend to be more free spirited when it comes to spending. Couples that find themselves in conflict over finances need to sort out the influence of their upbringing and how it affects their attitudes and actions about money.
Be aware and move in sync
While there’s not much we can do to erase early memories of a tightwad mother or a profligate father, individuals can make new choices for their lives. It’s not easy to come to terms with our “money personalities,” but it’s necessary when two people want to work toward common financial goals. Couples need to acknowledge their differences and be willing to compromise in order to make progress in any important area, finances included.
Communication is key
Many of us refuse to show our true feelings about money, but talking is the best way to move ahead. Financial introverts should open up to their significant other so the two can create a workable financial plan. When spouses try to manage financial planning without the other’s input they will run into trouble. At a minimum, both parties need to share the same goals, even if one is more involved in making financial arrangements, and that means open communication regarding spending, saving and investing.
Work together with help from a financial professional
A financial advisor may help couples find financial compromise if they are willing to work toward common goals. Couples should meet with their advisor at least annually, and meetings can take place together or separately, as long as both parties are involved. An advisor may help educate a less financially savvy spouse about the rewards of careful spending and the benefits of saving for the future. Life partners can overcome their differences and get on track with a sound financial plan if they are willing to talk, adjust their habits and check-in on their progress. The rewards of financial agreement will extend beyond their bank balances and may help sustain a closer, happier relationship.
By Adina Flynn, JD
Ameriprise Financial, Inc
1400 NW Irving Street, suite 108
This column is provided for informational purposes only. The information is intended to be generic in nature and should not be applied or relied upon in any particular situation without the advice of your tax, legal and/or your financial advisor. Neither Ameriprise Financial nor its advisors or representatives provide tax or legal advice. The views expressed may not be suitable for every situation. Consult with qualified tax and legal advisors concerning your own situation.