You're a Spender He's a Saver, How to Keep Money From Killing Your Marriage
By the ripe old age of 23, I had effectively dated every doctor in the tri-state area. Why? Because my mother had convinced me that it was my destiny to marry a doctor-- and why I believed her I'm still not completely sure- but I guess it was because I wanted to please her. My mother had married my dad at the age of 18, and I guess never felt completely at ease with the fact that neither one of them got their college degrees. SO she made it her mission to assure that each and every one of her kids would "marry" better. Looking back now I realize how flawed and misguided her thinking was and how I wish she would've pushed me to attain a higher level of education, beyond my college degree, but I guess being of a different generation, where men brought home the bacon and women cooked it up- she must have believed my best bet at securing my financial future was to marry someone with money (as opposed to encouraging me to make my own). And as a young impressionable 18 year old, I so desperately wanted her seal of approval and so I specifically sought out suitors who would measure up to her version of what an ideal husband for me should be.
My mother convinced me marrying a medical doctor would guarantee me a life of luxury, and security, she scoffed at the D.O. (the osteopath I once dated, claiming he WASN'T a REAL M.D.) And for several years I dated with this singular mission. But here's the thing about marrying someone who is established and has money-- after all is said and done-- that money is theirs and nothing in this world is free. Doctors are also a whole different breed of man-- imagine going to school for another good ten years after college, having to work for so long to achieve that title- it's takes a certain kind of personality to sustain that kind of pressure and singular focus. Still I kept my focus and I dated many doctors who wore their MD's like badges of honor, drove expensive cars and were incredibly enamored with themselves and their titles and sense of power. Of course, those relationships never ended all that well. And then I met my husband, who was THE ANTI-DOCTOR.
Fast forward 13 years and our attitudes about finance have been clearly delineated- and are pretty much the same that they were when we first met-- I like to spend and he likes to save. Recently I attended an event in NYC hosted by Go Girl Finance where I met Manisha Thakor who teaches, writes and speaks about MoneyZen - a joy based approach to mastering the basics of personal finance & achieving financial serenity and security. I figured, Ms. Thakor would be the best professional to give my husband and I guidance on how to keep financial issues from killing our marriage. Keep reading for her tips and insights!
Lifetime Moms: Why is money and our attitude about it- such a problem for so many marriages?
Money is such a problem for so many marriages because money is an element of our relationships that we typically haven't been encourage to tend to and nurture When you meet someone special you'll likely chat with your friends or think to yourself whether you are emotionally, physically, intellectually, or spiritually compatible. But rarely are you encourage to think whether you are financially compatible. Then you actually get married and the stark reality that money is a DAILY logistical factor in your marriages its you in the face and you have no training on how to speak to each other about this topic. And this is compounded by the fact that many of us never learned about personal finance in the first. So we feel shame and embarrassment which keeps us from bringing up this topic even though we know it's causing a problem in our relationship.
Lifetime Moms: What do you do if you've fallen into spender saver roles- can you shed them?
The old adage "opposites attract" holds true for financial habits as well. But rather than try to change yourself (or your partner) so you can be on the same place along the saver/spender spectrum, I think it's much healthier to try and understand what is behind each other's financial habits so you can find solutions that maximize both of your happiness. For instance, I'm more of a saver and to me money is security. My hubby is more of a spender and to him money is is freedom to enjoy life. Knowing this about each other we can find ways to manage our household finances that make me feel secure and enable him to feel like his hard earned dollars are going towards the activities in life that bring him the most joy. By taking the focus off where we each are different and instead focusing on what's really stirring each of you at a soul level, you can make this topic of money a much kinder, gentler, and more authentic conversation.
Lifetime Moms: Why is it so important that couples are on the same page when it comes to money- and what are the consequences if they can't?
Your household money is like a big rubber band. If you are both pulling it in opposite directions, forcefully and for long periods of time, eventually it will break and snap. By contrast if you a rubber band ("your household finances") to wrap around a mutually decided upon set of goals, together you can pull it forward. In these economic times it's the rare household that isn't experiencing a reset of expectations. Financial tensions are everywhere. If you work together on addressing them it can actually bring you closer and make your relationship stronger. But the flip side is also true... if you don't get on the same page in terms of understanding and maximizing each of your deepest needs around money fights breaks out. As a result, money is consistently cited as one of the top causes of fights in marriages.
Manisha Thakor's top 5 tips to help couples conquer their money issues in 2012:
1. Have an annual household financial summit - where you come together to set (and then assess) your overarching financial goals for the year. January is a great time to do this.
2. Set monthly check ins - at the end of each month do a brief check to see if you are on track by looking at your income and expense for that month and comparing them to your master plan
3. Stop & talk when circumstances change - If one of you lose a job or experiences a reduction in hours, you switch jobs, you get pregnant, etc., sit down and reassess your game plan - all too often people keep spending as if nothing had changed.
4. Take a personal finance class - many community colleges now offer them. It's hard to talk about a topic you've never been taught about, so be gentle on yourself.
5. Read GET FINANCIALLY NAKED - a book I co-wrote designed to give couple an easy peasy road map to financial bliss.
So, do you have any tips to add?