Savers versus spenders – the great divide

Five tips to help couples bridge the gap on their financial attitudes

We’re all different when it comes to our perspectives on spending. Some people have no problem saving all their extra pennies, and some people spend what they have without thinking about the future. While differences make the world go round, conflicting thoughts on money matters can lead to tension in relationships. If you and your partner find yourselves at opposite ends of the saving versus spending spectrum, these tips can help you meet in the middle.

1. Understand each other’s differences

You’re buying a new car together. The spender wants all the upgrades, while the saver is just fine with the base model. When emotions run high, it can be difficult to see where your partner is coming from. The truth is, our Budgeting with Partnerattitudes about money are deeply rooted. Perhaps you or your partner is stingier with spending because there was less to go around growing up. Perhaps the person who is free with money gets an emotional reward from spending. Try to take a step back and discuss the reasoning behind your behaviour. It’s always easier to negotiate when you try to validate each other’s feelings, instead of assigning blame.

2. Set goals you can agree on

As a saver, it can seem irritating if your partner is constantly making purchases you deem frivolous. Creating a spending plan as a couple – with shared goals in mind – can help bring you together around common values. For example, say you agree that taking a trip overseas or buying a home is your biggest priority. You may want to consider how much you’ll need for that expense and factor how long it will take you to save that amount. With that savings goal in mind, it will probably be a whole lot easier to pass up unnecessary indulgences.

It is possible for partners with different spending styles to find a middle ground.

3. Establish a system for bill payment

When your bills roll in each month, avoid the last-minute scramble by setting parameters on who will pay each bill if you manage your finances using separate accounts. Perhaps you each cover half of your mortgage or rent, one of you pays the auto insurance and the other covers hydro. Since these expenses are generally fixed, setting up a system for handling bills up-front gives you one less thing to worry (fight) about.

4. Set a threshold for joint purchases

Every couple has a different way of structuring their finances, and sometimes, it takes a bit of trial and error. Some people keep separate accounts and split everything down the middle, while others pool all their resources. Other couples have four accounts between them: one joint for savings, one joint for everyday expenses and two individual accounts for whatever’s left (fun money). Whichever system you decide is best for you, you may want to consider setting a limit on the amount you can spend on a joint purchase without consulting each other. Discussing big-ticket purchases with your partner before you take the plunge is an easy way to avoid a disagreement.

5. Call for backup

Sometimes, reaching out to an impartial third party is the best way to solve financial disputes. I can help by talking to you about your goals and determining the best way to structure your finances to suit your needs. With a customized financial plan in tow, you’ll have a solid foundation for the decisions you make about your money.

With a common vision for your future and the right financial action plan, it’s possible for partners with different spending styles to find a middle ground.