Money and Relationships: What happens when a spender and a saver fall in love?

Money personalities

When opposite money personalities attract

I have a bone to pick with romance. While I love 90s rom coms and am positively glued to Love Island UK when it’s on air, the idea these shows present is that you can throw two opposite personalities together and they’ll live happily after.

That’s simply not true.

We believe it because it’s convenient. But the reality is that if you throw two opposites together, you’re more likely to get conflict that compatibility.
People have different priorities and life goals and it’s these differences that are likely to create conflict between two people who spend most of their time together.

Money is one of the leading causes of conflict between couples but something that many of us have difficulty talking about. If you’re starting to think about combining finances with your partner, it’s worth identifying your individual money personalities and thinking about how these different personalities will play out in a relationship.

But what are money personalities?

Money personalities are your likes and dislikes, your strengths and your weaknesses when it comes to money. There are multiple theories about money personalities but you’ll find that there are two personalities which are the most established: The Spender and the Saver.

If you’re wondering which money personality you are, consider what makes you feel best or what gives you the most satisfaction when it comes to your money. Spenders feel amazing when they’re splashing their cash whereas a Saver feels more secure watching their savings account rise.

Let’s dive in by first looking at the most glamourous personality: The Spender.

You know you’re a Spender if…you feel pleasure from spending money.

You’re always on the look out for the next big purchase and are determined to keep up with the latest trends, whether it be getting your hands on the newest iPhone or keeping your wardrobe fashions in vogue. Spenders aren’t necessarily selfish in these choices as the Spenders I know are also brilliant at buying the perfect gift for their friends or family, given their experience at shopping for pleasure.

While Spenders derive pleasure from spending, I envy them because they can fully appreciate their purchases and aren’t racked by guilt after making an impromptu purchase. Spenders prioritise enjoyment over practicality and will be that person always trying to keep up with the joneses.

The flip side of this can mean that Spenders are more likely to have to worry about money problems in the future, particularly if they put too many of their purchases on credit cards and neglect their financial goals in favour of fast fashion.

The antidote to the Spender? The Saver.

You know you’re a Saver if…you feel pleasure from saving money.

You’re always on the look out for your savings rate and are determined to keep up with their bank account activity. Savers aren’t necessarily scrooges but they are more likely to spend time carefully considering their purchases before they whip out their debit card at the shops and to have a good idea of where their money goes each month.

While Savers derive pleasure from saving their money, as a proud Saver myself, I’ve felt the regret of missing out on purchases because I wanted to wait and buy them on sale. Savers prioritise saving their money and will be that person who regularly contributes towards their emergency fund and investment accounts.

The flip side of this is that Savers can feel guilty about purchases and are less likely to go with high growth investment or retirement accounts because these accounts come with a higher risk of losing money, something Savers are inherently not as comfortable with.

So what happens when a Saver and a Spender fall in love?

Before you combine bank accounts with a partner, you should talk about money with your partner and ensure that you’re aware of their previous experiences with and attitudes towards money. This conversation will often reveal whether they’re more of a Spender or a Saver.

And when these opposite money personalities collide, conflict is inevitable.

When you start to combine finances in a relationship, including opening a joint bank account, you need to set early ground rules to determine how you will manage money together. Otherwise, the ugly side of each money personality will come out in force, including:

  • The Spender doing what they do best and spending the Saver’s money without asking, which will make the Saver feel less in control of their money.
  • The Saver playing to type and becoming more frugal in their spending, which will make Spender resentful as they aren’t able to flex their spending muscles with what is essentially also their money.

While the Spender and Saver clearly have the capacity to drive each other crazy, conflicts around money can be navigated through compromise.
Both money personalities have strengths when it comes to how they manage money and there are things that they can teach each other.

This includes:

  • The Saver can help the Spender logically prioritise their spending and to make smarter choices with the money available to them rather than reaching for the credit card.
  • The Spender can help the Saver fully enjoy their purchases and get over the guilt of spending money which many Savers experience. In this scenario, you’ll see Savers start to relax and more fully appreciate the value that new purchases can bring into their lives.

Ultimately, these money personalities are opposites and they will need to navigate potential areas of conflict when it comes to starting to combine their finances and how they spend their joint finances. If they are willing to talk about money in their relationship and start this conversation with respect for both the strengths of the Saver and the Spender, they can work together to build a stronger financial and romantic future.

Kate Crowhurst

Written by Kate Crowhurst

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