Most families these days have dual incomes at some stage and rarely are these incomes equal. In the couples I see, the money is most commonly managed by the higher income earner. Sometimes, the money is kept in separate personal accounts with the couple agreeing on who pays what. But more often, the money is pooled and used to pay for all expenses. Rarely is there complete harmony when it comes to how the money is spent. That’s because there’s usually a spender and a saver in any one relationship and the different attitudes can cause arguments.
You don’t have to have a spending problem to be the spender. Nor do you have to be very tight with money to be the saver. Many generous people are savers and many discerning shoppers are spenders. We are all on a continuum and rarely are we on the same point on that line as our partner.
In the couples I see, the spender is often resentful of the control the saver tries to have over their spending and the saver is resentful about the money the spender spends. Following me? In other words, it’s hard for both parties. As usual, a pinch of empathy for the other person’s position will go a long way and after that, here are some strategies to minimise the issues that can arise from different attitudes towards money:
- Have insight – know whether you are a saver or a spender and why
- Understand why your partner thinks the way they do – it’s usually related to their upbringing
- Draw up a household budget with all income and expenses – a horrible, but necessary task
- Agree on an amount that both can use at their discretion – no questions asked
- Work out who is going to manage the budget – I often suggest that it’s the spender, so they are forced to be aware of the consequences of overspending
- Agree that you will both check with the other person before overspending – too often, the manager of the budget doesn’t consult with the other because they know when it’s okay to spend, which just leaves the other person feeling a sense of inequality if they are always asked to justify any spending over the allotted amount
- Be good role models for your children – it’s hard to teach them how to manage money if you’re constantly arguing over finances
- Don’t link pocket money to chores – many people will disagree with me on this, but I believe that unless you are going to follow through with threats to hold back their allowance if they don’t do their chores, it’s not helpful to keep nagging them to hold up their end of the bargain but still dishing out the money. Children need to be constantly asked to help around the house and be given responsibilities to prepare them for adulthood. And giving them an allowance is a good way to teach them how to save and spend responsibly. By keeping the two issues separate, the messages of money management and being part of a household are clearer.