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What’s your relationship with money?

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

Photo credit: Thierry Raimbault

Often, when we hear someone say: “This dress is not on sale, I shouldn’t buy it” we assume she’s responsible with money and frugal. When we hear a person excited to go to the mall and say: “YOLO let’s go shopping like there’s no tomorrow,” we assume he’s enjoying the present moment.

It seems like we were born with different money personalities and react differently to spending and saving. A while ago, I read the book called The 5 Money Personalities: Speaking the Same Love and Money Languageby Scott and Bethany Palmer. Today, I’d like to share my insights on this beautiful book as many couples go through important financial changes with the pandemic.

Married couples or significant others living under the same roof commonly run into arguments about money. It’s not like living with a roommate where you can split your groceries in half or take turns on buying the toilet paper. Your partner is not your roommate, we expect a lot more sharing, connection and trust. This goes for your finances as well.

First off, there’s no right or wrong answer on having a common checking account. You can choose to do it or not, it’s totally up to you. Having separate checking accounts doesn’t mean you don’t trust your partner.

Second, when it comes to splitting the bills, paying for the mortgage, kids’ expenses, vacation and food, things don’t naturally come into place and everyone is happy. You need to have those hard conversations about who’s paying what and what are your end goals with your savings. Do you split in half or do you contribute based on the percentage of salary? Is your goal to save for a vacation or a house? Do you reimburse your debt first or start investing for the kid’s college fund?

Unfortunately, money is a big enough source of contention that it unsurprisingly leads to divorce. Money fights are common and can affect the kids, but the good news is that it can be fixed. Check out the article “when parents fight over money” for more info.

When two lovebirds fight over money, resentment can build up. People may commit financial infidelities, such as hiding money or purchases from their partner. They may also lessen the price of their shopping spree out of shame or open a credit card behind their partner’s back. Whatever it is, it is not about money. It is about breaking trust.

The gist of the book is to identify your money personality, then work together towards your financial dream while respecting your partner’s money personality.

Most people have a dominant/primary money personality. However, we do not entirely fall into that main category, we are also driven by a secondary one. Once you read the descriptions, figure out your primary and secondary money type, and do NOT assume your partner’s money type. Let him or her find out on their own. When you are ready to exchange, gather up and discuss it away.

Here’s a very short summary of the 5 money personalities:

The saver loves good deals and clipping coupons. Her superpower is self-control and she usually get anxious during shopping sprees. She always pays her credit card debt in full and does not enjoy spending more than she can afford. She can be a party-pooper and miss out opportunities because of her fear of spending money.

The spender loves to be generous with family, friends and herself. Taking the money out and getting something at the mall provides great satisfaction. Birthday gifts, celebrations, ceremonies are also a great opportunity to spend. However, she should watch out her credit card statements because money can fly by pretty quickly.

The risk-taker enjoys being part of something thrilling. She won’t hesitate to invest in innovative but risky start-ups, vintage coins, penny stocks or even cryptocurrencies. The dopamine is her main driver. It’s exciting to be around her because a new adventure is always around the corner but it’s important to find a good balance between taking risks and being stuck in a bad situation.

The security-seeker needs to feel reassured with lots of backup plans, parachutes and insurance plans. She will take her time (sometimes too long) before spending, and she’ll make sure to get things that are worth it. Seeking security is a very mature trait but sometimes, a bit of spontaneity can’t hurt anyone.

The flyer is the freest of all personality types. It’s a person driven by passions rather than money. Money isn’t a determining factor in decision-making. Not caring about money doesn’t mean she’s broke, she’s just interested in other things than her finances.

Once you find out which money type you are, discuss it with your partner. There are strength and weaknesses in all types. There is no better ones than the other and no hierarchy. You should focus on getting to know your partner, while remaining non-judgmental of hie or her money type.

It’s entirely possible that you used to be a certain type and changed over time. When I was younger, I identified as a flyer/saver. I badly wanted to be a starving artist in Paris and live with little responsibilities. With time and experience, I became a security-seeker/saver. Going through life made me realize the value of money and starving wasn’t appealing to me as much.

Sometimes, people like to project the image of a security-seeker/saver as a responsible parent. Other people like to show that they’re fun and outgoing when deep inside, they’re afraid and anxious about not having enough. Admit your real type and do not be ashamed of your real money personality. Each personality type has its flaws and superpowers, so don’t worry about other people’s opinions and acknowledge who you truly are.

Scott and Bethany Palmer also recommend that your relationship with money needs to be discussed every month to make sure your goals are on track. When couples first meet, their dreams bound them together. Make sure to keep those dreams alive and keep your eyes on the prize.

Knowing there are several money types allowed me to better understand people and their behavior. As a saver, I truly enjoyed getting stuff on sale. My goal was to save money for travelling and emergencies. The important lesson is that the amount of money isn’t a factor. The relationship with money, the way we handle it, the anxiety we feel around it, or the delayed reward are what’s causing fights between couples. I used to think that everyone’s goal was the same as mine, but I was wrong. This book made me realize that we need to be open and respectful of our partner’s relationship with money.

In conclusion, money is a hot topic for certain couples, but it is not actually about the money. It is about their relationship with money and how each person approaches the issue of spending and saving together. The book talks about the 5 personalities: saver, spender, risk-taker, security seeker and flyer. Once you’ve identified your main and your secondary money type, discuss it with your partner and try to remain as non-judgmental as possible. Steer away from financial infidelity and be genuine about your intentions so you can maintain the trust in the relationship. Then, concentrate on your common goal(s) and make sure that you stay on track with your expenses with your end goal in mind. Keeping the dreams alive will keep the relationship happy. Having monthly money dates is a good idea so each party knows that a discussion is to be had and no nagging would happen in between.


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