The idea that money is involved somehow in most divorces is an oft-cited statistic. But why is money such a problem? One of the biggest issues might be the way we communicate about money with our significant others. At the root of improving financial communication, contend Scott and Bethany Palmer, also known as “The Money Couple,” is understanding where your partner is coming from. The two wrote a book, First Comes Love, Then Comes Money, about improving your financial communication by putting your love first.
Understanding Your Partner: What Are Your Money Personalities?
“We have 38 years of combined financial planning experience,” Bethany says, “and one of the things that we discovered is that couples would come in and put together a plan. They thought that a financial plan would make their relationship good. However, we often discovered, after putting together this plan with a couple, they’d be getting a divorce a couple years later.”
Scott points out that, “Every decision you make as a couple has a money component, from big decisions like cars and houses to small decisions about where you will eat tonight and what shoes you will buy. A plan can help, but you have to understand where your spouse is coming from.”
One of the most interesting concepts in the book is that of money personalities. We’ve all heard about money personalities like “spender” and “saver,” but The Money Couple takes a little bit further. They offer five different personalities:
- Saver: Penny pinchers looking for a good deal. Love to see the money grow, and try not to spend.
- Spender: Enjoys spending money. Bethany is quick to point out, though, that spenders aren’t necessarily selfish: “Many of the spenders of the world are generous with gift. They love spending money on others as well as themselves.”
- Risk Taker: Entrepreneurs, and many investors, are risk takers. They don’t mind taking risks – even if it means losing. They think the big pay off is worth the chance of loss.
- Security Seeker: Wants to make sure each money move is the right one. Wants to play it safe, and consider the options before making a decision.
- Flyer: Doesn’t really care about financial planning. Doesn’t think about money very much.
“Of those five money personalities,” Bethany explains, “everyone has two. There is a primary personality and a secondary personality.”
“We found that 65% of people are married to the opposite money personality,” Scott continues. “Either your primary or secondary personality is likely to be opposite. We are often attracted to people who complement us.”
The key to making it work is understanding where your partner is coming from. “You have to be willing to see the world as they do,” Bethany says. “That is why understanding your partner’s money personality is so important. If you are married to a flyer, why are you so surprised when he doesn’t get the tax return complete ahead of time? If you are married to a security seeker, you need to approach your investing ideas from an angle that shows that you have thought through it. You have to be able to explain why it’s a smart money move.”
“There is no right money personality, and no wrong one,” Bethany insists. “However, you do need to know where your partner is coming from. Once you know this, you can approach money decisions with understanding, and you can reduce your fights about finances.”
Learning Your Partner’s Money Personality
Knowing how your potential spouse deals with money requires observation and a talk about habits. “Money personalities are a great place to start the money conversation,” Scott says. “Part of the reason we wrote this book was to help couples start talking to each other about money. Money personalities are a great way to break the ice.”
Once you have talked about your money personalities, you can transition into money issues like debt. “You don’t suddenly need a joint account, but you do need to be honest. You have to avoid financial infidelity from the start, and money personalities can be a more relaxed way to get started,” Scott insists. The Money Couple also has a great resource that includes 20 questions to ask before you get married.
Overall, this book is a great resource for learning how to understand yourself and your partner when it comes to money. You can get helpful tips on handling money disagreements, conducting regular money huddles to touch base, and how to restore your financial relationship if it is off track. I really like how this book emphasizes understanding each other because you love each other, and coming to money decisions from your partner’s point of view.
I received a free copy of this book for review. I was not compensated financially for this review.