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Advice for Couples with Different Money Personalities

It’s that time of year again. Candy hearts, greeting cards, and dinner reservations to that spot with the months-long waitlist are just a few ways Americans usher in Valentine’s Day. What do all these things have in common? Money!

Fact: According to the number crunchers at the National Retail Federation, Valentine’s Day 2022 was the second-highest spending year on record with 23.9 billion spent on partners, friends, and furry family members. (Clearly 2022’s record-breaking inflation didn’t dampen our romantic spirit too much.)

While money talk may not be the most romantic thing you do in February, being on the same financial page with your partner is important when it comes to planning, shared decision making, and saving up for the things you both care about the most.

But what happens when you both have different money personalities?

In a perfect universe, you being a “Pleasure Seeker” and your partner being an “Empire Builder” wouldn’t cause financial friction. But as many studies show, money misalignment tops the list of common couple struggles. So how can you keep the love alive on Valentine’s Day and the other 364 days of the year?

We’d like to offer a few suggestions.

Identify Your Money Personalities

If you’re seeking financial harmony, figure out what models resonate with you the most. Where do you fall in terms of prioritizing vacation spending? Using the example mentioned above, a “Pleasure Seeker” is willing to invest in this category because of the enjoyment it brings. In contrast, an “Empire Builder” might feel reluctant to spend or invest beyond what’s necessary since much of their energy is directed on their business or career pursuit.

How do you each feel about quick cash loans to family? An empathy-driven “Caretaker” may be eager to lend a helping hand to a relative in need while a frugal “Saver” could feel more resistant to spend down personal capital. Taking inventory of your respective money values and personalities is the first step towards shared financial footing.

Create Common Goals

Set aside some time to discuss what shared financial goalposts you can begin working towards if you haven’t already started—these can be short term goals, long term goals, or both. When deciding what you want to achieve, keep your partner’s money personality (and your own) in mind.

Maybe buying a new vehicle is a goal for the year. If your partner is an “Innocent,” they might talk about the benefits and overall value having a new car would bring but expect you to take the reins when it comes to getting into the nitty gritty of model or cost comparisons. If you’re a “Star” you might want to peruse the top luxury electric cars on the market, but you’ll need to weigh having a status vehicle with budget allowances your partner brings to the conversation.

Be flexible in creating goals so that neither of you are having to cast aside your personal money values, in other words—chances are if you don’t want to do something…you won’t.

Organize Your Accounts

If you have merged accounts, consider using the Money Management tool in our online and mobile banking. It allows you to document your common goals and track your spending and savings so you can keep each other accountable. If you have separate accounts, consider creating a third joint account devoted to shared spending and saving. Organizing your accounts will require some bandwidth on the front end but will save you time in the long run because you won’t have to devote as much energy towards figuring out where money is coming in and going out.

Pro tip: before you start organizing accounts, decide who might be better suited for getting the process started. A “Guardian” might stall or slow the process if they have analysis paralysis when it comes to choosing the best budget app for couples. An “Idealist” might be ready to dive in and include a discussion of whether charitable donations should be an individual or shared expense.

This article was provided in partnership with GreenPath Financial Wellness.

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