She's a saver. He's a spender
Some 84 percent of husbands and wives say money is a source of tension in their relationship, according to a recent Money Magazine survey. With the Abbates, Michael was the clear shopaholic. Who's the spender and who's the saver in your relationship? Do you have any other tips that have helped you keep the peace? We'd like to hear them.
Posted by Chris Morris 1:21 PM 17 Comments comment | Add a Comment

Thinking clearly about the true value of money and what money can really offer you is perhaps the best way to cope with differences in perception.

So much of people's self-worth is often caught up in how much they make, and what they buy with what they make (or, more likely, what they buy with what they borrow). This needs to be deconstructed.

If you can tease out the motivations behind spending, share and understand these, you will both get to know your partner much better and also find plenty of common ground to help you deal realistically with your finances.
Posted By Richard, St. Louis, Missouri : 1:57 PM  

I'm the saver, my wife is the spender. She says she "feels poor" if she can't spend money. I reply that spending your money makes you poor, since actually having the money is wealth. She doesn't see it that way, which is as far as I can tell, some form of insanity.
Posted By Jason, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada : 2:37 PM  

i have my husband give me a certain amount of his pay and put it into an account he knows nothing about. i funded our family vacation with this it was great. of course i tell him its to pay the bills.
Posted By sharon, miramar,fl : 4:03 PM  

I am a woman who makes about twice what my husband makes. I owned a house before we got married, and we have a pre-nuptial agreement that makes it clear that what he earns/had is his, and what I earn/have is mine. We have separate bank accounts, but share household expenses. (We don't have kids.) Many people think this arrangement is odd and not what marriage should be about. However, it really does help avoid a lot of conflicts about who spends how much on what items. Not that we don't have our conflicts - we most definitely do. There is an inherent imbalance of power in our relationship that causes tension, and there are no easy answers. However, my feeling is that such an imbalance is best corrected by the person with less working harder to save/earn, and not by forcing or guilt-tripping the person with more to feel bad about their success. I keep trying to encourage my husband to implement specific strategies for saving, but it is an uphill battle...
Posted By Lee, Pleasanton, CA : 4:06 PM  

My wife and I must be the exception and not the rule. We very rarely argue about money (or financial direction). We both are frugal, but know that you can't take your money with you when you die. We are doing very well in saving for retirement, have the financial means to do most of what we want, and have no real debt to speak of (except, obviously, our home mortgage). It is a heavenly equilibrium.
Posted By Michael, Cleveland, OH : 5:30 PM  

My Wife and I have agreed several years ago that our household income/finaces should be managed like a business . This has allowed us to view our spending /savings in a whole new light.Future investments in our retierment fund create profit. Well deserved vacations, gifts, and certain lifestyles are an expense which need controls/guidelines.
We have not arqued about money in the last 10 years, and have achieved a level of finacial security that we both feel good about while living life at a level we are both comfortable with.
Posted By Karl & Susan Atlanta, GA : 7:38 PM  

My wife is a spender. She also happens to be the majority 'bread-winner'; a pediatrician. Most men worry about their wife purchasing a pair of shoes or maybe even that expensive pair of denims. I wish it were so easy. Last April, we drove past a dealership and she asked me if I liked a car. It happened to be the one turning around on the revolving platform with all the spotlights. I said, "Sure" and, felt the pit of my stomach turn. That was Saturday night. Monday afternoon, the car was in our garage.
Posted By Alan, Atlanta Georgia : 9:35 PM  

My wife and I take a team approach to marriage and finances. We put all of our money into shared checking and savings accounts. We discuss all major purchases before buying anything, and don't hide money from each other. I think that if two people have enough in common to get married and are working toward the same goals both financially and otherwise, then problems don't occur as often. If my wife is very adamant about purchasing something that I don't think we really need, but she really wants, as long as she has carefully considered the purchase and found the best price, I'm not going to tell her not to spend the money. After all, it's just money, it's not worth causing conflict in our relationship because she wants to spend $500 on piece of furniture, for example. Being healthy and happy are what count the most.
Posted By Kevin- Philadelphia, PA : 8:16 AM  

My wife and I have tried a couple of ways to deal with money. We have one account and everything we make is "ours". We give each other some freedom in spending but anything over $100 must be a mutual decision. We still have battles, but things work out pretty well.
Posted By Mike, Kennesaw, Georgia : 9:01 AM  

Money in a marriage is a nightmare when you have two opposite partners. It helped destroy my marriage. My wife left me after 23 years because of my constant pressure on her about her spending. Her spending habits were forcing us to spend $1500 a month more then we brought in. I wish I could have done something different but I tried my best. My suggestion: get rid of all plastic, credit cards and loans and deal only in cash as least then you have a true representation of what you actually have and don't have.
Posted By j, youngstown, oh : 10:03 AM  

We're both spenders, but I make about half what my partner makes. We put almost equal $ into a joint account and that pays for things that gets a check written out, such as mortgage, utlities, etc. For all other things like groceries, clothes, toys, etc, whoever is buying it pays for it. I buy a lot of clothes for our daughter, cause I like buying clothes. He pays for groceries cause he likes to cook. Sometimes he'll see toys that he thinks our daughter will like, so he buys it and I do the same. We normally don't check with each other before buying something. For major purchases, we do research and consult with each other. We bought a big TV, that was a joint purchase, we each paid half of it. We have one child together and another on the way. This arrangement has worked very well for us. Neither of us have to control spending, luckily, we both make enough to not be in debt.
Posted By Rain, Los Angeles, CA : 2:42 PM  

my husband delegates me to handle all the finances in the home because he was a spur of the moment spender regardless of cost and home finances. We have had this arrangement for over 20 years and it works wonderfully. If his hands are not immedietely on the money, then he can't/won't have the urge to spend. Our checks go direct deposit into the account.
Posted By Jazz, Darlington, SC : 4:45 PM  

It's important to pick the person you marry carefully. Opposites attract is non-sense. The more you are alike the better. It seems money, children, inlaws are sources of stress in marriage and in that order. My wife and I both spendthrifts and share similar values regarding most issues in life. Ironically, my wife, a doctor, and myself, a real estate broker/developer, probably seem very middle-class or at least not in the in-crowd, but we have a multi-million dollar net worth. We both feel that labor and productivity, not status, is what one should strive for and especially instill this in our children.
Posted By Morgan and Carol, Palo Alto CA : 11:13 PM  

My ex was definitely a spender and had a difficult time understanding that when we ran out of money, we ran out of money. There was always a good reason to buy something, but never a change in other spending to ensure we had enough to cover the expenditure. I've always made twice as much as he made and for several years worked two jobs to pay for his schooling and bills. I had to hide our emergency fund and check book (he wrote over $2K of checks without ever writing them down or telling me about them -- I found out when my nephew's birthday check of $10 bounced!).

He never wanted to talk about money or go to a counselor. And when I did put my foot down, he would sneak money out of our accounts by buying with a check, returning it and pocketing the cash.

As you can probably tell, this was a large reason why we are no longer married...
Posted By diane, beavercreek, OH : 4:28 PM  

This article says it all, "I want to drive something that reflects my income." I suspect that if we looked at this couple's financial books, we'd see the real wizard behind the curtain. Burning emergency accounts, tapping lines of home credit, and leasing a car are all red flags that to me say, "Cash Flow Problem".
Posted By matt, philadelphia, pa : 8:05 AM  

What a great article. I am the spender and my husband is the saver- But here is the thing: I used to be a saver before I met him (or so I thought I was) But I'd save to buy things - he saves to save. If I want something that is costly and he disagrees or doesn't go out immediately and buy it, I sometimes take it as if he is saying, "You're not worth it."
Posted By Kitten , Central Florida : 10:36 PM  

My wife and I come from very conservative working class parents from small towns in Ohio. We have been married 19 years and have always had separate checking accounts. My wife makes about 1/6 of my wages and uses her wages for her needs, buys the food and pays the electric bill. I take care of everything else. After our parents passed, we both manage our respective inheritance investment accounts separately and have different though mutually approved investment counselors. We have frequent discussions about how we are investing and we are both open-minded about each other criticisms and investment style.
After 19 years of marriage we have very few, if any, household money issues, and I would say we are blessed in that neither of us would be considered a shopper(spender). We also enjoy a trust with each other and realize that all of our shared assets will someday belong to the last one of us standing anyway!
Posted By Dave Galena, OH : 2:21 PM  

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