Unity One Credit Union

Reconciling a Spender-Saver Marriage

Tue, Aug 13, 2019 @ 07:02 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in family budget, budgeting, saving money, Unity One Credit Union

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Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource Center. Written by Monica Steinisch.

Money ranks high on the list of reasons partners fight or split up. In any marriage, even one where both partners manage money similarly, family finances create conflict at least occasionally. But when one spouse is a saver and the other is a spender, financial disagreements can be frequent, emotional, and divisive.

If you and your partner seem to be polar opposites when it comes to money attitudes, don’t give up hope of a truce. Experts say opposite money personalities actually can complement each other: Savers keep spenders out of the poor house while spenders encourage savers to enjoy themselves now and then. Of course, getting to a balanced approach to the family finances requires compromise and communication.

Understanding your partner's money personality

Your money personality—how you feel about money and the way you manage it—is a product of your upbringing and your life experiences. It was formed over many years and is unlikely to change significantly after you become an adult. Couples who understand this also understand that trying to convert one’s spouse is an exercise in futility. Instead, work on a compromise.

Here are some things counselors say couples should do to reduce conflict and to reach their financial goals.

Communicate

It's important that you talk about your finances. Throughout your discussions, remain open-minded rather than insisting that your partner do things your way. As you talk, make agreements to compromise. An agreement gives you the right to get your partner back on track if he or she veers from what was agreed upon.

Set goals together

It's crucial that couples set common goals. First, make separate wish lists and then, together, rank the items you both feel are most important. Some goals should be at or near the top of every couple's list. These include paying off nonmortgage debt and saving for retirement. Revisit your goals at least annually and make adjustments based on changing priorities and finances. 

Maintain individual accounts

One solution that works for many couples is to have a joint account as well as personal accounts for each partner. Use the joint account to pay household expenses, including mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance, and car and home repairs. If there's money left over, split it into personal no-questions-asked accounts. Use the money from these accounts for individual wish-list goals. For a spender, that might mean paying for a dream vacation. For a saver, it could mean beefing up an IRA (individual retirement account).

Check in with each other at least once a month—more if there have been problems—to re-evaluate and, if financial circumstances warrant, change the discretionary spending amounts. For the joint account, let the person who's good at money handle the bills, but sit down together to go over them regularly.

Get professional help

If you and your spouse reach an impasse, find a couple’s counselor or a financial planner to help you move forward.

For financial planning assistance or money management counseling, contact the professionals at your credit union. You also can find a nonprofit, accredited credit counseling agency through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

For couple’s counseling, check with your health plan or employee assistance program (EAP) to see if it covers counseling and to find a qualified, participating professional.

As you narrow the gap between your money management styles, remember that you and your partner are a team. For couples at opposite ends of the spender-saver spectrum, that means each partner has to inch his or her way closer to the center.

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Credit union informs: A family budget

Fri, Sep 13, 2013 @ 02:12 PM / by Erayne Hill posted in credit union, family budget, Unity One Credit Union

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Q: We really need to set up and stick to a budget, but I’m having trouble getting my family on board. What can I do?credit union family

A: It’s not uncommon: She’s a saver, he’s a spendthrift, or vice versa. But no one – even spendthrifts – really doubt the value of saving money for a rainy day. At the same time, no one wants to feel controlled, and no one wants to be the one doing the controlling.

Getting family spending on track takes more than just one person. It needs the support and participation of the whole family. So kudos for trying to get everyone on board.

One idea: Get away from the term “budget.” The word often feels negative, say some experts. Others who have tried to stick with a budget and failed report they felt like the budget controlled them, rather than the other way around. To maximize your chances of success, try these tips:

1.)    Call it a spending plan – and ask your spouse to help you create it. After all, he’s a lot more likely to    adhere to a plan he helped develop than to one he feels was imposed upon him.

2.)    Build in an occasional splurge. Just control it! Make it part of the plan. A movie, a dinner out, a weekend away – whatever it is. Some people blow it once and give up, thinking it’s hopeless. But if you plan for it, you will still stay on track.

3.)    Save for a goal. Some people don’t want to save just to save. But if they know they are saving for something specific and worthwhile, such as a down payment, or to become debt-free, and see progress being made, they are more committed to making it happen.

4.)    Get the kids involved. For example, tell them you’ll take them to their favorite restaurant, or a beach outing, once you reach a certain milestone. Track your progress on the refrigerator door, where the kids can see it. They won’t hesitate to remind you to stay on track!

5.)    Try online tools, like Budget Tracker. But keep in mind that some people just do better with an old-fashioned paper system! Whatever works for you, do it. Don’t get hung up on a particular tool or system. Focus on your goals, not the gadgets!

Above all, remember that perfection is the enemy of the good. A decent spending plan that your family accepts, and one they can start now and stick with, is much better than a perfect spending plan that no one else in your family will accept.

Unity One Credit Union is not only a financial institution but also your partner in life. Our staff is available to assist with you with the simplest of requests. Family communication, especially regarding money, is key to healthy relationships.

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