Saver vs. Spender: Helping Couples Find the Middle Ground

Blaine Bowers |

In a recent Beyond the Number$, the monthly newsletter provided by Bowers Private Wealth Management, one of the articles discussed couples with different financial styles.  If you do not already receive Beyond the Number$, you can sign up by clicking here.

I wanted to dive a bit deeper into that article because this is an issue that I see a lot when dealing with clients.  I have found that couples often struggle to plan out their financial futures, or even to decide upon goals in the first place.  A great, and very simple, example of this is seen when planning whether to pay off of the mortgage, or invest more….or both.

When working with couples, very often I'll see one person that is a spender while the other is clearly a saver.  So, helping them to work together to find that middle ground is key for their financial future, but also critical for their sanity and the longevity of the relationship.

If you find yourself in a situation like this, rather than being afraid to discuss the issue for fear of argument, here are a few things to consider that can help be a guide to you….and of course, getting help from a CFP® can be a catalyst to help get you on the right track.

First off, to help prevent arguments and other issues, lay a few ground rules.  For example, make sure that you take a break and make a plan to reconvene in a few hours or even a few days later if your discussion starts to get a bit tense.  Compromise and simple communication are key to this whole process.

Consider carefully, both individually and then again as a couple these core questions: 

What is your main aim or desire when it comes to your joint finances?  Freedom?  Independence?  More security?

What are your savings goals?  Do you need to work to build up a reserve savings account?  Are you saving for a vacation or the down payment on a dream home?

How much money should you have reserved in savings?

How much income are you bringing in each month and what are you spending?  Is lifestyle creep a problem?

How do each of you feel about debt?

Do you set limits on how much each spouse can spend without talking to the other?

I would recommend revisiting a few of these subjects a couple of times per year when checking on your progress towards your goals that you've laid out in your planning.  You can certainly do this yourself, or you can seek the help of a CFP® that helps with these matters in a professional capacity day in and day out.  Either way, get started if you haven't already…..and what better time to start than the beginning of the year.