If you have a different money style than your partner – well, you're certainly not alone.
In fact, more often than not, we end up partnering with someone who has a contrasting approach to money.
That's according to Scott Rick, associate professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and author of a new book, “Tightwads and Spendthrifts: Navigating the Money Minefield in Real Relationships.”
“People with different approaches to finance can find each other interesting and innovative – but this can be complicated,” says Rick.
TRY THESE IDEAS FOR AN AFFORDABLE YET ROMANTIC VALENTINE’S DAY
On Valentine's Day, the spotlight on relationships can lead to a lot of expenses, as well as some uncomfortable moments.
Americans are expected to spend $25.8 billion this year on Valentine's Day, according to data from financial information site WalletHub. This makes it the third most expensive holiday on the calendar.
To survive this mid-February minefield, here are some tips.
DEVELOP THE ART OF GIFT GIVING
This is one of the biggest times of the year to give your partner a gift, so give it some serious thought and effort. Running to Walgreens at the last minute isn't enough. It can do more harm than good.
TIPS FOR A PERFECT VALENTINE'S DAY FROM A RELATIONSHIP EXPERT
“These are big moments where we reveal what we know and value in our partners, and it's very easy to get it wrong,” says Rick.
Gifts don't have to be expensive, but they do need to be well thought out.
“A good gift requires some sacrifice, so they need to know that it wasn't very easy for you and that it was difficult to find or think of.”
FIND YOURSELF CLOSER TO THE MIDDLE
It's completely natural for people to have very different understandings of money, due to how we were raised or the salary we earn. But if we are on the cheapskate or spendthrift side of the scale, we would be wise to moderate our more extreme tendencies.
TIPS FOR HOSTING A FUN AND FESTIVE GALENTINA'S DAY PARTY
“We find that with the best relationships, the ones that last, both partners bond a little over time,” says Rick. “You can't completely change yourself, but you can sand each other's rough edges.”
CREATE JOINT AND SEPARATE ACCOUNTS
A common mistake in serious relationships is thinking that you have to choose between having a joint account or separate accounts. False – you can have both.
A joint account is useful for covering shared expenses and establishing a fund of funds for mutual goals, like family vacations. Pooled funds can also help avoid conflicts over who contributes to each family expense.
Separate accounts can also be useful for a portion of our income, says Rick.
“We can spend some of our money without close monitoring from the other person,” he notes.
OBJECTIVE FOR FINANCIAL 'TRANSLUCENCE'
Do you want a partner who will look into every financial transaction you make? Probably not. After all, we are adults and we are individuals.
That's why full financial transparency probably isn't even desirable, says Rick. Instead, we should look for “translucency,” which is more like semitransparent.
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“You need to find a way to manage information – decide how much you want to share and how much you want to keep private,” he advises. “Some information may be available upon request. You don't need to be actively looking over each other's shoulders all the time because that will lead to a lot of unnecessary arguments.”
IDENTIFY YOUR OWN MONEY STYLE
As much as you should try to understand your partner's financial style, start from scratch: discover your own. Many of us haven't done the hard work to figure out what motivates us and why we feel the way we do about money.
Lucky for him, Rick has a test to help with just that. Once you understand yourself better, you can be more careful about matching money styles with your partner.
One final recipe for Valentine's Day: “Whatever you do, don't just ask them what they want,” says Rick. “Try to learn more about them and find out what they might like. Moments like these can profoundly shape the course of a relationship.”