Scott and Bethany Palmer, better known as The Money Couple, have devoted their professional lives to helping couples build the communication skills needed to make smart financial decisions together. Scott is a Certified Retirement Specialist and a Certified Senior Advisor. Bethany is a Certified Senior Advisor and holds several licenses through Lincoln Investment Planning. They are both popular motivational speakers who have appeared on programs such as Good Morning America, ABC News NOW, and ABC radio.
First Comes Love, Then Comes Money
Scott and Bethany are the authors of First Comes Love, Then Comes Money: A Couple's Guide to Financial Communication. While many personal finance books focus on dealing with issues such as getting out of debt, making a budget, or planning for your retirement, the focus of First Comes Love, Then Comes Money is financial infidelity. Financial infidelity can involve behaviors such as having a secret bank account, taking out loans that your partner doesn't know about, or attempting to control your partner by limiting his or her access to household funds. It is a betrayal of the trust that is the foundation of a successful marriage.
According to The Money Couple, financial infidelity is the number one cause of divorce. Their goal is to provide a plan for couples to start communicating honestly about their spending and their financial goals.
One of the key concepts in First Comes Love, Then Comes Money is that each person has a money personality that influences his or her views on what is the best way to manage money. These personality types are created by early childhood experiences and natural tendencies that aren't easily changed. According to The Money Couple, understanding the motivation behind your money personality type and your partner's money personality type will help you develop a financial plan that meets both of your needs.
Understanding Money Personalities
Recently, LoveToKnow Save spoke to The Money Couple about how understanding money personalities can better help couples plan for their shared financial future.
LoveToKnow (LTK): Is one money personality "better" than the others?
The Money Couple (MC): There are five money personalities:
- Saver - Hates spending money. This may describe someone who finds money in a coat pocket and leaves it in there.
- Spender - How fast can money leave the wallet? This person finds money in his or her coat pocket and immediately heads to Starbucks to spend it on something, anything!
- Risk-Taker - These are the entrepreneurs, inventors and trail-blazers within us. They are willing to risk it all to have it all.
- Security Seeker - These folks have their future planned and paid for. They have their ducks in a row and all things thought out.
- Flyer - Money, what's that? These people simply fly by the seat of their pants and don't really think much about money.
Every person has a distinct way of thinking about and dealing with money. In a relationship, those distinctions can be the difference between being on the same page about financial issues and having money be a constant source of conflict. When a couple learns to view money through the eyes of their spouse or partner, intimacy in the relationship will grow. When couples understand the money personalities that make up their relationships, the fighting stops and the compromising can begin! There is no right money personality and no wrong personality. Your money personality is your DNA; it is who you are. Don't try to change yourself or your partner.
LTK: If partners have different money personalities, how can they learn to get along?
MC: Research shows 65% of couples opposite marry their opposite money personality. This fact often does not show itself until the relationship is well on its way. Two of the major personality conflicts happen between the Saver and Spender.
The Saver tends to freak out when her partner spends on something she deems frivolous. In her mind, things like flowers are nice for a day or two, but then they die and all you have left is a bill for $60. If this sounds like you, then for the sake of the relationship, do your best to look at the intention behind your partner's romantic gestures. Recognize that for some money personalities, gifts are a way of showing love and thoughtfulness. Before you launch into all the reasons your partner spent too much, say thank you. To prevent problems in the future, set a budget for special occasions so you don't have to think about it anymore. Knowing you have made room in your budget for romance not only gives your partner the freedom to show you love without worrying about a backlash, but might just encourage you to do a little splurging on him as well.
Spenders love to shop! The rush of finding just the right something for his partner is part of the fun of special occasions. If you're a Spender, you know exactly the feeling we're talking about. But, if you want to romance your beloved, you have to recognize that all the champagne and roses in the world will fall flat if they create stress in your partner. That's what spending does to Savers; it stresses them out. It might sound strange to a Spender, but if you really want to woo your Saver partner, show her that you've taken her money personality to heart and are willing to make changes because of it. Instead of buying two dozen roses, buy one dozen. Instead of a big meal at a fancy restaurant, cook her a wonderful meal at home. Find ways to give experiences instead of things. You can fill your need to love on your honey without using up all your money.
Whether you're the Spender or the Saver, remember that sometimes a little understanding and compromise can be the most loving gesture of all.
Agree to Disagree
LTK: When you disagree with your partner about money, how can you make sure you're fighting fair?
MC: Money touches each and every aspect of our relationship: where we live, where we eat, where our kids go to school, etc.... Money discussions can easily turn into money fights. If we are going to fight about money, we better learn how to fight fair. Here is a tool you can apply to each money struggle.
Use our acronym F.A.I.R.
- Forgive - Commit to your future financial communication. Don't dwell on the past. Admit to your financial infidelity. It's a great place to start.
- Assess - Know your money personalities. Determine how these money personalities are affecting this money struggle.
- Input - Each give a suggested solution.
- Respect - Make a thorough compromise.
LTK: In your experience, does income level matter when couples disagree about money? Do high-income couples disagree more or less than low-income couples?
MC: Often we hear from couples, "If there was just more money, we would not fight." We also hear, "We never fought about money before we have as much as we do now." The fact is that the money is not the issue! If you have a solid financial relationship when you have a little money, you will not fight about money. If you have a solid financial relationship when you have a lot of money, you will not fight about money!
We are led to believe that the perfect financial plan will bring financial harmony into our home, but the fact is that if you and your partner have transparency with your finances, if you stay consistent with your money meetings, and you continue to make your financial relationship the priority, your relationship will flourish.
LoveToKnow Save would like to thank The Money Couple for taking the time to share their personal finance knowledge. To learn more about their upcoming projects, please visit The Money Couple website.