You’ve probably heard the statistic that the number one thing couples fight about is money. But have you ever wondered why that is? Sure, it can often be a stressful topic to discuss – but why exactly is it so hard to talk about? A large part of the struggle comes from the fact that there are different financial languages that each of us speak. We all have our own view of money and what we like to do with it. Most of the time, within a couple, the two people speak different financial languages. It’s difficult to agree on money related issues when you don’t see eye to eye.
Even if you don’t know anything about financial languages, you’ve seen them working in action. You’ve probably seen a couple that didn’t agree on whether or not to buy something. Maybe one person couldn’t go without their daily trip to get coffee, and the other person was frustrated with this constant expense because they didn’t think the cost was worth it. Those are two different financial languages clashing, and before the couple even realizes it, they’re in the middle of another argument.
So, what are these financial languages? In her book, 4 Financial Languages: The Secrets to Communicating About Money, personal finance expert Tarra Jackson explains that the four financial languages are Saving, Spending, Investing, and Giving. We’re going to break down each language and give a picture of what each one looks like within a relationship. When you understand which language(s) you and your partner speak, it will be easier to figure out where your disagreements come from and how to solve them.
Someone who is a Saver strives to save money (obviously). This person wants to feel secure in their finances and the fact that they have enough money. There’s no better sight to a Saver than seeing that they have a good amount of money in their bank account. It may seem like Savers are greedy because they just want to stockpile their savings, but there’s more to them than that. People who speak this financial language care about saving because they want themselves and their loved ones to be secure in life.
If you are a Saver:
You probably find it easy to save money and hard to spend it. Even if you decide to buy something you want, it may be difficult to really enjoy it. You like to find new ways to save money on things, and you’re always looking for the best deals. Over time, this infatuation with saving may annoy your partner, or even hurt their feelings. Make an effort to remind your spouse that they are more important to you than money, and that you want to save because you want to have a secure future for the two of you. Also, remember that saving can’t always come first. If your spouse wants to spend more money than you’re comfortable with, it’s important to sit down and talk through both of your viewpoints.
If you are married to a Saver:
You might constantly be frustrated with how much your spouse cares about saving. It’ll be important for you to understand their reasons for being a Saver, and also be able to tell when they’re taking it too far. You are a team for a reason – you have the power to rein each other in when needed. A good way to communicate about something you’re buying is to ask your spouse to help you find the best deal. This will allow them to bring their strengths to the table and feel better about the purchase.
These names are pretty self explanatory – so of course the spender enjoys spending their money. This kind of person takes great pleasure in buying the things they want. Shopping can easily become a coping strategy for the Spender. If they have a bad day, it’s likely they will turn to shopping as a way to feel better. Spenders find comfort in spending money, usually on material items. Not only do they buy for themselves, Spenders also enjoy buying things for others.
If you are a Spender:
You don’t see any harm in treating yourself and buying the things you want sometimes. You’ve probably made it a habit to buy certain things that bring you joy, like a latte and muffin at your favorite coffee shop. Although others see that constant spending as a waste, you know these costs have value to you. When you and your spouse don’t agree on your spending, remember that sometimes you’ll have to compromise.
If you are married to a Spender:
You may run out of patience if you don’t agree with how your spouse wants to spend money. You may assume that your partner has a disregard for money by wanting to spend more often than you. It’s important to not judge, but instead talk through it and try to understand your partner’s perspective. Try sitting down together and creating a budget that works for both of you. Setting parameters for spending will help your spouse from feeling like they can’t spend anything.
You could say that Investors are somewhere between the Savers and Spenders. They don’t try to spend or save all of their money; instead they tend to be focused on investing in things like stocks, business opportunities, and education. Investors are willing to take some risks to increase their wealth. Much like Savers, they enjoy watching their money grow. But, they also see value in spending their money on certain things that will benefit them later on. If Savers are one extreme and Spenders are the other, Investors are somewhere in the middle.
If you are an Investor:
You are always on the lookout for opportunities that will give you some sort of return on your investment. Spending money on things you consider unnecessary might make you feel like you’re wasting your hard earned money. If your spouse is a Saver, you may have to remind them every once in a while that spending money can really be worth it.
If you are married to an Investor:
Your partner’s determination to find value in every transaction may get old after some time. When this happens, try to remember their “why”. For most Investors, they do what they do because they are trying to provide the best financial circumstances for their family. They want everything they pour money into to pay off for themselves and their loved ones. Keeping this in mind, you may still have to remind them that it’s okay to buy the “unnecessary” things sometimes.
Those who are Givers gain satisfaction from sharing their wealth with those around them. They enjoy helping people by giving their time, money and resources. If you’ve ever been around a person that seemed super happy to give or buy something for someone else, they were probably a Giver. People who speak this language view their money and resources as a way to help people, especially their loved ones.
If you are a Giver:
You view everything as an opportunity to help someone. You’re the kind of person that will find cash on the street and return it or give it to someone who needs it. If you have any extra money or time, you’ll probably give it to a loved one or a cause that could benefit. All of this giving may mean that you don’t have much savings at the end of the day. If your partner is always encouraging you to keep some of your resources for yourself, try not to view them as greedy. They probably just want to ensure that you are taking care of yourself, on top of all the people you usually help.
If you are married to a Giver:
You know that your spouse has really good intentions with their giving. In fact, you love that about them. But sometimes it may seem like they care more about giving to others than taking care of the resources you share together. Instead of assuming they don’t care about being financially stable, talk with them about it. You’ll probably find that they usually go straight to giving, so they haven’t thought of things that way. Creating understanding with your spouse is always the best thing to do.
No matter what combination of the financial languages you and your partner speak, there is hope! If you both speak a different language (which is very likely), have confidence in the fact that you can use your differences to complement each other. If you and your partner both speak the same financial language, you may not run into the same problems as other couples, but keep in mind that you may both have the same weaknesses.
The key to navigating the often murky waters of finances is communication and understanding. No matter which combination of the languages you are, it’s essential that you each explain where you’re coming from, and seek to understand the other person. When you come from a place of understanding, you stop assuming and attacking (which is probably everyone’s least favorite part of arguing).
When you understand your partner’s financial language and how it works with yours, you can open the conversation to many more topics that need discussing. If you aren’t married yet but expect to be sometime soon, it’s never a bad idea to discuss whether a prenuptial agreement would be the right thing for your relationship. So, with your fresh knowledge of financial languages, open the line of communication and keep talking it through!
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].