Saver Married to a Spender, Can it Work?

Photo by Joanna Nix on Unsplash

If you’ve ever read our blog before, you know we talk about more than investing and saving. We get INTO IT. Because money is personal, money is emotional, and money can affect every aspect of your life. That’s why we get real about things like who should pick up the check on a date, how to have tough financial conversations with your parents, and understanding and avoiding the most common money squabbles


Now we are tackling what happens when your financial priorities just don’t seem to line up with your partners. What happens if you’re a saver married to a spender? 


Here’s a common scenario we see as we help couples plan for their financial futures. 


Partner 1: I’m such a saver. I don’t like to spend my money frivolously. Our financial goals are super important to me and I regularly put away money because I want our future to be as awesome as possible.  


Partner 2: I think I save too, but I do like to spend money. What’s the point of living a life if you can’t actually live it? I don’t just want to save for our future, I want us to go out to dinner, see shows, and live our life now. 

Don’t just assume the spender is sabotaging your future, it might be that the saver is sabotaging your present! 

Partner 1 is clear that they are the saver and Partner 2 doesn’t mind being considered a spender. But here’s where this gets super interesting. When we actually dig into it and keep talking with them about how they prioritize spending their money, it often turns out that they are both savers and both spenders. And this is probably true for you, too. Whether you have a significant other or not! 


Hey savers, uncomfortable newsflash: You might actually be the spender! #ouch


It comes down to priorities.


That Uber home after a long day at work may seem totally reasonable to you, but your partner may see it as an indulgence if your company already pays for your public transit card. The fact that your partner doesn’t mind ordering in 3-4 nights a week may drive you crazy because it seems like an unnecessary expense, but the reality might be that neither of you has time to cook dinner and when you buy groceries they end up going bad and you order in anyway! 


If your #goals include a happy partnership it is essential that you learn to set goals together. Especially financial goals. 


Having shared financial goals helps mitigate the stress when it feels like your partner is over-spending or being stingy AF. If you’re creating a future together, you should have an idea of what financial milestones will help you get there. And get specific. Figure out how much that dream trip to Tulum is going to cost. Have an idea of what a splurge wedding might look like vs. an elopement (but, honestly, even elopements can get pricey these days). 


If you are the saver of the pair and you feel like your S.O. is constantly cramping your style and ignoring your shared goals, there’s a fix you might not have thought of before, unless you read our blog, then you’ll probably know all about it. It’s called a reverse budget and it’s all about automation.


When it comes to savings, the best way to make sure you are hitting your goals is to automate them. We know, we are a broken freaking record (if that analogy is even still relevant in 2019), but it’s just so damn true. If you want to level up your savings: automate, automate, automate. If you want to level up your relationship: communicate, communicate, communicate. 


Full disclosure, we are not relationship experts, but we have talked with hundreds of couples through this process. If you can learn to communicate with your partner about what you find valuable and worthy of spending your money on, you have a much better chance of aligning your financial goals. Bonus: when you understand why your partner is seeming to pinch pennies or splurge you will resent their behavior less. Afterall, your trip to Tulum might be at stake. Makes their penny-pinching seem much less frivolous, right?


Some of us are savers and some of us are spenders. Some of us live for our bottomless brunches and courtside seats and some of us get a thrill when we max out our retirement contributions. (Which you maybe don’t need to be doing, btw.) And some of us think we are savers and actually spend like crazy.


It’s not that savers and spenders can’t be compatible. It’s about navigating your financial priorities together and communicating so you can find understanding and compromise. 


Here’s the kicker, you won’t actually know who is cramping your relationship style until you set your goals and evaluate whether you’re on track to reach them. Once you set your goals and figure out how much you actually need to be saving to reach them then you’ll know who needs to loosen up. Don’t just assume the spender is sabotaging your future, it might be that the saver is sabotaging your present! 

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