Saving: Making Money Work in Your Relationship

"We even have the same taste in food and movies. But when it comes to money, Robert and I are on opposite sides of the universe."

Robert laughed in agreement. "Say the word 'payday' to me and I think of a night out, a trip to Mexico, new snow skis -- that kind of thing. Say the word to Nancy and she thinks mortgage and utility bills."

Nancy and Robert are not unusual. Maybe you've noticed that when you and your spouse or significant other discuss money, sparks fly or feelings smolder. Not only do many people have different (and conflicting) money styles, but money means something different to each of us.

As Many Styles as People

Maybe you spend freely and he is a penny pincher; maybe you know where every dollar goes and he's lucky if he can find a bill in his pocket. You feel comfortable with stocks; he wants Treasuries or CDs. Perhaps you make financial decisions easily, quickly and sometimes impulsively, and he has analysis paralysis and can't bring himself to make a decision until forced to do so.

When Nancy and Robert sat before me, I could see their struggles. To Nancy a paycheck symbolizes safety, comfort, and security; to Robert it was permission to venture out, to be stimulated by the new and exciting.

The Four Money Motivators

If I ask 20 people about what money means to them, I get 20 different responses: trips to Tahiti, kid's college tuition, power, sexiness, tummy tucks, freedom, security -- and yes, even happiness.

What I've found is that our money personalities or styles are shaped by early experiences and how our parents handled (or didn't handle) money. When we become adults, our individual quirks, biases and beliefs cluster into primary themes.

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