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Illustration: Lauren Rebbeck

Spender or Saver? How to Handle Conflicting Money Habits

Read these expert tips and learn how to have a healthy discussion about money within your household.

My husband is a spender. He likes to buy expensive things for himself and the kids, but I would rather put that money aside for their college fund, or a family vacation. He gets upset if I bring up the topic. Any advice?

Audrey Morrison, president and financial advisor of Cairn Financial Advisors, shares the following tips:

We all have different approaches to money based on our personal “money history.” We learn from our parents’ attitude toward spending, our childhood experiences, and early memories and feelings. Because people can get defensive about their own money habits, it’s important to start these conversations.

As a couple, spend some time trying to understand each other’s history—experiences that may have led to current spending habits. Be vulnerable with each other, to help open up the conversation to listening and hearing. A good starter question is: “What is your earliest memory of money, and how did it make you feel?” This can lead to powerful insights.

Once you gain a better understanding of each other’s approach, work through a Money Allocation Exercise together—it’s a practical strategy for getting on the same page and ensuring your needs are met. Look at your calendar, and schedule a day on which you can spend some time looking at your family income. Choose a time when you are both rested and positive, then allocate money to specific “buckets” for the following:

This way you will feel more secure knowing that a monthly deposit is being made to savings for family goals, and you will both have money to spend without needing permission or feeling judgement from the other partner.

You can also get your children involved in saving for joint goals like a family outing or vacation. By working together and teaching your children positive money habits, they will develop a healthier relationship with their finances for life.

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