Are You a Spender or a Saver?
- Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Pulling out groceries from the bags my husband Russ had just brought home from a store, I began to feel tense. He had bought much more than I usually did, and many of the items were unnecessary extras.
“What are we going to use all those gourmet sauces for?” I asked, gesturing toward a group of jars he was stuffing into our pantry.
“Oh, I don’t know yet, but I’m sure we’ll come up with a recipe for them,” Russ replied cheerfully. “They look interesting.”
Russ nodded and kept unpacking groceries.
I walked into our living room and rummaged around inside a cabinet until I found some videos he had bought on impulse from a gift shop on a family vacation several years before. Then I waved them dramatically in front of Russ as I exclaimed: “Remember these? You said there were interesting, too! They seemed interesting enough for you to spend nearly $100 on them years ago. But the kids have never even watched them!”
“We’re going to use these sauces!” Russ declared defiantly, waving a jar in front of me as dramatically as I’d waved the videos in front of him.
“Even if we do, they’re a waste of money!” I retorted, picking up the grocery store receipt from the kitchen counter. “Look at this! The groceries cost more than twice as much when you shop as when I shop!”
“That’s because you just buy the basics! You should be glad I bought more for us!” Russ exclaimed, holding a jar of sauce like it was a championship prize.
“You should be glad I save our family money!” I declared, unfurling the long receipt until it stretched down toward the floor.
Suddenly, it hit us how ridiculous we were being to use props to make our points to each other, and we ended the argument with laughter. But the frequency of our arguments over money was no laughing matter.
Ironically, we were in complete agreement on all of the basic biblical principles of money management. We tithed to our church and gave generously to charity. We stayed completely out of debt and avoided other unhealthy financial practices, like gambling. So what was the problem? It came down to personality differences. One of us (Russ) had a natural tendency to spend money, and the other (me) had a natural tendency to save money.
Spenders and savers often marry each other, because couples are frequently attracted to personality differences that can complement theirs. But while God’s plan is for spouses to use their differences to become stronger together than they would be apart, those differences can cause great conflict if spouses haven’t yet learned how to work them out well. This is especially true with financial differences, since money is the leading cause of marital conflict.
A North Carolina State University study from 2008 (“Financial harmony: A key component of successful marriage relationship” by Carolyn Washburn and Darlene Christensen) showed that “most couples find finance to be a primary cause of conflict.” The couples surveyed for the study listed money as the cause of conflict in their marriages more than any other cause, with 39 percent reporting that money is the primary reason they experience conflict with their spouses, and 54 percent saying that money is a secondary conflict cause in their marriages.
If you’re in a marriage between a spender and a saver, the good news is that you and your spouse can learn how to decrease the amount of conflict and increase the amount of trust between you. Here’s how:
Pray. Every day, ask God to empower you both to have attitudes that will help you work out your differences and build trust between you as you manage money. Pray for help developing attitudes of humility, respect, kindness, patience, grace, a willingness to learn from each other, and a desire to serve each other.
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