It's time to recognise the "I'll be happy when..." syndrome!...
Money, Men And You
You might be surprised recent research has found many women are attracted to men because of their high-earning power. The chaps were viewed as particularly good "catches" if earning £50,000+ annually. This seems ludicrous in an age where most women work, a number earning more than the men they date. However these findings demonstrate the ingrained belief that money equals social-value, and that equals power. Whether or not a woman needs a man's money, because surely she should earn her own, power’s still an aphrodisiac.
It explains why women are attracted to men like Bernie Ecclestone, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Donald Trump. Needless to say it wasn’t their looks. You may not be an international-supermodel and able to land such a plutocrat, but working down the high street this research suggests you might succumb to the pulling-power in a man's earnings.
Considerations about money are important to relationships as money-matters feature in a third of divorces. So putting aside the apparent "allure" of a high-earner, what's important is your outlooks to money. People approach finances in different ways and it can be an explosive combination if your partner approaches it differently. This is because our attitudes to spending/saving, shaped early in life, are extremely strongly held beliefs wherever they fall on the big-spender to big-saver spectrum.
The Four Types Of Money-Minded Personalities
From years of talking to hundreds of people I’ve identified four main Money-Minded personalities. Read each profile to identify yours, and that of your partner's if in a relationship.
A/ Super Saver: Overly cautious with spending. May be considered extremely "tight". Is never generous even when gift-giving. Always has a savings account or three (!). Very cautious about investments - even missing out on good deals through caution. Probably had parsimonious parents and lived in constrained circumstances due to their parents’ penny-pinching.
B/ Sensible: Careful, but not cautious, when it comes to spending. Likely to have a savings and/or pension plan but will spend occasionally on "extras" or luxuries. Plan ahead for any weather but would never be accused of being “tight”. Probably from a family that had a well-planned life with a home, mortgage, cars and holidays that weren't extravagant.
C. Splurger: May occasionally over/binge-spend. Likely to have one or two credit card debts. They know they shouldn't overspend and can pinpoint circumstances underlying spending sprees. Recognise when they’ve gone too far and try to bail themselves out. When on an even-keel they’ve the best intentions and might save. May’ve come from a family where the parents gave mixed messages about finances or the parents themselves occasionally over-splurged. Childhood might’ve been shaped by occasional panics about finances.
D. Super Spender: A constant over-spender who’s always in trouble. Often have larger-than-life personalities that go with their larger-than-their-bank-balance spending. No idea how to save or have a goal in terms of financial intelligence. Unless they get help, or rein in their worst impulses, they’re likely to go bankrupt. The majority had a parent/s unable to control their spending. Their childhood would’ve been insecure with regular money worries.
Differences in money-minded personality types will pull you apart if you don't communicate and compromise. Whether initially attracted to someone's earning power, or not, you still need to negotiate potential problems. Here are five financial “must-dos” to help negotiate the money-minefield whether you’ve different or similar attitudes to finances.
1/ The Little Things Count! In the first flush of love/dating it’s hard to raise money matters. People feel embarrassed. But it's important right from the start, e.g., in deciding who pays on dates or if you share costs. Be straightforward about these matters. If it continues to feel awkward discussing such issues you’re setting up future problems if together in the long-term. You lay down positive foundations if you confidently discuss finance when it arises.
2/ Budgets Are Good! As your relationship deepens budgeting issues become important. One of you may have higher out goings, e.g., a higher mortgage. Together decide who puts in what towards making purchases that benefit you both, e.g., leisure pursuits and holidays. Negotiate spending when going on holiday together and where one has more disposable income. Don't be pressured into spending more because your partner earns more. State what your budget is and stick to it.
3/ Honesty Is Best! Honesty/openness about your finances becomes increasingly important as things progress. Secrecy about money causes insecurity. If either of you is “secretive” it’s best to know why since some use this as a way of controlling a relationship. Be brave and sit the secretive partner down. Calmly describe your worries and ask why they, e.g., hide credit card receipts. Once difficult emotions are in-the-open they’re easier to handle.
4/ Negotiate Compromise! The sooner you start to compromise over expenditure the more you protect your future together. If one of you is a Super Spender and the other a Super Saver it works to sit down regularly, discuss budgets and compromise. If a big expenditure is coming up, e.g., buying a three-piece suite and the Super Spender wants a luxurious one, looking through the reality of bank balances in black and white can help stifle their impulsiveness.
5/ Compartmentalise Money Worries! If you’ve any money difficulties don't let these seep into the rest of your relationship, draining away the fun and harmony you have in other areas. Keep your boundaries clear. If you, e.g., disagree over whose family to visit at the weekend don't throw-in the argument about money you recently had to fuel the flames.
Ultimately if you decide to marry/cohabit it’s worth considering professional legal/financial advice. Many wouldn't want a pre-marital agreement. However they do offer protection for particular sets of circumstances. Working together like this means that money issues won't work against you.
Published in The Express Newspaper
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