Are mom and dad a money-match made in heaven? These five questions will help you find out. Ask your spouse to do the same and then compare. Did you fall into the same financial category? If not, it’s time to start planning some money meetings!
1. You’d really like a larger flat-screen TV. You …
a.) Buy the biggest one you can find and put it one of your credit cards (your American Express, because your Visa is already maxed).
b.) Start putting away $50 each month. After a few months, when you see flat screens on sale at Target, you buy a set.
c.) Look at the prices of 54-inch screens and decide your 32-inch isn’t that bad.
2. Your boss is impressed with your work lately. He gives you a one-time, $1,000 bonus. You …
a.) Take your family to dinner at a nice restaurant, then plan a vacation to Disneyland (even though the trip will cost more than the bonus).
b.) Treat your family to dinner at Famous Dave’s barbecue, then pay off some outstanding bills. You even have a little money left to put in savings.
c.) Immediately funnel all of the money into your IRA. You even add extra from money you’ve saved from your weekly grocery budget.
3. Opening your most recent Visa bill, you discover that you spent more this month than you budgeted. You …
a.) What budget? You add the excess amount to your already ballooning balance, figuring you’ll even out in a few months.
b.) Cut expenses on other costs, like your entertainment budget, to make up for it. You plan to do better next month.
c.) Hyperventilate. Then, you decide to stop buying anything until you have the amount paid off in full.
4. Your husband just found out his work hours are being cut. You …
a.) Figure that’s part of the down economy and keep shopping as usual.
b.) Look over your budget with your husband to figure out how to trim costs.
c.) Decide the family can survive on beans and rice and cut all costs to a minimum, even though you have savings to cover the lost wages.
5. You’ve decided to start holding weekly money sessions with your spouse. At the first meeting, you…
a.) Go on a walk to discuss your financial goals. You end up at Starbucks, order lattes and talk about visiting the Bahamas for the next family vacation.
b.) Meet across the kitchen table. You mention areas where you think you could trim weekly costs. After 30 minutes, you agree on a few steps, like skipping dining out. Next week, you plan to meet at the same time.
c.) Have a detailed discretionary/non-discretionary spending list and printed-out budget proposal. Your meeting lasts two hours and your spouse nearly falls asleep midway through.
Tally it up
Give yourself 1 point for each "a" answer, 2 points for each "b" answer, and 3 points for each "c" answer.
5-8 You’re a spender – and you have the credit card balance to prove it. When talking to your spouse, you might get defensive about your spouse’s efforts to reign in your freewheeling financial ways. Try to identify why you’re so set on spending, even when you don’t have the income to keep buying.
8-11 You’re a compromiser: Sure, you may need to work on saving more, but you’re good at balancing life and finances. You are more open to saving, but you’re also willing to listen to a spender’s point of view. Since you’re open to discussing different financial styles, you and your spouse should be able to start your money discussions without many arguments.
13-15 You’re a saver: In fact, in some economic terms, you’d be considered a tightwad. While your effort to save is admirable, be careful about becoming so rigid that you don’t enjoy spending now and then. You might have a tough time not criticizing your spouse’s financial style, especially if you’re married to a spender.
Remember, no matter what your financial habits, your goal is to work toward cooperating with your spouse to build a solid fiscal future.