A Spender, A Saver...Where's the Bliss?

November 10, 2017

Have you ever looked at a couple and wondered why they have so much stuff and you don't? While they're dining at gourmet restaurants in Harbor East and vacationing in the Bahamas, you're clipping coupons for carryout and taking your “stay-cation” at home in Hampstead.

What are you missing? Do these people know something you don't?

I have been fascinated about money since I was little, if for no other reason than I am the youngest of four and wanted whatever my siblings had. If they had an allowance, I wanted one, too.

If my sister had cool guess? jeans, I wanted a pair. But my mom wasn't about to overpay for denim. “You have to save for it,” she’d tell me. And so I discovered the magic of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and Filene's Basement. I would get what I wanted; it just took some resourcefulness.

When I got to college, it was a whole new ballgame of spenders and savers, and I had to find those who were in my “league.” That provided a huge life lesson about relationships as I met different people and figured out who I wanted to hang with. My closest girlfriends, then as today, were those with whom I shared spending habits—and, subsequently, stories and memories.

Once I started dating, similar story: who was I attracted to? The Spender or the Saver? Sure, it's fun at the beginning to splurge on dinners, concerts, and weekends at the beach. But a year later, it's almost always inevitably going to be BYOB with a corkage fee and free concerts in the park.

The question here is how to blend those two impulses to find relationship bliss.

The key is moderation. You can have date night every weekend, it just may not always be at a five-star restaurant—completely doable, I’ve discovered, as many diners serve up yummy goodies. Other nights, buy the ingredients and make that paella or beef bourguignon together. That way, you can anticipate your date, enjoy spending time together, and save some cash.

But by all means, every once in a while, if you can afford it, indulge. Every couple needs to have a fun afternoon or night out, as well as time to decompress and enjoy a meal without interruption. Otherwise, you might begrudge each other and the relationship.

Here's another suggestion: give each other a monthly allowance. Try it for a few months, starting at 10 percent of your combined net income. If the two of you bring in $4,000 a month, you would each get $200 a month for coffee, lunch, shoes, makeup, highlights, golf, whatever you wish. What you don't spend at the end of the month, you roll over to the next month.

If you overspend consistently, it might be time to think about needs versus wants.

We need our highlights for work, self-esteem, and inner peace. We want lunch out, coffee drinks, new makeup, and treats from Target. Brown bag your lunch and make your coffee at home.

My husband and I do a monthly allowance, and to keep myself on track, I use a software program called Quicken that allows me to monitor my monthly expenditures and stay conscious of bills. Tedious, yep, but enlightening, too! (Quicken is also great to find out when you bought the TV/vacuum/lawnmower that just died and see if it's still under warranty.) I actually now have 23 YEARS of spending tracked in Quicken. (too much information, perhaps)!

It's crucial neither to judge what the other does with his or her allowance nor hide what you do with yours. I have seen relationships where one partner racks up credit card debt and isn't honest about it, creating a level of distrust and bitterness that can be very draining on a family.

So, if your guy wants to blow his entire month's allowance on golf, a gym membership, or music, fine. I may spend that much on a blouse or a great lipstick (yes, there are many shades of red), and I know I don't want to hear any gasping out of him! (You may be delighted to find out how he spent his allowance on you, too, by the way; that's also allowed.) BC

Annie Morrison is an independent advisor representative with and securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. Zuma Financial Advisors is located in Reisterstown, MD. Email her, at annie@zumafinancial.com, or call (443) 468-3280.

This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended tax or investment advice.