It’s the month of celebrating love, but financial conflicts can dampen celebrations—and entire relationships. If you share finances with a spouse or significant other (or if you plan to in the future), you probably already know that you’re likely to have some disagreements. But if you understand each other’s goals, hang-ups and ideas about money, it will be easier to work together peacefully.
Each of you should take the quiz separately, recording your answers, then come together to review the similarities and differences in how the two of you approach finances. Use the results as a jumping off point to better understand each other and discuss the best ways to move forward together.
1. When I receive a bonus at work,
- I put it toward one of my long-term savings goals.
- I use it to pay off nagging debt.
- Bonus? What bonus?
- I splurge! It’s a good opportunity to treat myself or those I love.
2. I keep up with my money by:
- Maintaining detailed spreadsheets to keep up with spending, saving, and other accounts.
- Balancing my checkbook, the old-fashioned way.
- Checking my account balance online before making a purchase.
- Flying blind: If my debit card gets denied, I know I’m out of money.
3. When I shop in a store or online,
- I make a list and buy only the items on the list.
- I have a mental list and try to stick to it.
- I regularly purchase things I don’t need, but I always have fun.
- I always buy whatever I want.
4. My monthly budget is:
- A strict, rigid guide that governs everything I do.
- A basic skeleton for managing my finances, but relatively flexible when it needs to be.
- Adaptable and goes with the flow. If I overspend, I’ll catch up next month.
- What budget?
5. When it comes to debt, I think:
- Debt is unacceptable.
- The only acceptable forms of debt are mortgages, student loans and maybe car loans.
- I have a plan to become debt-free in the foreseeable future.
- Debt is unavoidable and I do my best to keep up with my payments.
6. When I purchase clothing, shoes, hair care products or other personal items,
- I rarely buy anything for myself.
- I don’t mind purchasing secondhand or discount items to save money.
- I want brand names but usually use coupons or wait for a sale instead of paying full price.
- I want the best that money can buy and am willing to pay the price.
7. I tend to stretch my budget on:
- I never stretch my budget.
- Household items.
- Gifts or outings for others.
- Clothes, shoes, sporting equipment or other things for myself.
8. When I need to make a large purchase,
- I save up until I have the money to buy the item I want in cash, even if it takes months or years.
- I buy a cheaper version, such as a used cell phone, computer or car, to avoid waiting to save up.
- My income is enough that I can usually buy what I want without waiting to save.
- I use credit cards to buy what I want when I want it.
9. When I use a credit card,
- What? I don’t use credit cards.
- I pay the bill in full every month.
- I pay more than the minimum payment each month, but often carry a balance.
- I pay the minimum payment each month.
10. When I was growing up,
- I never worried about money.
- My parents talked to me about money and how to manage it.
- It always felt like we didn’t have enough money.
- My parents often fought about money.
First look at your own answers:
If your answers were mostly A: You are a disciplined financial manager; congratulations! Keep up the good work, but remember, if your finances are in order, it’s okay to enjoy yourself once in awhile. If your partner is not as disciplined as you, try to share your good habits, but allow for a little flexibility.
If your answers were mostly B or C: You probably have some positive money habits, as well as room to improve. If you find yourself carrying debt with no plan to become debt-free, or without an adequate emergency fund, or not enough money left at the end of the month, you need to make some changes. Consider working with your partner to establish positive money habits and get on stronger financial footing.
If your answers were mostly D: You may be making irresponsible choices with your finances, which can threaten your financial future as well as the health of your relationship. Consider talking with a financial coach or planner, as well as your significant other, about how to rethink and restructure your financial life and get on the right track.
Next, compare your answers with your partner’s and count how many of your answers match:
1-3 Matching Answers: Financial Face-off
You and your partner have significantly different approaches to handling money. The two of you may find it challenging to reach common ground when it comes to financial issues, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Take time to discuss your feelings about money and set some financial goals, working together to reach them. Be willing to learn from each other and look for ways to compromise. Consider talking with a financial advisor who specializes in working with couples.
4-7 Matching Answers: Money Momentum
You and your partner may have some money differences, but you also have found common ground. Be willing to listen to each other’s varying opinions: Each partner is likely to be stronger in some areas. Remember that just because you agree on a certain way of handling finances doesn’t make it the right way. Set financial goals together, and be open to the possibility of making changes in order to reach them.
8-10 Matching Answers: Financial Teammates
Congratulations! You and your partner see almost eye to eye when it comes to managing money. Capitalize on your similar views by having open discussions about finances and your financial goals. Just be careful: seeing eye to eye means neither person notices the flaws in the other’s method of managing money, so be willing to think critically about your habits as a couple and seek outside help if you need it to make sure you’re on the right track.