Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Compensating for Your Money Personality

When my wife and I were young, we were very frugal. I recall walking around for over a month with the same ten-dollar bill in my pocket. We’re less frugal now but still having a hard time transitioning from workers who save to retirees who spend. Fortunately, we’ve found some ways to compensate for the aspects of our money personalities that aren’t helping us any more.

In my case, I fuss over spreadsheets that show we consistently underspend our safe monthly allowance. This gives me constant reminders that I’m no longer an 18-year old kid who doesn’t have enough money to eat lunch.

In my wife’s case, she feels the pain of every expenditure. This is particularly true if the expense seems extravagant, like eating out. To compensate for this, I pay in almost all situations where we’re together.

This wasn’t a revelation of mine; my wife knows herself well enough that she’s the one who wants me to pay. In fact, I might not even have noticed this pattern if she hadn’t pointed it out. She says thinking “it’s all free for me” helps her enjoy the moment without fretting about money.

We’ll never completely pull free of our financial natures and early-life experiences, but we’ve found some ways to compensate.


  1. As a single guy, I find I have to get myself out of my frugal self and try and make myself spend on things. Sometimes, it's worthwhile paying for quality, or just paying for the convenience of having what I need, when I need it, instead of shopping around or having to organize things. I've more often regretted not buying/spending than the purchases I've made, even when they weren't optimal in every way.

    Sometimes I wonder if being frugal hasn't made me come off as cheap or poor, which doesn't help with (some) ladies.

    1. @Anonymous: Frugality is generally a good thing, but some of us take it too far. My wife and I are in that category, and it sounds like you are too. Something that helps me is to try to take into account more than just dollars, such as time spent doing things I don't want to do, convenience, and other factors that matter. For small things, I often do what is called satisficing: just taking the first acceptable option and not wasting time and effort trying to find the perfect choice. An exception would be if I'm actually enjoying the process of deciding and it isn't taking time from something else I'd rather be doing.

  2. So, if I can get my WIFE to buy me that convertible I've been wanting, then it's not really spending on it then.

    I like this website more and more every day. :)

    1. @Anonymous: Whatever gets us past our financial hangups :-)