A tale of Spenditude and making decisions in a relationship. Money attitudes are called your Spenditude. When these hard-wired attitudes collide in a relationship there is a mis-matched Spenditude. It happens in far too many partnerships.
We develop our Spenditude early in our childhood. There are three types of Spenditude- Spenders transact with no guilt, Defenders hate waste and crave financial security, Slenders are somewhere in between – occasional spender and regular money worrier.
Imagine a Spender and a Defender are in a relationship. The Defender fell for the Spender and their exciting lifestyle. The Spender loved the strength and commitment the Defender showed to planning a good life. Until their money attitudes became the problem. Spender buying too much crap. Defender becoming more of a tight arse.
The topic of money became more taboo as the relationship went on. Instead of mutual dreams and goals – there was a great divide. The elephant in the room becomes a permanent tenant and that tenant is the unspoken money discussion.
Drip, drip, drip. The divide grows. Unspoken dissent for the spending attitude of the partner. “It would not kill you to just buy dinner rather than dissect the bill” or the other side, “another mindless purchase online of stuff we don’t need.” It festers.
Without intervention, cracks are forming. If only these two had a common Spenditude, a common ground. It is not difficult, but requires a formula which is based on the Defenders ‘value equation’.
This is where the Toaster comes in.
A spender goes to buy a toaster. The first toaster they see is a fancy colourful one at $250. It will warm your muffin on a Sunday morning, amongst other special toasting options. A solid addition to any kitchen. Spenders rarely do their homework so the $250 price becomes the anchor point.
A Defender walks into the same store, with a plan. They have applied ‘the value equation’.
Value = (Performance x Time)/Price
For toasters… Performance = all toasters cook toast. Time = most of them last 5-8 years. Price = wide range from $30 to $400+. The equation tells the Defender that most toasters are similar. The decision is then focussed on price.
As a couple, neither can understand the way the other approached the purchase. Both are frustrated. The Spender is keen on the first one - it’s on sale, an inviting purchase. The Defender has found one for a quarter of the price - it looks like it will meet their needs. Who wins?
If the Spender agrees to the cheaper option, ‘Bingo, I’ve got $150 left to spend!’. The Defender placed no weight on the $250 price tag and just wants to go make some toast!
To expand on the equation, some purchases come with a bigger price tag.
In Winter, the equation for heating becomes more about performance. Those fancy heaters that you can put your hand through get the attention of both the Spender and the Defender. Both hot and cold making it useful all year round, and a long term warranty (time). The performance feels superior and safer, with an air purifier might help with the kids’ asthma too. The differentiator in this case is not price.
What if the couple had a discussion before entering the store? They use the equation to develop a common Spenditude.
‘Let’s buy the cheaper toaster and invest in a good heater’. It works on most spending and can be the referee for disputes. Have it plastered on your fridge. Seriously, it is a partnership saver.
In C-19 times this equation is even more dramatic and effective as we are isolated. You can only imagine some of the money arguments that have taken place since February.
Anyone for toast?
Paul and Janine delivered Financial Wellbeing programs during the Global Financial crisis of 2008 in Australia. Their insights from that time were the inspiration for their book “Spenditude - a life changing attitude to money.” Paul and Janine aim to empower people of all ages, stages of life and income levels to release financial anxiety and improve their Spenditude for the better. Real Aussie Modern Elders.