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Study: Opposite financial habits attract

Marketplace Staff Jul 31, 2009

Study: Opposite financial habits attract

Marketplace Staff Jul 31, 2009


TESS VIGELAND: And finally, it is something of a cliche to say that opposites attract. You’re introverted, he loves to go out. She likes dogs, you prefer cats. Tomato, tomahto and all that. But you can now bank on the fact that financial opposites attract. And in fact, if you’re tight with money that might be why you married your big spender spouse. Are you getting this honey?

It’s all according to a study from a couple of professors, including Eli Finkel of Northwestern University.

Eli Finkel: We found that when looking at spending patterns, spendthrifts and tightwads tend to pair up.

And though singles say they would rather marry someone with spending habits like their own, they often don’t. Finkel says it has a lot to do with trying to address the pain we each experience. Tightwads actually don’t like spending too little money and spenders don’t really like spending too much.

Finkel: On those rare cases where we have a trait about ourselves that we dislike, those might be the cases where we would seek somebody who’s the opposite of us. So, if I’m somebody who spends a great deal of money and experiences some pain about it, I’ll dislike it enough in myself that I may well seek the opposite in a partner.

Of course, if you disagree on finances, the research also shows you may experience “diminished marital well-being.”

We asked some married folks in Washington D.C. and L.A. for their thoughts.

Woman 1: I’m more willing to spend on big ticket items that I think are worth it. He’s always like, “free free free, if possible!”

Woman 2: I spend money on things for the house, whereas he spends money on games and entertainment.

Man 1: My wife, she’s a little more free with spending money, because she likes to go with what I consider “nice to have” versus “need.”

Woman 3: He can be a little tight with money. I mean, not with money, but with other people. You know, getting presents, he’s like, “How much does that cost?”

Man 2: My pet peeve, related to my spouse? When she monitors how much I spend.

Woman 4: I think that I’m a spendthrift.

Reporter: And how about your spouse?

Woman 4: Tightwad.

Reporter: Does that create some problems, tension?

Woman 4: It does. So a lot of the times, I get my way though.

Reporter: Why do you get your way?

Woman 4: Because my point of view is better. And I’m the woman.

Reporter 2: Do you ever fight about money?

Woman 5: Yes, a lot.

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