Chelsea and I sat at a local café. She stared at her coffee cup lid. “All my husband and I do is argue about money,” she said. “It’s like something happens to my words in the space after they leave my lips and before they enter his ears. I tell him I want us to start a budget; he hears that I want to take away all his fun. Something has to change.”
“When it comes to money, what’s your first instinct?” I inquired after sipping my own cup of coffee.
Without hesitation Chelsea responded, “Every dollar has its place and should be spent intentionally.”
“What about your husband, Justin?” I asked.
“Total opposite. Justin’s never met a dollar he wanted to keep around. He buys lots of ‘toys,’ and they’re not cheap. Then, I’m the one left alone at the table with a stack of bills.”
Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a situation similar to Chelsea and Justin’s. Money matters rank among the top sources of relational tension. Anyone who’s been married longer than the time it takes for the credit card or utility bill to arrive understands that no two people approach money exactly the same.
The seven money types
We’ve heard that opposites attract. When it comes to money, this is almost true, but not quite. For there to be an “opposite” way to approach money means that there are essentially two polar opposite money extremes, which some call savers and spenders. However, there are actually seven unique ways in which people relate to money. I call them the seven money types. These seven money types influence the way you spend, save, give and argue about money. Chances are you’re in a relationship with someone who approaches money from a different money type and that is causing some financial relationship tension. Understanding your money type — your core money motivation — as well as your partner’s is an important first step to getting on the same page financially without losing what brings you joy when it comes to money.
The seven money types are modeled by seven biblical characters. By understanding your money type, you’ll grow in awareness of why you and your spouse do what you do when it comes to money, and you’ll also be positioned to resolve challenges. Here I’ve briefly described the seven money types:
The Abraham Type — Hospitality: This type uses money hospitably to make others feel special and noticed.
The Isaac Type — Discipline: This type believes money should be maximized.
The Jacob Type — Beauty: This type thinks money is for making beautiful experiences or purchases.
The Joseph Type — Connection: This type uses money to forge connections and network.
The Moses Type — Endurance: This type is highly structured and organized with money.
The Aaron Type — Humility: This type is sacrificial with money and uses it to meet needs.
The David Type — Leadership: This type is a financial leader and is all about the financial future.
Four traits that will improve money communication
Want to harness the God-given power of your money types? Developing the following four communication traits may help you and your spouse find financial unity:
Curiosity: Become curious about your partner’s core financial story. Ask about his or her financial realities during the growing-up years. Inquire about financial hopes or fears. Discuss the seven money types and inquire which one resonates with him or her the most. Knowing your partner’s core financial story — both financial inhibitions and dreams — helps you penetrate the often-hardened exterior that partners bring into the relationship regarding finances. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Empathetic Honesty: Scripture teaches that Jesus was full of grace and truth. You and your partner must lovingly tell each other the truth about how spending patterns and financial attitudes and actions are affecting each of you. Start by affirming the good in your spouse’s relationship to money and the goodness you see in his or her money type. Next identify the events or behaviors that are causing tension and explain how you can understand why he or she made a particular decision. Then, share how that particular financial behavior makes you feel.
Space: Boundaries in budgets help ensure that money is spent intentionally, but boundaries also present the opportunity to designate money that each partner can use to achieve his or her own financial goals. Space gives permission; it says that each person’s desires are important and that money type motivations matter. Each type enjoys using “play” money in different ways. When financial space is not given, a spouse may feel stifled and spending priorities become a sore subject.
Synergy: When couples allow their money types to work together, not only can they reach their financial goals, but they can also achieve a level of relationship capital that transcends monetary value.
I hadn’t finished my cup of coffee before I understood that Chelsea approached money from a Moses money type perspective, while Justin embodied the Jacob type. Because Moses types love financial order and Jacob types love to use money to make beautiful purchases and experiences, it was not surprising that this couple was butting heads over finances. Neither money type is better than the other, and Chelsea and Justin needed to learn the strengths and potential downsides of each type.
Chelsea and Justin studied the seven money types together and had an open and honest conversation about their respective money types. Justin was able to see what financial order meant to Chelsea and how his spending habits were causing fear. Similarly, when Chelsea realized that not everyone loves budgets and spreadsheets and that Justin’s Jacob-type tendencies could be embraced within boundaries, she found a little more “play money” in the budget, and Justin agreed to try to live within those boundaries.
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