What Kind of Person Are You?

On the issue of money, I believe people fall into one of two basic categories:  people who like to spend money and people who like to save money.  Obviously, that is a broad generalization, and people fall somewhere on the continuum between Diamond Jim Brady and Silas Marner.  Unfortunately, if two people marry who are close to opposite ends of that spectrum, there’s going to be trouble.  Trust me…big trouble.

The first hint that John and I might have some compatibility issues regarding finances came fairly early in our relationship.  One day when he was writing a check, I noticed that rather than recording the exact amount of the check in his register, he rounded up to the nearest dollar.  When I asked him why he did that, he replied, “When my balance gets to zero, I know I still have a few dollars left.”  I didn’t reply immediately because the absurdity of the idea made it seem almost logical momentarily.  However, I quickly regained my senses and said, “If you wrote down the exact amount, you would know exactly what you had left instead of guessing.”

“What difference does it make if I know I have EXACTLY $3.00 in my account or I know I have ABOUT $3.00 in my account?” he countered.

“Well, if you needed to buy something for $2.99, you could do it without worrying about an overdraft,” I offered.

“If my balance is zero and I need something for $2.99, I will borrow $3.00 from my roommate and pay him back when I get paid,” he said.

“What about reconciling your bank statement?” I asked, my incredulity rising.

“When I get my statement, I write down whatever the bank says I have in my account.  That’s why they send those out,” he added for good measure.

It was too early in the relationship to reveal the full extent of my shock and horror at his shoddy accounting practices.  I mean, everyone has a dark side, and this wasn’t serious enough to ruin a budding romance, was it?  After all, I grew up with a father who thought owing money to anyone was probably #1 on the list of the 7 deadly sins, so I had some financial baggage of my own.

It was a good thing that I looked past his monetary indiscretions and focused on his positive qualities.  Otherwise, I would have missed out on this crazy ride that has been our marriage.  That’s not to say that working out our differences was easy, but I have taught him the importance of saving for the future, and he has taught me to loosen the purse strings and enjoy some of the finer things in life.  However, I can’t make a frivolous purchase without checking the price tag and doing a quick mental check of all the bills that have to be paid in the near future before I buy.  I also have to have a minimum amount of money in the savings account for a financial cushion before I can feel secure.  He can’t completely stop spending, and I can’t completely stop saving.  That’s just the kind of people we are!

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