Discussing Your Money Attitudes

Many people are thinking about what they might do with the extra money that they are going to get during tax time. Financial experts do not always think getting a refund is the best idea. They believe it’s better to keep your money each month and invest it yourself rather than letting the government use it for a while.

Nonetheless, approximately eight of 10 tax filers get a refund each year. But what do people do with their “extra money?” Some things people do is pay off debt, save, take a vacation or make a large purchase. But why do some people spend and some people save? Could it have anything to do with their attitudes about money? And what happens if your partner disagrees with your ideas? Could it be he or she has a different attitude about money?

One of the main causes of couple conflict is the question of how to save or spend money. Many of their attitudes and their habits are a result of their personalities or learned from their families. Often individuals have great goals to use their money for one thing and end up not reaching their goal because they spend the money on something else.

According to Syble Solomon, creator of the game Money Habitudes, there are six different habitudes a person may have concerning money. A “habitude” is the habits and attitude one has about money. The six habitudes are selfless, free spirit, security, status, targeted goals and spontaneous. Each of the habitudes are used by individuals to determine how they use money.

A person who is considered selfless has a desire to use his money to help others. He would rather give his money away than use it for his own needs. He feels good when he is giving to others.

A person who is a free spirit does not view money as a priority. She tends to just let life run its course. If she has money she spends it. If she has a friend that needs it she will give it away. She often runs out of money for her responsibilities because she is not careful to manage it.

A person who has the habitude of security is very careful with his money. Having money makes him feel safe and secure. These individuals usually have a savings account and are very careful about how they spend their money. Others often consider them cheap and not much fun.

On the other hand are those with the spontaneous habitude. They use their money for fun. They tend to be impulsive and unconcerned with the consequences. They are the risk takers and often are not very good at controlling spending.

A person whose habitude is status uses money to present a positive image. She tends to give extravagant donations or gifts. She enjoys seeing others’ reactions to gift giving. She tends to get into debt because she wants to impress others. She also can be under stress because she feels the need to keep up with others.

The final habitude is targeted goals. The individual with this habitude tends to use money to achieve goals. She tends to have a budget and savings and set realistic goals. She may have trouble when something unplanned comes up and it did not fit into her plan.

None of the habitudes is right or wrong. The most well-rounded people have a little bit of all of these habitudes about money. They can have fun, but they also understand the importance of giving and saving.

Problems in couple relationships may arise if they have vastly different habitudes — for example, one sees “extra money” as a time to spend and one sees it as a time to save. That is why it is important to understand yourself and your partner and then determine what compromises need to be made.

When deciding what to do, remember if you save all the money you make but never enjoy it with loved ones, you may be missing out on life’s blessings. It also holds true, if you spend every dime you make and don’t have a savings in case of an emergency, it may cause a lot of unneeded stress.

There is balance in all that we do, so if you get a tax refund this year, consider what your habitude may be concerning money, and if you have a joint refund, consider the other person’s habitude also. Then sit down and discuss how you can best use your money wisely.

Cheryl Kaczor is an assistant professor for West Virginia University Extension Services and is a families and health agent in Marshall County.

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