You know what your partner’s favourite book is, you’ve seen their favourite film several times (possibly with varying degrees of enthusiasm!) and you know more about their food likes and dislikes than is healthy. But do you know what they think about money? It may be obvious – unopened final demands, an impressive collection of credit cards or a fondness for totting up the value of share investments every day – but it might be harder to assess.
Find out how compatible you are
If you don’t know good you and your partner are at managing money, take this quiz to find out more. Each of you should do the quiz and then compare the answers. You might be surprised! If you and your partner have a very different approach to money, it’s not the end of the world, but it is worth being aware of at the outset.
SAVVY TIP: Generalisations can be dangerous, but men and women can have different ideas about how they manage their money or what they think their money is for. The important thing is that you and your partner can compromise, not necessarily that you’re twins when it comes to your approach to finance.
This quiz is based on one I included in my book aimed at helping couples make better money decisions, called Financial Bliss.
1. Your bank statement arrives. Do you:
a) Shred it without opening it. Aren’t banks always telling you to shred personal documents?
b) Shove it in a drawer and promise to look at it later, but ‘later’ never arrives.
c) Open it immediately. You know pretty much what it will say anyway.
2. You’re at the shops and you spot a pair of shoes/ iPod speakers that are nothing less than objects of beauty. Do you:
a) Buy them. You can always cut down on something else next week.
b) Strike a deal with fate. If they’re still in the shop next week, you’ll buy them. You were obviously meant to have them.
c) Work out whether you need them and whether you can really afford them. You know that this week’s must-have can be next week’s mistake.
3. You’re at the same shop with the same lovely pair of shoes/iPod speakers. This time you’ve got no money. Do you:
a) Still buy them. That’s what credit cards were invented for.
b) Raid your savings account — even though that’s money for your holiday — and buy them.
c) Wait until payday before you go near the shops again. If you still want the shoes/speakers and you know for sure you can afford them, you’ll buy them.
4. You’ve had a long day at work and you’ve just realised there isn’t much food in the fridge. You’re also on a tight budget. Do you:
a) Ring a couple of mates and go out for a meal. Friends are more important than money anyway.
b) Buy a ‘gourmet’ ready-meal in the supermarket and a bottle of wine. After the day you’ve had you deserve a treat.
c) Spend a couple of pounds on ingredients and whiz up something in your kitchen.
5. You’ve got a pay rise. The extra money amounts to about £150 a month after tax. Do you:
a) Start spending the money in your mind. There are a few things you need right away.
b) Use the extra £150 to reduce your credit card debt. That pay rise has come just in time.
c) Spend a small amount on a treat (lipstick or a DVD) and put the rest towards your savings or increasing your pension.
6. You’ve booked a holiday and it’s only a few weeks away. Do you:
a) Spend the next few weeks buying new outfits/sunglasses/gadgets.
b) Decide you don’t need anything, but then spend several hours at the airport buying books, sunglasses and duty free gifts you won’t use.
c) Work out what you can afford and set aside a treat budget. It’s got to last you the whole holiday though.
7. You are out for a meal with your partner. It’s not a special occasion, just a chance to spend some time together. S/he decides to order the wine and chooses an expensive £30 bottle. Do you:
a) Happily drink it. You’ll make sure they pick up the tab as well.
b) Spend the rest of the evening scowling. It’s not that you’re mean but £30 on wine for goodness sake!
c) Explain that you’d rather opt for something cheaper and keep the expensive wine for when you’re feeling flush.
8. You receive a small inheritance of £5,000. Do you:
a) Spend it on anything that catches your eye. That’s a lot of clothes and gadgets!
b) Spend it on the holiday of a lifetime. Life is for living.
c) Save it. That £5,000 could buy you a new car in a few years’ time, or just give you more ‘rainy day’ money.
What were your results?
You probably have lots of fantastic qualities, but being good with money isn’t one of them! The problem is that you will eventually have to settle your bills and that could be a hard day to face. If you can be honest with yourself about your attitude to money, the next step is to take responsibility for your decisions. If you can’t do that, you may struggle if you and your partner take on joint financial commitments.
You make some good decisions, but then undo them by going on a spending spree. You have some money in your savings account (even though you don’t know how much interest it’s earning) and you don’t automatically get your credit card out at every opportunity. But you’re not completely confident and you don’t always feel in control. If you tackle your finances head-on so that you make better decisions, you’ll be able to be clearer with your partner about what your own priorities are and where you’d like to be — in financial terms — in the future.
You’re definitely top of the class when it comes to your money. It’s good that you’re aware of the real cost of borrowing money and that you have to check your savings accounts to get the best rates. You also understand the importance of budgeting and realise how easy it is to waste money on ‘treats’. You know you’re in charge of your money, which is how it should be.
But make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of expecting your partner to match your own exacting standards, or becoming miserly in reaction to their spending.
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