Clark Howard: Team up or split up your bank accounts

Do opposites attract, or do you look for the same kind of person when it comes to how you handle money?

My wife and I are what I call the MasterCard logo couple. When we met 18 years ago, we were opposites with how we approached money. Over time, we have merged our ways and the logo has crossed over more and more.

In the best tradition of marriage, we learned over time how to compromise. I am not as cheap as I was, and she has learned how to be more careful with money. In our case, our completely opposite instincts work beautifully together.

But usually in couples you find people are attracted to those who have the same attitude about money that they do. Then they mutually reinforce each other, whether they’re savers or spenders.

I read in The Baltimore Sun that most of the time when you have opposites like my wife and I that it can cause tremendous tension in the relationship. In general, the more different you are, the more you fight.

Of course, it all really depends on how you handle negotiations. You have to communicate and have an understanding. Even if you don’t get what you want, you want to find areas of compromise.

Meanwhile, today you have a lot of couples coming together after they’ve already lived a little and gained some assets. My favorite way to handle that is to have money that’s “his, hers and theirs.” That means you have one central household account that each person funds every pay period or every month to pay basic household expenses. Then you also each have your own money to spend how you wish on everyday stuff.

Another approach might be to set a floor limit of spending so you can each have discretionary money. 

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark's website. And get more savings tips from Clark's previous blog posts.

-- Clark Howard -- Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs -- for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

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