American husbands and wives both have reputations for
overspending. He can't resist the latest high-tech gadget. She
can't walk by a department store window without caressing her
credit card. But stereotypes aside, who is the real saver in a
A new survey conducted for MoneyRates.com by Op4G asked men and
women whether they prefer to save more or less than their spouses.
Not surprisingly, neither men or women generally perceive
themselves as the spending problem in their household -- and that's
just one of the disconnects in this data that might explain
why American savings rates are so low
He spent, she spent
There is no question that somebody is spending the money in
American households. Americans in this century have been saving
money at less than half the rate they did over the latter half of
the 20th century.
Failure to save is bad enough, but Americans are also building
up massive amounts of debt. According to the Federal Reserve,
consumer credit balances outstanding recently hit an all-time high
of $2.82 trillion.
So who do husbands and wives think is more to blame for this
problem? The survey results point to some things that suggest that
Americans are not acknowledging their savings problems and not
communicating well on
. Here are some ways husbands' and wives' perceptions about saving
money don't add up:
- Only a minority of those surveyed -- 37 percent of women and
26 percent of men -- report usually wanting to save the same
amount of money as their spouse.
- Neither men nor women think they are coming up short when it
comes to saving. Just 16 percent of women and the same percentage
of men say they usually want to save less than what their spouse
- In contrast, men and women often think they save more than
what their spouses prefer, with husbands perceiving themselves as
the real savings heroes. Forty-six percent of women and 58
percent of men say they usually want to save more than their
There are always caveats to surveys based on self-reporting, but
these answers are revealing when contrasted with hard data about
debt and saving in America. Neither husbands nor wives see their
savings habits as a problem, but the facts show that saving money
is an issue in most households.
Savings tips for couples
Saving money as a couple can be very different from saving money
as an individual. Here are some keys to being able to
save money while in a relationship
Plan for the future.
The first step toward saving is acknowledging that you have needs
beyond the present. If you are in a long-term relationship, then
start planning for the long-term by setting some money aside for
Communicate your priorities.
She may want a bigger house. He may want a flashier car. Most
budgets can't afford every extravagance, so you have to
communicate. Neither side should give in on every spending
decision, so each person will have to set priorities.
Keep savings together, and checking separate.
If there are two incomes, both husband and wife should be
responsible for contributing agreed-upon amounts to a joint
savings account and long-term retirement vehicles. Everything
beyond that amount should be kept separate, so each person is
clear on how much he or she has available for discretionary
Have a no-credit-balance policy.
It's no use saving money when there is a growing balance on
either spouse's credit cards. Credit cards are not only an easy
way to undermine your savings goals, but with credit card
interest rates at around 13 percent and even
accounts paying less than 1 percent, even a small credit balance
can negate the positive impact of saving money. Keep yourselves
on track by agreeing that all credit card balances should be paid
in full every month.
Be a coach, not a codependent.
Give positive feedback for positive financial behavior, and help
your spouse look at the bright side of spending less money. Love
does not mean allowing your spouse to indulge every whim, which
can be bad for you both in the long run.
The survey suggests that neither husbands nor wives tend to see
themselves as the primary problem when it comes to saving money,
but statistics on debt and savings rates make it clear that
Americans do have a serious problem. Like most things in a
relationship, responsibility for solving that problem will be
handled best if it is shared.