BOSTON — In married couples, it is axiomatic that one spouse is a spender and the other a saver.
My theory, tested at dinner parties, is that a spender needs the discipline of a fiscally responsible spouse, although he or she would rather die than admit it.
Spenders see life as a smorgasbord - lots of earthly delights to be sampled. Savers find themselves uncomfortable with the whole materialism gig.
My survey shows that opposite financial types attract, making for trouble. For example, before marriage, the spender may buy thousands of dollars worth of stereo equipment or luxury bed linens with impunity. The saver may bulk up on retirement dollars or follow the Dow. But once married, each spouse needs to temper his or her natural inclinations.
In my marriage, I am the quick draw with a credit card. My husband keeps me honest by insisting that we pay off the bill each month. I would spend more on clothes, gardening, antiques, hobbies, and eating out if the money were all mine. Richard would rather take vacations and squirrel away money for retirement.
I instinctively knew I needed to marry someone with a stronger drive to save money.
Although spenders hate to admit it, some limits are good. We are the people for whom automatic paycheck deductions for IRAs were invented. We are the ones who, if left to our own devices, would be eating cat food in our golden years.
It's a two-way street, however. Richard will admit, if pressed, that I have helped him loosen up and see there are some things in life worth having. Up to a point.
By the way, has anyone seen my Mastercard statement?
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