Spending Your Refund Every tax season many Americans receive a refund from the government. But the dispute always remains on how to spend the money. Dr. Sherman gives you tips on how to come to an agreement on you tax refund. BY DR. KAREN SHERMAN
Gabriel Lefrancois, hitched
Now that you've got your money from Uncle Sam, how should you spend it?
Every year at tax time my husband and I fight about how to spend our tax return. This year, I want to use it to fix up the house and he wants to invest it.
Well, we’re right smack in the middle of tax season and many of you will be facing a very similar and taxing question: You’re delighted to find out that you’re getting a refund and so, what will you do with the money?
Most couples seem to have difficulty when it comes to talking about money. It’s one of the two subjects that make each person feel very vulnerable. (The other, of course, is sex.) Finances probably should have been discussed before you got hitched, but again, a lot of couples don’t tread there.
It’s not at all surprising that you would each have different expectations about how the extra bucks are going to be allocated. And there is no absolute about which one is the correct choice.
Let’s first look at why you might each have a different outlook. It may very well be that you just have different money styles. I break them down into six types:
Hoarder: sees money as a means of security
Spender: feels like they deserve to spend because they most likely experienced a sense of deprivation as a child
Binger: a combo of the hoarder and spender
Worrier: distraught about every financial situation
Money monk: sees money as the root of all evil
Money master: sees money as a practical tool for living and handle finances well
How do these different styles evolve? One notion comes from the way you were raised. Remember, you each came from different upbringings. How financially comfortable your family was and how monetary issues were handled in your family of origin are likely to vary. What you saw as you grew up laid the foundation for what you do in your marriage.
Of course, the problem arises when you have different money styles. The only style similarity that might bring on a concern is if both of you are spenders, but don’t have the finances to back you up. So what do you do if you have differing styles?
I have found with the clients with whom I work that it sometimes helps to direct them to consider what each is experiencing at a more emotional level. In your case, for example, does your husband’s desire for investment represent an underlying need for security? And, is your wish to use the money to fix up the house because you feel your needs have been put on hold too long?
Clearly, this is a topic that needs discussion. So let’s review the ways you can make it the most profitable:
Each of you takes a turn speaking openly about why you would like to spend the money as you would.
Be willing to receptively listen to what your partner has to say about their needs, remembering to stay non-judgmental.
Think about whether an expressed need can be met in a way that doesn’t require spending the money, i.e. if you feel your needs have been put on hold too long, perhaps some non-expensive pampering would suffice.
Consider dividing the money up and allocating it to serve both sets of needs.
Know that having a discussion like this is really like putting money in the bank!
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is co-author of Marriage Magic! Find It! Make It Last.