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Jul 27, 2017

Why Does My Spouse Spend So Much Time Worrying About the Market?

By Byron Ellis

We all have a history and carry some baggage. I am talking about money baggage. Many things helped shape our baggage: our parents, our parents’ jobs, their parents’ history with money, our first jobs, our economic condition, etc. Face it, we all look at money in different ways.

So what if you, or your spouse, agonize and stress over your money and the markets? Do you know anyone like that? There is a couple that we work with that has this issue. He is the worrier. Every morning the first thing he pulls up is his portfolio. After coffee he digs into his financial plan. Then he comes the latest market news. Repeat this 5-10 times a day. For years, his wife has not understood his obsessive behavior. She sees it as unneeded stress that carries over into their relationship…until they both figured out what kind of money baggage they had.

You see, if you break things down to the simplest level, we typically have a dominant Money Mind®. At our firm we have every client take a short quiz to help us determine what their Money Mind® is. The three different ways we think about money are:

  • Fear – A fear-based Money Mind® is the most common that we run into and in most cases it is a healthy way to look at money. A fear Money Mind® is always thinking about the future. They are good savers. In fact, when they have money they tend to think they should save it. This attribute has helped many of you prepare for your future. However, as it is with all of these traits, if you have too much of something it could be bad. Too much fear could lead to stress, worry and frankly a large amount of unspent money on the death bed.
  • Commitment – A commitment-based Money Mind® thinks about others. I call this one the trait with the big heart. The first inclination of a Commitment Money Mind® is to help others by giving their money to loved ones. I typically see this manifest itself when parents help their children. I also see Commitments give worthy gifts going to churches, schools and good causes. How could giving away money turn negative? When you give away so much it hurts your own financial situation. It could also have negative implications when a parent enables a child to the point of crippling the child.
  • Happiness – The third type of Money Mind® is all about fun. A happiness Money Mind® gets a dollar in their pocket and is on the hunt to buy something. They get pleasure from purchases. A shiny new watch or a new purse may fit the bill nicely. This person can also get pleasure by paying for experiences or travel in addition to buying things. It may seem obvious that if someone spends too much money on things this could crimp their future financial success. But, I see the opposite of this in many retired couples. Too much fear without enough happiness can lead to not doing things in life that could have been done just in case something happens down the road.

So, back to the couple with a Fear based husband. I was visiting with his wife after they had completed the quiz that determined that he was Fear dominant and she was Commitment. She shared with me that for the first time in her life she now understood his obsession. He was wired that way and it was not really a fault of his but a need and desire to take care of the two of them in the best way possible. She now saw the good that a fear based person can bring to the stability of a home. She still gets a little annoyed when the morning coffee conversation steers toward stocks and bonds, but she has an easier time giggling at that fear based person drinking coffee with her and admits to having a little comfort level that he is actually looking out for her future.

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