Spenders and Savers: How to Cope with Differing Spending Styles

Couple discussing finances

When it comes to money, there are two basic styles: spenders and savers. These two lifestyles can be radically different, and if your partner has a different philosophy when it comes to finances, this can cause difficulties in your relationship unless both parties are willing to compromise.


“Savers tend to follow David Chilton’s [author of The Wealthy Barber] idea of ‘paying yourself first’,” says Craig Giesbrecht, Retail Sales and Services Manager at Cambrian Credit Union. They tend to stick to a budget, and put money away into their savings every paycheque. It is common for savers to maintain several different savings accounts for different things, such as a down payment on a home, insurance, or vacations. “Overall, savers are disciplined and set themselves up well for their future, but they may lack flexibility if there is an opportunity that comes up outside of their budget,” Giesbrecht says, noting that “there are opportunities to have debt work in your favour, especially in our low interest environment right now.”


Spenders are the opposite of savers: a spender tends to live for today, and it is common for them to live beyond their means. “A spender may not maintain an emergency fund, so in emergencies they live in overdraft protection or using credit,” says Giesbrecht. While spenders are great at getting what they want now, if they are not careful, their debt load can get out of control. Giesbrecht points out that “spenders can still be spenders if they pay themselves first and stay disciplined when it comes to important expenses”.

In a saver/spender relationship, compromise is essential, says Giesbrecht. “The ‘saver’ should encourage the ‘spender’ to regularly put money away for common goals,” says Giesbrecht. The ‘spender’ may also encourage the ‘saver’ to loosen the purse strings a little bit from time to time in order to “live life now”.

Regardless of your philosophy on money, it is important to be open and transparent with your partner regarding the status of your finances. “I’ve seen situations over the years where one person is not honest about their debts, and it is a very uncomfortable situation,” he says.