Episode 59 with “The Money Couple,” Scott and Bethany Palmer
Scott and Bethany Palmer have
been financial advisers for more than 20 years and they’ve turned their focus
to relationships and money, even developing a set of money personalities that
we each have. They argue that knowing your partner’s and your own money
personality can save a lot of distress and miscommunication in the future – as
well as set you up for a healthy financial future.
So, if you’ve always wondered why
it was hard to talk money with the person you love the most, then get Charged
up! about our Valentine’s Day special episode – learning yours and your loved
one’s money personality!
Bethany and Scott, thank you so much for joining me today.
Scott Palmer: Oh, our pleasure.
Bethany Palmer: It’s great to be here.
Hoff: So I think Valentine’s Day is a good time to talk about love of course,
but also how our financial viewpoints can affect it. You wrote a book “The Five
Money Personalities: Speaking the Same Love and Money Language.” I can’t wait
to delve into your insights, but first I want to talk about your own history
with money and how you guys ended up joining forces to be the money couple.
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. So Bethany and I have done
over, oh, goodness, I think we’ve both been in the financial planning industry
for over 27 years. And so we came at the money side like most, but then you
throw the fact that we’re a couple and that we have to deal with our own
finances and communicate.
And we actually kind of have a
crazy situation where we have a couple in that we were working with their
finances and they were very well to do, college planning was done, the house
was almost paid off, they were in no debt.
I mean, all those boxes were
checked, and they were all really positive. And they came in and as we were
viewing things there was just so much tension in the room, like you wouldn’t
believe it. And so we look at each other, Bethany and I are looking at each
like, “What’s going on?”
So finally I just said, “Are
you guys OK? What’s going on?” And she said, “Actually we’re
getting divorced and we really need your help splitting up these assets and telling
us how to work this out.”
Hoff: Oh, wow.
Scott: And so after Bethany and I pulled our jobs off
the table, because that was the last thing we were expecting out of this table.
We spent the next 20 or 30 minutes doing that, and at the end of the
conversation I just said, “I just have to ask this question – why are you
getting divorced?” Because in my mind I was naturally going to, oh, who’s
got the addiction? Who cheated on who? What happened?
And they said, “Well, it’s
the money. We just can’t get along about the money.” And I’m looking at
their portfolio going, “You have plenty of money.”
Bethany: It was just crazy. And one of the things that
we always think is if you have a lot of money then you’re not going to argue
Bethany: And that really set us on a journey to say,
“What is going on here? Why aren’t couples agreeing about money?” And
we dug in a little bit more and we’ve discovered that 70% of divorces are over
And then we dug a little bit more
to say, “Why is that? What’s going on?” And we discovered that it
doesn’t matter if you make $30,000 a year or $3 million a year, couples are
arguing about money all over the place and it’s because they view money differently
– money impacts just about every decision that we make, and whether we like it
This morning I went to go put gas
in my car and I had to decide do I want high-grade or mid-grade or low-grade.
There’s a money component to that.
Our kids went up to school, and
were they going to have hot lunch or were we going to brown bag them for them?
We go for lunch, are we going to go out to lunch or are we going to just bring
it in? There’s just a money component to just about every decision, and the challenge
is that couples don’t see eye to eye on those little every day money decisions
and that’s what’s tearing our relationships apart is because they don’t have a
way or a method to be able to see eye to eye when it comes to money.
Hoff: Absolutely, and it’s interesting because we hear about love
languages a lot, and do you speak the same love language? Do you show your love
in the same way? And that can really disrupt a couple’s communication styles if
it’s radically different.
And so you guys have the five
money personalities, how did you guys come up with these five money
personalities, and can you describe each one for us?
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. So, when let me just kind of
tell you how we came up with them, because basically what happened was when
Bethany and I had this experience with that couple, that night we were at home
and we were just like, “What happened there?”
And we try to go out at first and
try to find resources or try to find a way to pinpoint this, and we couldn’t
find anything. So what we started doing was we started interviewing any couple
that would talk to us about their money. We just started interviewing; we
started talking to our clients.
And what we did was we started
compiling all of this data, and we actually gave it to a statistical scientist
from Stanford. And, he basically compiled this data that we had and that’s where
the five money personalities was created. And then what we basically did was we
put it into an assessment.
So you can actually go to
themoneycouple.com, and take this assessment, it takes about eight minutes to
take. And it very specifically gives you your primary money personality and
then your secondary money personality as well.
Bethany: And what we found, and the reason that we did
this was because we were seeing couples have these differences but we didn’t
have a label for the differences. And it’s really hard to figure out how to get
along about money if you don’t have a way to label your differences.
And then it was funny, before we
had the assessment made we would go to speak about couple and differences and
the many personalities and things, but then couple would be arguing about what
each other’s money personalities were. And we’re like, “You got to be
kidding me. All right, let’s put an assessment together to take at least that
argument off the table.”
So it really has been great. And
one of the things Scott said is he said, “It identifies your primary and
your secondary.” A lot of people just go, “Oh, yeah, well, I’m a saver.”
Well, OK, but what happens if your secondary is a spender?
Bethany: So you are a primary saver, secondary spender.
Hoff: That’s me. You guys, this is funny.
Bethany: There you go. That’s confusing to be managed
to. Because on one hand you want to save money all the time, but on the other
hand you want to give gifts to everybody or whatever your situation is, who you
are. So the secondary is so absolutely crucial to combine with your primary to
be able to understand your quadrants if you will of your four money
personalities between both of you.
Scott: It’s interesting, we’ve had just really
organically people coming to our website, we’ve had over 125,000 people take
this assessment so far.
Hoff: Oh, wow.
Scott: And what we’re finding with the couples, we’re
finding that 80% of couples have what we call an opposite dynamic in their
relationship. And the opposite dynamic is for instance Bethany and I are both
primary spenders, so when it comes to spending money we don’t really have a lot
of friction in our relationship.
Bethany: Yeah, we love to give gifts.
Scott: We’re gift givers. But secondarily she’s a
risk taker and I’m what we call a security seeker. So Bethany’s willing to take
risks, I on the other hand I have to have a plan for everything, like when we
go on vacation I’m dialed in, there is a plan for everything. You can ask me
any password for our life insurance, our credit card numbers, anything; I’ve
got all that stuff memorized because I have to have a plan.
So, in our relationship she was
always wanting to go out there and taking risks, and I was the no guy in the
relationship. Everything was no all the time.
Bethany: Yeah, so I had this idea like let’s buy the
piece of land or something like that, and he’d be like, “No.” And
after a while what happened is that I stopped sharing my ideas because I don’t
want to hear no all the time, so I don’t share ideas, I just keep them in my
head or talk to a friend about them or whatever.
And that’s what starts tearing
the relationship apart and you start drifting away, because I’m not sharing
with him big part of who I am, and that part is all shut off and you don’t even
know why. It’s just kind of this natural thing.
And after a while I don’t want to
hear no so I just don’t do it. It’s not that I’m being mean or I’m trying to
withhold things from him or something, it’s just that I don’t want to hear no.
Hoff: Right, you don’t want to hear no and had to cause conflict there.
Scott: Right. And that’s what happened in so many
relationships and that’s what we’re seeing in relationships is once again -
what is the number one reason for divorce? It’s money. How many money decisions
do we make in a day? Probably 30 or 40. So if money is already the number one
stressor in relationships, and the 30 or 40 decisions that we’re making about
money our significant other doesn’t agree with, no wonder it’s the number one
cause of divorces.
Scott: It’s not rocket science here. So part of the
reason that we created these money personalities was because we wanted people
to be able to quickly idenstify the differences in their relationships, and
then be able to understand the other person. I’m big in just situation and
Bethany is big in the self-evaluation, and that you can’t be good for somebody
else unless you know who you are.
But once you know who you are and
you understand who they are good, then it gives you that kind of AHA moment
where you go, “You know what? You’re not crazy. I think you’re still
partially crazy, but you’re not completely crazy when it comes to money. You’re
just acting the way that you are.”
Scott: And it’s interesting with these money
personalities because you brought it up a little bit earlier in our
conversation, you said, “I’ll be interested in knowing how these money
personalities evolve.” And we believe that money personalities don’t
evolve, you are born a specific way, your money personalities are your DNA,
it’s who you are.
And although like Bethany and I
are primary spenders, and we’ve learned not to just throw caution to the wind
and spend money all the time, we do save for retirement, we have life
insurance, we’ve done all that important financial planning stuff. We’ve both
been spenders since we could walk. And where we proved this was with some case
studies with kids and Halloween candy.
And what we did was we observed
and we had a huge group of our friends observe their kids with their Halloween
candy and how they either consumed it, they saved it, they traded it, they had
a plan with it or they gave it away.
And what we found was that even
as parents we can try to influence our kids to how we think they should be, but
the reality is they have their own money personalities. And being able to speak
into your kid’s money personalities is also important.
So these money personalities in a
lot of ways kind of rule the world, and definitely rule our relationships not
only with our spouses but also with our kids, and our parents, and our
Hoff: Right, all of our relatives and friends. So I want to jump into
what these five money personalities are, and what are their main characteristics.
Bethany: Sure. What I’ll do is quickly go through them,
but I just cannot stress how important it is is the combination of the two. And
if you think about it, so there’s five money personalities, but there’s
actually 20 combinations. So a lot of times what people do is they try to make
things super simple and just focus on their first one but they can’t.
So the first one is the saver, that’s the person who saves,
saves, saves, and an interesting thing about savers is they don’t want to just save
for themselves, but they want other people to save too.
So for example you go out with
someone and they’re talking all about this good deal that you can get on let’s
say camping equipment or something. They I want you to get that good deal too;
it’s not just them, so savers are all about saving.
Spenders are all
about spending, they love to spend money on themselves. But they also are huge
Scott: You know those people that you say don’t bring
a gift to the party and they bring a gift anyway?
Bethany: So they’re spenders.
Scott: That’s your spender right there.
Bethany: That’s your spender right there. So, saver,
spender. The next one is the risk taker.
These are the entrepreneurs of the world. They always have a new idea, this new
deal that they want to get into, that again, the entrepreneurs of the world.
The next one is a security seeker. Those are the
planners, huge planners, they seek security. That security is in that plan,
which is different than a saver. A saver just wants to save money; a security
seeker wants a plan.
And the last one is what we call
the flyer. They are people who fly
by the seat of their pants when it comes to money. Money isn’t the first thing
that comes to mind in a decision, relationships are, so they really are honed
in on relationships.
So you can have this combination.
You can be a saver-flyer, so you like to save money but at the same time relationships
are the most important.
Scott: I think a great example of a difference, so
I’ve got what we call the opposite dynamic, in that I’m a primary spender but
I’m also a security seeker. So this is how it plays out in me and how other
people with opposite dynamics are confusing.
When Beth and I go out shopping
I’m all into it. I mean, I love it. I’m having a blast. We’re spending money,
we’re hanging out together, it’s fun. Then on the way home I talk myself out of
every purchase I just made, especially if it wasn’t in the plan.
Bethany: If it wasn’t in the plan.
Scott: So I am not kidding you, I probably return
half of the things that I buy. That is because it didn’t match up with my
So it can be really confusing,
and now that I know and understand my money personality I look back and think,
“Man, I suck the joy out of shopping with Bethany for like the first 10
years of our marriage,” because on the way home I’d be like, “Oh, my
gosh, how much money did we spend? That wasn’t part of our long term plan. What
was I thinking?”
And it was confusing for her,
because she was like, “What the heck? We just had a great day and you were
fine, and then on the way home you’re freaking out.” So that’s why the
opposite dynamic and why we stress so much that you have to understand not only
your primary, but your secondary money personality.
When it comes to a saver and a
security seeker where the difference is, for instance, my boys and I ski on
most weekends and we were coming down a large highway called the 70. It’s very
steep and I had a blow out on my tire. Scared me to death. How we didn’t roll
my Suburban? I have no idea.
So the next day I went to
Discount Tire, and was shopping for tires. Now the saver would have had a
Groupon, a saver would have said, “What’s the difference between a 50,000- or a
70,000-mile warranty? I’m just going to go with the cheapest.”
As a security seeker I got the
most expensive Michelin tires made. They have a 70,000-mile warranty, they’re supposed
to best threads for what we do going to the mountains. I didn’t look at the
price. I just wanted the security of that tire, and the price wasn’t even on my
So that’s the difference between
a saver and a security seeker. Security seekers are always seeking that level
of security, as where savers are really looking at saving.
Bethany: The bottom line.
Hoff: Just the cheapest deal basically.
Scott: You got it.
Hoff: So what at least primary personalities tend to work best together
and which tend to clash the most?
Bethany: Well, it’s interesting, we have what we call
the opposite dynamic, which we go into quite a bit of detail inside of our book
“The Five Money Personalities.” But the short side of it is there’s five money
personalities, two on one side of spectrum – saver and security seeker. The
other side of the spectrum is risk taker, spender, and the flyer.
If you have one money personality
on one side of the spectrum and another money personality on the other side of
the spectrum, you have the opposite dynamic, meaning they clash.
And so, what we find toward the
relationship, on one side of the coin if you will we’re attracted to our
opposites, and money is no different. So in most relationships you’re going to
have some opposite dynamic stuff going on, absolutely no problem. If you don’t
identify it you will fight all the time.
We find that couples that have
more similarities in terms of their money personalities, you don’t have as much
clash. But should you get married or do not get married? I don’t think you can
say that, because really it’s good in a relationship to have some opposites
going on just simply so that’s just the spice of a relationship. I mean, that’s
just given. You don’t want to be two totally the same people, that’s boring.
But at the same time if you do
understand what your opposite dynamics are you’ll have less clash, less
arguments about money.
It was interesting, we’re listening
to a couple the other day and she said, “Why don’t you think that we argue
about money? We like hardly ever argue about money?” Well, one a
saver-security seeker, and the other one’s a security seeker-saver. So, they
didn’t have all this saving and security seeker about them all inside of their
relationship, so they don’t have a lot of class in there.
Now do they have a lot of
adventure in their relationship? Not really, they need to work on that, because
there’s nobody in the relationship that’s encouraging that.
So it’s like people ask us,
“Is it OK for us to get married with our combination?” Yes, it is.
If you love each other and you’re committed to each other and you understand
Hoff: So, again, that sort of kind of leads to my next question which
is, OK, so you take this assessment on your site, you now know what your
money personality is, what your partner’s money personality is. What do you do
with that information now? What if you find out, okay, we’re totally opposite,
this is the source of our conflict for our entire marriage or our entire
relationship, what do you do with that information?
Bethany: Well, one of the things that we do is we have
some systems that you go through and they’re written inside of our book.
There’s three things, something called a money dump, a money huddle, and a
fighting fair. And if you can do those three things and do them with
understanding your money personality you’ll be fine.
I mean, we have just seen
miraculous changes inside of relationships if you do those three strategies,
those three ways of communicating and using your money personality inside of
those three systems you will not have a problem.
Hoff: Can you briefly go through each one of those systems so we know
what they are?
Bethany: Sure, the money
dump is to be able to dump everything out on the table. One of the things
that happens with money oftentimes especially after a while is we kind of keep
our thoughts in our brains and we don’t dump the things that we think that are
good with our money and our relationship, things that are bad inside of our
relationship. We don’t just get an opportunity to be able to just get it all
Scott: Yeah, and do it in a positive way.
Bethany: Right, exactly.
Scott: That it doesn’t tear you apart.
Scott: The goal with the money dump is to just get it
all out and do it in a constructive and kind way. And Beth and I, we still do a
money dump every year.
Bethany: Once a year, yes.
Scott: We’ve been doing the money couple for close to
eight years, and we still do this money dump at the beginning of every year,
because it just feels good to say, “Hey, what are we doing right? What are
we doing wrong and what’s bugging us?”
Scott: And so we’ve got a very specific system to
make sure that feelings aren’t hurt and it’s done in a constructive way.
Scott: So you definitely start with the money dump.
Bethany: The next one is the money huddle. Now the money huddle is something that you do
once a month. And this is an opportunity for you to be able to get out your
needs, your dreams; the things that you think are positives, negatives, and all
that, that’s all about your money relationships.
It’s nothing to do with your
finances in the sense of your budget, your retirement planning, your insurance
planning, your estate planning. That’s financial planning issues and things
that you need to talk about. We’re talking about your money relationship, the
day to day money talk that you have.
So the money huddle takes about
45 minutes once a month, and it’s a whole system to be able to get the day to
day money talk in a good position for you. Especially when you have these
opposite dynamics, again there are so many opportunities for hurt that the
money huddle really gives you that system to be able to get your money
relationship on track.
Scott: Part of the greatness of this system that
we’re doing is that we have put the cart before the horse in the financial
planning world for the last 150 years, and that we naturally assumed, and this
is what Bethany and I have found, and we’re financial advisors so we get it,
that we assume that if you have no debt you’re going to have a better
relationship. If you have the perfect retirement plan you’re going to have a
better relationship. If your house is paid off you’re going to have a better
And what we found is that
although those things help you can still have all those boxes checked and have
a terrible relationship, because you don’t even agree about those decisions
that you’re making with those specific area.
So what we have to do is we have
to understand how we can actually compromise in a relationship, crazy word that
none of us are very good at, how do we compromise, but how do we put the
relationship first and then figure out all that other stuff and be on the same
And what we find by doing the
money dump and the money huddle is that when you have a very specific times
that you’re going to talk about money, that you’re going to address money, and
that you’re going to address concerns, you stop bickering, you stop nitpicking,
you stop fighting, because you know that you have a safe place once a month to
sit down and say, “Hey, let’s really evaluate our money
And once you understand that
there is a difference between a money relationship and your finances and you
can compartmentalize them, you can really start working on the love and money
aspect of your relationship, and all the other stuff falls into place.
I mean, the reality is I can’t
tell you how many thousands of couples that we’ve talked to that they’ve gotten
out of debt but it was so driven by one person that it actually drove their
relationship apart. Is that good? No, debt’s terrible. We’re not proponents of
having debt, but the reality is that it takes you two years to get out of debt
if you don’t take care of your relationship in the meantime, you get out of
debt but you hate each other.
Scott: If you maybe take two and a half or three
years and you get out of debt and you keep doing your date nights and you keep
doing things that are important in your relationship, you’re out of debt a
little bit later, but you have a great relationship so that you can even move
forward faster together in the future.
Hoff: And divorce is very expensive, so to try to avoid that is a good
Bethany: Yeah, no kidding.
Scott: No kidding.
Bethany: No kidding. One other thing I’ll just mention
too, so we got the money dump, that’s big picture once a year, money huddle
once a month. And then I’ll talk about the last one, and that’s one I just
love, it’s called fighting fair.
And the truth of the matter is
we’re two people, there’s going to be fighting going on. Let’s learn how to
fight in a way that is going to bring us together and not tear us apart. And
that’s what fighting fair is all about. So it’s once you feel like a money
fight is coming on, it’s a whole system to be able to minimize the hurt that
happens inside of fights.
Hoff: I want to quickly go through kind of some relationship conflicts
that could be going on regarding money and kind of how you would use these
systems to address those. Like for instance let’s say one person’s the total
breadwinner in the family, the other person either is bringing a much less or
they’re not bringing in anything at all, and there’s some resentment there for
the person bringing it in.
I know many couples where the
woman is bringing in a lot of the money and the husband may not be bringing as
much. He may still be contributing for the kids and doing things with the kids,
but there’s still this resentment there, what would you do to address this
before it gets out of hand where the relationship no longer can be saved?
Bethany: You know what’s so interesting about that
scenario? Is that you can have that same scenario but if you have different
money personalities that scenario is going to play out different in that
relationship. Let me give you an example.
You can have the breadwinner who
is a saver-security seeker, OK? And then you have a person who is not
bringing in as much money, they’re let’s say has been the risk taker. So the
reason that the resentment is really happening is because this person is
bringing in some of the money but they’re a saver-security seeker, and this
other person is coming in and spending all this money, that’s where the
conflict is. It isn’t necessarily because they’re bringing in all the money
where all the resentment is.
Now if you’ve got the kind of
relationship where there is resentment simply because you’re bringing in more
money than the other, and all that. Well, then there might be a scenario where
that’s not a good relationship. I mean, that might be true. But really looking
at what’s going on in terms of the money personalities in that scenario is key,
and they have got to get that out, they have got to talk about that.
And if they think, if this
breadwinner person thinks that this other person isn’t bringing in enough money
and they’re lazy let’s say, that they’re just being lazy. Well, then there are
so many more issues other than just money going on there, that doesn’t have
anything to do with money.
Bethany: So it’s really interesting. You’ve got to
identify what the foundational resentment is coming from, not necessarily what
the actual numbers are.
Scott: We talk a lot about in our book and in our
studies that in some situations you might have somebody that just loves to
control the money. And we don’t have a lot of time to go into that, but the
reality is that some people whether you’re the breadwinner or you’re not the
breadwinner just have control.
And so we talk a lot about what
we call financial infidelity, which is we’ll do another whole podcast with you
on financial infidelity. I tried to trademark that about 10 years ago and had
no luck. But we got financial infidelity that’s kind of running rampant in a
lot of our relationships.
Bethany: Which is lying, cheating.
Scott: Lying, cheating, hoarding issues with money.
And so lot of times what we’re seeing with couples too is that after years of
resentment that’s build up, we have this financial infidelity.
So part of what Bethany and I are
so excited about is that we think, well, we don’t think, we know, we have a
system that can help couples if they had been married for two months or 50
years, and that it just lets them step back, do that self-evaluation that we
talked about, be able to evaluate their spouse, and then move forward on a
And you know what? It’s fun. I
think part of what we’ve done in the financial planning world is we’ve made it
so guilt-driven and we did it so you’re right, I’m wrong. Well, that’s not
true, you’re just different. It’s like Bethany’s not wrong for having red hair
and I’m not wrong for having almost no hair. It’s just who we are.
And if we can get back to the
point where we can say, “Hey, we’ve got a fun, engaged way of really figuring
out why we’re struggling. Now we can move forward together. We can fix it,
because it is fixable.” I don’t think there’s any relationship in the
world that can’t be fixed if you want it to be fixed.
Now we’re going in with this
amazing bit of information, now we understand our kids, we understand our
parents, we understand why we do weird things with money every once in a while.
Now we get it. Now we can move forward and we’ve got specific systems for
talking about money, for talking about financial infidelity.
Hoff: Yeah, what are three steps that somebody listening to this right
now can take starting today to get their relationship on sound financial
footing with each other?
Scott: Absolutely. First thing is take that money
personality assessment. That is going to rock your world. The second thing is
have your significant other take the money personality assessment, because you
are 90 percent of the way there by understanding who you are, by understanding who
your spouse is.
And then we have a really unique
system that’s called the money and me blueprint. And what it does is it’s a
17-page document that you can get right after you take the assessment, which is
going to show you where you are, where you’re bumping up against each other,
and how you can move forward.
So we get very specific in that,
“Oh, you’re married to this person. Or you’re with this person, here’s
what you have to think about and here’s what you have to keep in mind.”
Hoff: All right, and then finally our show is called Charged Up, what
gets you charged up about saving relationships through resolving these
Scott: We believe that by people understanding who
their money personalities are we can drop the divorce rate in America by 10 percent.
Bethany: 10 percent, yep.
Scott: If 70 pecent of marriages are ending over money, and
we have people actually for the first time talking and moving forward together
and understanding and learning how to love each other again, we can drop that
divorce rate. So our big hairy, audacious goal, what gets us up every morning
is dropping that divorce rate by 10 percent.
Hoff: Fantastic. It was a pleasure speaking with both of you. I think
this conversation could have gone on much longer. You have a lot of interesting
information. I highly encourage people to check out your book, check out your
website – themoneycouple.com. And I really appreciate it.
Scott: Absolutely our pleasure.
Bethany: Absolutely. It was great to be with you.
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