BY AMANDA BREEN
July 28, 2023
Chances are, you've heard of the five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time and physical touch. First outlined by Gary Chapman in his 1992 book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, the concept has since become a cultural phenomenon, surprising even the writer himself, per The New York Times.
But there's another language you should know if you want healthy relationships and finances. According to wealth manager and "fiscal feminist" Kimberlee Davis, four money languages influence the way we think and talk about our financial situations — and can have a real impact on our romantic partnerships.
"Just like with love languages, there are money languages that are driven by our money personality types," Davis tells Entrepreneur. "We often assume that most money quarrels are about the lack of money, but they are actually over how money is spent — they are about the use of shared resources."
We're content when we can spend our money in ways that align with our values and threatened when we can't because a loved one disagrees with us, Davis says — and the latter inevitably leads to conflict.
Davis describes four money languages and the "money personalities" that accompany them:
1. Drivers: They equate money with significance.
"Having money protects them from the fear of being incompetent, and the more money they have, the more in control and successful they feel," Davis explains. "Drivers manifest their love for others through the good their money can produce in the lives of others. It is important to them to provide a good lifestyle for their family. Drivers rely on money to define their self-esteem and can be materialistic, often rating people's significance based on their financial status. Drivers feel a deep sense of inadequacy when they lack money; it is what defines them."
Money personalities: the Compulsive Money-Maker and the Saver-Splurger
2. Analytics: They view money as protection from the curve balls that life throws at us.
"They are more focused on securing future financial stability than enjoying the present, and they manifest their love for family by saving and planning for the future," Davis says. "Analytics tend to be very structured and adhere to their budget at all costs. They communicate their love by saving and planning for the future well-being and interests of their loved ones. Often Analytics can come off as insensitive to the immediate needs of others because they find it difficult to deviate from their structured money agenda for any unplanned expenditures, and their loved ones may feel that they are less important to the Analytic than money."
Money personalities: the Compulsive Saver and the Worrier
3. Amiables: They believe money is a vehicle for them to express love and affection.
"Relationships and people are the focus of their financial agenda," Davis says. "Amiables express their love to their family and friends by sharing what they have with them, and they enjoy spending money on others. Although Amiables are kind and generous souls, they are not good at managing their money because they don't possess long-term motivations and goals. They have such a desire to help others with their financial burdens that they sometimes put themselves and their families at financial risk to help another."
Money personalities: the Compulsive Spender and, potentially, the Indifferent to Money
4. Expressives: They equate money with acceptance, respect and admiration from others.
"It is a connector to 'desirable' people and is a basis for the Expressive's relationships with these people," Davis explains. "Expressives manifest their love by spending to cultivate acceptance. Sometimes they use their money language to cover their deep insecurities and lack of self-belief. They believe that money is a panacea."
Money personalities: the Compulsive Spender, Compulsive Money-Maker, Saver-Splurger and Gambler
According to Davis, Drivers and Amiables are very compatible because they both use money as an expression of love; additionally, the Driver's desire to earn and save will reduce the Amiable's risk of over-generosity. But Drivers and Analytics also make a strong match, she says — both strive for secure financial futures and can work together to achieve them despite their other differences.
And the least compatible? The budget-conscious Analytic and eager-spender Expressive, who mix like "oil and water," Davis says. Analytics and Amiables will struggle too, as the latter's lacking long-term plan and tendency for financial instability is "the antithesis" of the former's approach.
But incompatible money languages don't necessarily spell relationship doom.
Davis suggests discussing your money languages and personalities, being fully transparent with your partner about your financial situation, setting a budget and financial goals together, and always asking for help when you need it — in the form of a financial planner and/or couple's therapist.
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