Tightwads Attract Spendthrifts – and Vice Versa

October 22, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - New research suggests that people who are tight with their money often end up marrying those who spend more freely.

Scott Rick of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and colleagues Deborah Small of the University of Pennsylvania and Eli Finkel of Northwestern University surveyed more than 1,000 married and unmarried adults in three separate studies to find out whether feelings toward spending money predict who people will marry and whether spousal differences in feelings toward spending money influence marital well-being. According to a report on the Ross School of Business Web site, they found that both tightwads and spendthrifts are unhappy with their emotional reactions toward spending money – and the more dissatisfied they are, the more likely they are to be attracted to people with opposing views toward spending.

“However, this complementary attraction ultimately appears to hurt marriages, as it is associated with greater conflicts over money and diminished marital well-being,” Rick says. “The more spouses differ on the tightwad-spendthrift dimension, the more likely they are to argue over money and the less satisfied they are with the marriage.

Despite people’s tendency to attract spouses who are their “spending” opposites, the researchers found that unmarried people believe their ideal romantic partner should share the same views on spending as they do.