How to spot a cheapskate
When the check arrives, does your date disappear?
Is there a lone dollar on the table after your four-star meal? Does
your companion pitch a hissy over the sushi until the restaurant eats
Guard your wallet. You might be dating a tightwad.
Olivia Mellan, author of The
Advisor's Guide to Money Psychology, says most of us are
either spenders or hoarders, regardless of gender. It is generally
spenders who drag their cheapskate partners into her Washington,
D.C., therapy practice.
"For these people, money is security," she
says. "They have a lot of fear. They have a lot of deprivation
mentality, that if they don't hold onto it they'll be in big trouble."
What turns someone into a tightwad?
"Sometimes it's a childhood trauma. They grew
up in a family where there was never enough or their parent was
a hoarder and they have adopted that behavior whole hog," she
"Other times, if someone was an overspender in
the family and got everyone into trouble, you might react by becoming
Money opposites do attract
It has been Mellan's experience that tightwads and spenders
either find each other or manage to bring out the opposite in their
partners over time.
"If opposites don't attract right off the bat
in a couple's relationship, and they usually do, then they will
create each other's opposite eventually; they'll polarize eventually.
Even if two spenders get together, they tend to fight each other
for the spender role and the other one will tend to hoard in comparison,"
"It's very rare to see two spenders who continue
to spend equally or two hoarders who continue to hoard equally.
Somebody will always want to spend money on some immediate pleasure
purchase and then they will begin to look like the spender in the
family by comparison."
Some of us manage to combine the two extremes all
"Bingers, for example, are hoarders and spenders
combined," says Mellan. "They save, save, save and then
they pop their cork and blow."
So you've discovered you're mixed up with a penny
pincher. Is there hope for cheapskates?
"It's like the light bulb joke: How many therapists
does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb
has to really want to change. If they see that it's costing them
something that they value, such as a relationship, then there is
hope. Otherwise there is no hope."
Not sure if your significant other is a certified
cheapskate? Go out to dinner; it's the perfect opportunity to see
if someone falls into one of these 10 tightwad categories. Click
on each for stingy tendency details.
Jay MacDonald is a contributing editor
based in Mississippi.