Opposites attract

How our differences can make us better with money.


People love to say that opposites attract. The studies I (Douglas) read aren’t definitive one way or another, but my own life sure makes the saying seem true. Heather and I are opposites in many ways, and that goes well beyond just personality traits. Astrologically, for example, she’s a Leo and I’m a Scorpio, which if you’re into this sort of stuff, means we shouldn’t be in the same room as one another. The universe deems us oil and water. We’re opposites in our blood, too. I am O-, the universal donor, while she is AB+, the universal receiver. And yet, here we are, working together, side by side for the last two decades. So, despite N equaling one here, there’s definitely something to that age-old expression.

Heather and I went into our second book expecting to study the inherent conflicts that exist between couples and their money. Throughout our many interviews, we’ve witnessed plenty of headbutting and disagreements stemming from people's differences. However, we’ve also spoken with couples that created synergies around them. Two people having different feelings, opinions, and preferences around money can be a recipe for inherent conflict; but with curiosity, vulnerability, and communication, balance is possible.

Here are some examples of opposites working well together from our research and my experience.

Having different spending styles in a relationship can create financial balance by blending cautious saving with occasional splurging. In my TJA interview with Tightwads and Spendthrifts author Scott Rick, he mentions that opposite couples have an easier time with conversations around their spending. When one partner likes to spend and the other prefers to save, they can complement each other by ensuring that their finances are neither too constrained nor irresponsibly depleted. The spender brings joy and spontaneity to the relationship, encouraging occasional treats and experiences that enrich the saver’s life. Meanwhile, the saver ensures that long-term financial goals, like savings, investments, and emergency funds, are met. This creates a balanced approach to managing money, allowing couples to enjoy the present while securing their future.

Differences in how partners deal with risk can be beneficial, too. Having opposite risk profiles from your partner can provide a much-needed counterbalance when it comes to investing. If one partner has a higher appetite for risk and the other prefers lower risk investments, their joint investment strategy could end up benefiting from that diversification. The high-risk investor can capitalize on opportunities for significant gains, while the low-risk investor’s preferences help to stabilize the overall portfolio during downturns. Their balance mitigates the impact of market volatility, potentially leading to more consistent returns over time. When both partners are listening (and that part is key), having opposite risk profiles can encourage a more collaborative approach, because both partners have made emotional compromises around their skin in the game. You can support your partner through those slight discomforts and end up a stronger team. 

This is a big one I can’t possibly cover in a paragraph, but we’ll touch on it, anyway. Spouses with differing definitions of ambition can complement each other and create a harmonious partnership where both feel they’re getting what they want out of life. Some people tether their ambitions to their professional work and push for consistent growth, additional responsibility, or higher compensation. Maybe they are founders who think they can change the world, and a business feels like part of who they are. Other people adopt a broader view of ambition. Maybe they subscribe to the idea that you work to live, not live to work. Maybe they are ambitious mothers or caregivers who spread their efforts across many aspects of their lives: work, community, family, personal interests. Heather and I know what it’s like when we both want to move full throttle towards our professional goals at the same time: it’s not easy. One of us will likely be making a daily micro-sacrifice, which is fine, when it’s fine. Other times, it’s not. I guess the most important thing in this less-than-tangible concept of opposites is to understand your partner’s ambitions and what’s required for you to support them. And yes, it’s an easier task when one partner has more patience and flexibility around what they are trying to achieve. 

Just because you and your partner are financial opposites doesn’t mean you're destined for conflict. You can bet that Heather and I don’t agree on everything, but we do create the space to understand why the other feels the way that they do. Now, if we could only agree on where to go for dinner.

Should you have any feedback or wish to chat with us for our book or The Joint Account, you can find us here: [email protected].


  • Heather was featured in CNBC this article about the ‘I’m looking for a man in finance’ viral TikTok video. Yes, it’s still stuck in our heads.

  • Douglas went all crypto again and shared his thoughts for CNBC on how financial advisors are using (or not using) the new Bitcoin ETF.


Do you have a money question you’d like answered in a future issue of The Joint Account? Don’t be shy!

ARE YOU OPPOSITES? If you and your partner have different risk profiles, we’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line at [email protected].

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Find us everywhere: @dougboneparth + @averagejoelle

The content shared in The Joint Account does not constitute financial, legal, or any other professional advice. Readers should consult with their respective professionals for specific advice tailored to their situation.