Entries in money (20)


Cleaning Up from the Holiday Season

Maybe you spent months in a race against the clock to produce the most memorable Christmas gift your spouse has ever received.  Maybe you scrimped and saved every spare dime to reward your children with the latest and greatest gizmos, gadgets or items of clothing.  Maybe you simply procrastinated and completed your holiday shopping in a matter of hours before the “big” night with the family!  Regardless of your preparation, or lack thereof…it’s over.  Now that we have embraced and celebrated the holiday season, for many of us our thoughts turn to the “clean up” of the holiday fury.  By clean up, I don’t mean the laborious task of taking down the tree, or uncovering the mantle from the holiday stockings that were hung quite meticulously only hours after carving the Thanksgiving turkey and ham.  By clean up, I mean the often inevitable crash that comes after the anticipation and the climax of the holiday season. 

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Four Things You Need to Consider When Deciding to Get Married

In a survey of over 1200 adolescents, 95% of them said that they would get married some day. But, I’m willing to bet that they weren’t ready to get married at the time they answered that question. Why? Likely because they’re young, and when you’re young it feels like you have a million things to take into account before you make a major life decision like getting married. In this post I discuss four things that people take into consideration when deciding whether or not to get married.

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Diamonds Aren’t Forever: Expensive Rings and Weddings May Lead to Relationship Problems

My husband and I got hitched this past June, which I can honestly say was one of the happiest and most transcendent experiences of my life. However, we both agree that whereas the wedding was awesome, the wedding planning process was decidedly not awesome. Navigating the wedding industry can be quite frustrating, in part because of the relentless pressure to spend fantastic amounts of money on anything and everything wedding-related. As a relationships researcher, I was particularly interested in, and baffled by, the rhetoric that many vendors use in order to sell wedding services and products.

Many of the sales pitches boil down to the idea that couples in love should want expensive weddings. Vendors will argue that if you truly love your partner, you should be willing to go to any lengths (at least monetarily) to properly celebrate that love on your “special day”. For example, maybe you want to show your love for your partner by getting a fancy gilded guestbook for your guests to sign, or personally monogrammed hand towels for the reception bathroom. Sometimes the rhetoric even goes so far as to suggest that an expensive wedding guarantees you true love. With a perfectly straight face, some vendors will tell you that your wedding day will “set the tone” for your marriage, and you should be willing to do anything it takes to start your marriage off “on the right foot”. For example, perhaps you should set the right tone by hiring a 20-piece orchestra for your ceremony, or limos to transport all your guests to the reception.

Examples of this sort of advertising can be traced back to the 1940s, when De Beers diamond company launched their infamous “Diamonds are forever” campaign. Indeed, many of the social norms around marriage proposals—such as the arbitrary benchmark of two months’ salary that men should spend on an engagement ring—come from De Beers’ successful advertising efforts. Like the wedding industry more broadly, the diamond industry relies on the premise that spending a great deal of money shows love for your partner and predicts relationship success. This idea is widespread in our culture, likely because it is a marketer’s dream: who wouldn’t pay any price to ensure marital bliss? What’s less clear is how accurate these notions are. To what extent do high levels of spending actually predict marital bliss?

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Valentine’s Day Tip: Use Hearts to Get More Tips

We all know that Valentine’s Day is a heart-filled holiday, but is it possible that seeing a heart changes how much you tip at a restaurant? In a study of over 350 restaurant patrons’, waitresses delivered the bill under one of three candy-filled dishes: square, round, or heart-shaped. Results revealed that more people tipped (the study was in France, where tipping isn’t necessarily automatic) when provided with a heart-shaped dish and tipped a higher amount compared to the other two shapes. If you work as a waiter or waitress, perhaps you can make hearts work for you throughout the year.

Guéguen, N. (2013). Helping with all your heart: The effect of cardioid dishes on tipping behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43(8), 1745-1749. doi:10.1111/jasp.12109


How Much Should You Spend on Your Partner for Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day is what it is. At its best, Valentine’s Day is a day where you can be a little extra romantic and take the opportunity to celebrate your relationship. At its worst, it is an overly commercialized “Hallmark holiday” with too much of an emphasis on chocolates, flowers, and pushy jewelry advertisements. Think what you want, but if you’re in a relationship, you should probably be thinking about what to get your partner.

You need a gift. You can read here about what to get or here to read about bad gifts to avoid. But how do you figure out how much you should spend on that gift?  You could take a guess, ask a few friends, or you could do what we did and survey over 1000 people in the United States. (Click here for more details about our survey) Here’s what we found out...

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Save Your Money to Increase Your Attractiveness 

image source: aiyelpost.com/finance/simple-livingMoney has a funny way of finding its way into close relationships. Previously we've discussed how money makes you a worse parent, how it can make people less sensitive to others, and how men are more likely to go into debt to compete for mates. Research shows that a people view those who save their money as more attractive than those who spend their money. You can read more about how being a saver influences perceptions of things like workout habits over at MarketWatch. 


More Reasons to Have Sex: Money and Health

Want to earn more money and lead a healthier life? Have more sex (correlation/causation issues aside). Not that you needed more reasons to have sex on a weekly basis, a recent study of Greek men and women found that those who reported having more sex earned higher salaries and were less likely to suffer from certain health problems. You can read more over at the Huffington Post.

Check out our articles about the psychological and physical benefits of sex here and here, respectively, and more generally about the reasons people give for having sex here.


Relationships Are More Important Than Ambition

image source: carmenlaffon1.blogspot.comOf course, those of us here at ScienceOfRelationships.com don't need convincing, but a recent article over at The Atlantic details some of the evidence for the claim that relationships matter more than ambition (and all the good things that come with ambition).

Read our related articles on The Need to Belong here, and what types of regrets tend to hit us the hardest here.


Understanding ‘The Price of Marriage in China’

The New York Times recently covered two very different match-making stories that unfolded in Beijing (read the article here). In one, a wealthy bachelor nicknamed “Mr. Big” paid more than half a million dollars for a squad of “love hunters” to scour the country looking for his vision of the ideal wife: a milky-skinned virgin eighteen years his junior. In the second, Ms. Yu, the desperate mother of an unmarried forty-year-old man, spent her days making fruitless trips to the local match-making park. (Yes, there really are parks for parents to meet other parents and set their mutual children up on blind dates—more on this below.) She had been searching for a daughter-in-law for four years, but her son’s “pickiness” and meager financial prospects quashed every lead she could generate.

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Do Those Who Buy Together Stay Together? Treating Homeownership as a Relationship Decision

My fiance is a mortgage broker, and recently we decided to combine our two passions (mine = relationship research, his = finances) and share some thoughts that might help couples who are thinking of buying a home together. For more information, blogs and videos on finances, visit the Loewen Group website.

Buying your first home? Chances are this is not only a financial decision, but a relationship decision as well.

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When a Flash of Skin Makes a Man Flash His Cash

I’m probably not the only person who’s wondered why muscle-car expos and auto-enthusiast magazines often feature attractive female models, or “car babes,” posing suggestively alongside (or on top of!) luxurious vehicles. Doesn’t the eye candy distract prospective buyers from the cars?

Maybe not. Turns out feminine curves and cold chrome aren’t such an unlikely combination after all. It all boils down to the need to impress a potential mate.

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Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems: How Having Money Can Make You a Worse Parent

Common sense suggests that people should get their financial ducks in a row before having children. Indeed, couples frequently put off having children because they first want to be more financially secure. There are definitely some important upsides to this strategy; for example, kids tend to be healthier and happier when their parents are more well-off. But might there also be downsides to pursuing wealth before parenting?

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Show Me the Money! But, Don't Expect Me to be Nice

Kathleen Vohs and colleagues presented research today about the links between interpersonal sensitivity and money. In several studies in her lab, she found that drawing people's attention to money makes them less likely to be helpful to others, less likely to be charitable, and less likely to even want to sit close to another person.

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Invest in Your Relationship by Talking about Money

Some people find it tacky to talk about money in the context of love. They say, “All you need is love, love is priceless, and love conquers all.” Our cultural milieu tells us that if we are worried about money then we must be greedy, selfish, or shallow. Many of us listen to these messages and-- rather than talking about money with our beloved-- avoid the subject altogether, figuring that with strong love, practical concerns like income, debt, expenses, and spending habits will resolve themselves. 

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The Blame Game: Why Financial Stress Hurts Some Couples but Not Others

Money troubles constitute one of the most common relationship stressors. Interestingly, some relationships are especially prone to problems during tough economic times. Why? It depends on what people believe to be the cause of their financial difficulties. When couples attribute their financial troubles to their partners, satisfaction is worse. But blaming oneself or the economy minimizes the negative effect financial troubles have on satisfaction. Thus, finding a scapegoat for money-trouble may protect couples’ relationships.

Diamond, L. M., & Hicks, A. M. (2011). “It’s the economy, honey!” Couples’ blame attributions during the 2007-2009 economic crisis. Personal Relationships. Article first published online: 16 AUG 2011, DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2011.01380.x

image source: visualphotos.com


Mo Materialism, Mo Problems in Marriage

Researchers examined over 1,700 married couples to determine whether  materialistic individuals (i.e., those who agree with statements such as "I like to own things to impress people" and "money can buy happiness") experience increased relationship problems. More materialistic individuals reported less partner responsiveness, worse communication, poorer conflict resolution, and lower marital quality compared to people who devalue material possessions. The negative effects of materialism were more pronounced when both partners were materialistic.

Carroll, J. S., Call, L. L., Busby, D. M., & Dean, L. R. (2011). Materialism and marriage: Couple profiles of congruent and incongruent spouses. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 10(4), 287-308. doi:10.1080/15332691.2011.613306


A Little Too Good To Be True: Deceptive Tactics in Dating

Evolutionary theories of partner selection suggest that whereas men look for partners with signs of youth and fertility, women seek out partners who will be good providers (i.e., males with status, power, and/or wealth). So, what’s a guy to do if he finds himself lacking when it comes to these highly sought-after characteristics? Employ deception!

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The Economics of Mating: Charging Up for Romance

When I was in college, credit card companies would lure students into opening accounts by giving away t-shirts or 2-liters of Coke in exchange for signing up for a new card. Nearly 20 years later I still have one of those accounts, although the t-shirt is thankfully long gone. I attended an engineering school that had nearly a 2-to-1 male to female sex ratio; there were twice as many young men on campus than women. Did this imbalance affect the likelihood that my fellow single men would get into trouble with their new credit cards? Could it be because of “intrasexual competition” (i.e., competing with other men) for relatively few available females?

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How Big is His…Wallet?

When do men flaunt expensive watches and exotic cars to attract mates? Do these displays work? It turns out men display luxury items when motivated by short-term mating strategies (i.e., hooking-up), and women seeking short-term mates prefer men displaying these items. However, women looking for a long-term mate (i.e., marriage material) are not impressed by the bling.

So guys, driving that Porsche signals you’re looking for a short-term mate, and that’s exactly who you’ll attract.

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The High Costs of Parenthood

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the costs of raising kids. To be clear, I’m not talking about the monetary costs ($118k to $250k in the U.S. by the time the kid reaches age 18, and that’s not counting college). Rather, a lot of the popular press writing on the topic has focused on the drop in marital and/or life satisfaction individuals experience following the birth of a child. Both New York Magazine (All Joy and No Fun: Why parents hate parenting) and a more recent story on CNN.com (Does having children make you happy?) paint a gloomy picture regarding the impact children have on individual and relationship well-being.

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