Fights over money – they happen all the time. Disagreements and stress over money are one of the leading causes of divorce. And most of the arguments occur over numbers – disagreements over whether a couple can afford something or not. But numbers aren’t usually the problem. Usually the problem is a failure to understand each other’s motivations behind how they spend money. For individuals as well as couples, understanding money motivations provides a helpful key to stewarding finances well.

Host James Lenhoff leads us through four major money motivations – love, freedom, power, and security. Each of these motivations has an element of beauty, and each has a downside.

If your primary money motivation is love, you tend to spend on others before yourself. Generosity characterizes your spending decisions, but there may also be a tendency to spend impulsively or to “rescue” others and create dependency.

If your primary motivation is freedom, you likely value experiences over possessions and spending quality time with family and friends is a priority. But again, there may be a tendency to overspend and thus limit resources available for giving and saving.

If your main motivation is power, you spend in a way that enhances your leadership and accomplishes goals. This can be an important characteristic, but it can also lead to manipulation of others.

And if you’re mostly motivated by security, you tend to avoid impulse spending and manage money carefully. But you may have a tendency to hoard and may miss opportunities for generosity.

Free Resource

Good Sense Money Motivation Quiz

Want to understand more about how money motivates you? Take our Money Motivation Quiz to find your primary money motivation. These motivations aren't good or bad, but they help us understand our tendencies and know what to watch out for.