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Why opposites attract when it comes to relationships and spending, according to 'zen millionaire' Ken Honda


We all have our own unique ways of dealing (or not dealing) with money. Whether you’re a compulsive saver or compulsive spender, your money personality type, can lead to habits that are hard to break.

Which is why it can be so hard to talk about, let alone manage money within a relationship.

A 2021 TD Love and Money survey found that 10 per cent of Canadian couples argue about essential expenses such as mortgage payments. Additionally, 16 per cent of couples argue when discussing non-essential expenses like dining out.

Ken Honda, Japan’s “zen millionaire,” has spent years counselling individuals and couples through these struggles.


“The same reason that got [couples] together could be the same reason for divorce,” said Honda.

We recently spoke to the author to get his insights on what your money personality can tell you about your relationships, and how couples can avoid those finance-fueled fights.

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In his years of experience, Honda has seen specific personality types be attracted to one another, and for good reason

For instance, the spender and the moneymaker tend to end up together. Honda says that the spender will be attracted to the moneymaker, since the moneymaker can finance their lifestyle.

For a moneymaker, being with a spender gives them the chance to live vicariously. They get to see their money being spent in a way to live an exciting life, which is what the moneymaker misses out on while they’re busy hustling to make more money.

At the beginning of a relationship, the attraction works. Both personality types find fulfillment in what they can give each other

But after a few years of this, the fissures begin to show.

The spender begins to feel that their partner is stingy, focusing their energy on making money instead of experiencing life with them.

Meanwhile, the moneymaker will feel “I’m going to go bankrupt one way or another if I’m married to this person,” said Honda.

Leading cause of divorce

A Kentucky State University study shows that financial disagreements among couples are stronger predictors of divorce than other arguments.

In relationships, Honda said it’s easy to believe that financial problems are caused by the other person, not by you.

“We have to really be realistic about the money we make and money we spend,” said Honda. By accepting our responsibility in our individual relationships with money, we can build stronger and healthier relationships.

Honda points out that life is meant to be enjoyed, but at the same time you need to pay the bills.

“I’m not recommending the minimum lifestyle or I’m not recommending no savings,” said Honda, “but don’t rely on that for your emotional security.”

As a couple, it’s important to work out the issues that you have surrounding money, otherwise a balance will never be reached.

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With a little help from your friends

Talking about money can be uncomfortable at the best of times. After all, the way you relate to money has been developed since you were a child. You watched how your parents handled their finances, and this was the basis of your relationship with your own money. To you, this is the normal way of handling things.

“If you tend to think negatively, you can’t turn around and then start thinking positively as of now,” said Honda. “Money is the same thing. It’s rooted in a deep place in you.”

Honda points out that a child brought up in a wealthy household may never understand the anxiety and stress that can arise over money (or lack thereof). And if you weren’t wealthy, you might have grown up witnessing your parents fight and argue about money all the time.

“All of us felt some kind of pain when we were growing up,” said Honda. “If you didn’t have money in the family, you probably felt shame and embarrassment and guilt.”

But like anything, practice makes perfect. You can start to change the way you relate to your finances — and to other people by talking about your relationship and experiences with money. This is where your friends, family and close relationships can be so important.

“I think when you have tough money situations, that is a time to learn to be vulnerable, and start asking for help,” said Honda.

Being vulnerable and accepting help from others can be difficult, but the desire to keep things secret can sometimes lead to “financial infidelity.” This can include things such as keeping debt — or even a bank account — a secret from your partner. The TD Love and Money survey found that eight per cent of Canadians admitted to keeping a financial secret from their partner.

More importantly, a 2021 U.S.-based survey, found that the act of financial infidelity led to separation for 16 per cent of couples where the “cheater” came clean. If partners feel comfortable discussing their financial situations, then it will make the situation (and the relationship) better.

If you have a better relationship with money, and enjoy the life you’re living, Honda believes that you’ll be able to make the best of your life — both individually and with your partner.

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.