Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fourth Circle of Hell (Home Edition)

In George Loewenstein's classification, people can be divided into "tightwads" and "spendthrifts." Tightwads feel an excess of pain when spending money and thus spend less. Spendthrifts don't feel enough pain and overspend. In both cases, the gut reaction to spending money biases, and sometimes trumps, rational budgeting. A new study by Scott Rick, Deborah Small, and Eli Finkel finds that spendthrifts tend to marry tightwads, and vice-versa. That may not be a good thing — "In spite of this initial attraction," the authors write, "spendthrift/tightwad differences within a marriage predict disagreements over finances, which in turn predict diminished marital well-being." The article begins with this quote from Dante's description of the Fourth Circle of Hell:

I saw a nation of lost souls…they strained their chests against enormous weights, and with mad howls rolled them at one another. Then in haste they rolled them back, one party shouting out: “Why do you hoard?” and the other: “Why do you waste?”

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