Money is sometimes viewed as taboo – especially when it comes to relationships.
As if being in a relationship didn't already have enough challenges, dealing with money AND relationships can be nothing short of overwhelming at times.
Just the thought about having a conversation with your significant other about money can be scary… but it might be the most important conversation you need to have as a couple.
For starters, money is typically the cause of half of all divorces. Regularly, aside from communication, finances are a key source of friction in most relationships.
So the question we must ask ourselves is simple:
If money is such a problem for most couples, why don't more people take action in regards to making sure they are financially on the same page with their significant other?
Money and Relationships 101:
For most, throughout the course of our lives, we are taught different lessons about money, depending on how we were raised and choices we were afforded.
Keeping that in mind and the fact that humans are innately selfish, it is no mystery as to why money can be such a source of friction in a relationship.
Due to some of the naturally occurring selfish tendencies we exhibit, sometimes couples have trouble getting on the same page in general. Throw the topic of money into the conversation… and well things can get a little testy.
But, there is hope! There are relationships that are solid on all fronts, including the financial front.
In fact, if you were to talk to couples who have really healthy financial relationships they would most likely share these traits:
- They don't have separate accounts
- They don't have “Money Secrets”
- They don't point the finger about previous financial mistakes (or debt)
- They work together on everything!
Marriage is a lifetime union between two people, but even if you're not married and just in a serious relationship doing things like – holding financial secrets or keeping separate accounts – can lead to unnecessary friction and stress!
And we already acknowledged relationships have enough challenges as it is besides money. In all relationships and marriages, trust is vital to having a healthy, happy, and awesome marriage/relationship.
Here are some tips to help you with money in your relationship!
10 Tips For Money and Relationships to Work Better:
Here is a complete list of 10 tips for couples who are ready to get on the same page that will help form/maintain healthy relationships, especially when it comes to money!
(Before you read, take this quick 10 question quiz to gauge your personal viewpoints on finances and marriage >> Take this Couple Quiz)
1. Avoid common mistakes couples make.
If you saw someone jump off a cliff and perish, well chances are you don't need to expierence that for yourself to know that jumping off a cliff isn't a good idea.
Corny metaphors aside, there is somethign to be said when it comes to money and your relationship – and that is avoid the common mistakes other couples make!
Everyone has the friend couple who constantly argues and we all have that couple friend who seems to always do dumb things with their money too.
Whether it is…
- Stonewalling (men),
- Being passive-aggressive,
- Taking your relationship for granted,
- Spending without regard for the other person, or
- Simply fighting about everything
Recognize that you must avoid the common mistakes couples make. You won't ever fix the money problems in your relationship if you don't first address the surface level issues that may exist!
Learning to effective communication might be the most important thing you can ever do in life – especially in a relationship – because once you can communicate about your relationship, everything is easier!
2. Plan your finances together.
The first thing all couples should do, whether engaged, married, or not even close to marriage, is “Lay it all out” and make a financial plan together.
- Do you intend to pay off debt first?
- Do you want to create an emergency fund?
- Do you have a savings goal by an age you would like to hit?
Regardless, having a plan that extends longer than a couple of months will only help your relationship and future!
Most couples have goals of security for themselves and family/future family. All goals start with a plan followed by working the plan backward with action steps.
In order to figure out a plan that fits best for money and your relationship, simply have a conversation about how you want to live in the future. Then jot some ideas down!
3. Settle the joint bank account debate.
Want to cause a stir on social media? Ask this question:
Should couples have joint accounts or separate bank accounts?
While the battle will wage on forever in the comment thread, the truth to that matter is this:
- Couples who have healthy marriages and are on the same page typically have joint-accounts and combined finances.
- That being said, you have to do what works best for you and your relationship!
Making a blanket statement like “All couples should combined finances,” simply isn't applicable in the world of personal finance. You can have:
- One joint account with separate spending accounts
- One account
- Separate accounts and split bills
There is no exact way – whatever helps you work together is the est way for you. Long term, it should be a goal to eventually have everything together, especially with kids.
4. Set financial goals together.
What are your long term goals and do you have a 5-10-15 year plan for your family?
Sharing common goals with one another is essential in ensuring that financially, everything goes as well as possible.
While there will be hiccups and growing pains, goals will help you stay true to your plan and draw you closer to your spouse. Goals make us communicate and work together.
Start with some small goals such as paying off consumer debt or creating a 3-month emergency fund. Over time you can adjust and add on as you accomplish your goals.
>>Related Content: Marrying Someone With Student Loan Debt.
5. Budget with each other!
The magic behind any financial goal starts with a great budget.
A potential pitfall in a relationship is when one person is not on the same page as the other and is spending frivolously… while the other is a frugal fanatic budgeter!
One recommendation to help is to simply just pay yourself first. Simply figure out what you're willing to commit to your future, set some spending limits, and automate your finances!
Just like couples that pray together – stay together, the same can be said for budgeting!
6. Discuss & regularly reevaluate your finances.
Revisit your plan, goals, and budget monthly until you get the hang of things.
A 20-minute conversation can be the difference between a really happy and mutually fulfilling relationship vs a not so good one.
Communication is key in all relationships and poor communication is the number one complaint in most relationships. While getting together monthly might seem a bit much, truthfully, you can not afford to NOT meet monthly to review your financial progress as a couple.
This is when you can also talk about adjustments, concerns, and future plans!
7. Don’t get defensive
If you are the person (like we can all be at times) who sometimes does something silly (like buying a brand new truck without telling anyone) don’t get defensive if your spouse approaches you to discuss.
By admitting our mistakes and “Falling on the sword,” will actually create more trust in our relationship. However, becoming defensive typically leads to further problems and insecurities.
When one partner brings up a financial issue in your monthly discussion, don’t get defensive. Learn to compromise, like #8 below.
8. Compromise when needed
With many varying viewpoints and ideas out there with regards to how a couple should manage their finances, what it really boils down to is a compromise.
Along with communicating and having a plan, compromise, and meeting in the middle are what being in a relationship is all about!
The easiest thing to do is focus on what the other person did wrong, instead be solution-seeking, see where you can compromise. Recognize you may have different views on how to handle finances together.
Working together and coming up with a strategy that you both agree on is imperative for money and relationships to succeed!
9. Find a financial mentor
Find what? Though you might find this interesting, you need to find a couple or mentor who exhibits a healthy financial marriage that you emulate with your relationship.
This doesn’t have to be parents or family, in fact, it might be better to learn from someone outside of your normal sphere of influence (a parent will almost always offer bias advice).
If you have the opportunity to learn from someone who is financially successful or a couple who has been married for over 20 years – you can learn a ton!
Like anything, working through the highs and lows is always better when you have someone who you can trust to bounce ideas off and gain perspective!
10. Read some personal finance books together
Most couples start with Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey or The Automatic Millionare by David Bach.
While not all personal finance books have to be written by a guy named Dave, there are plenty of great books to help you get on the same page as a couple.
Here is a quick list of personal finance books and books for couples that have personally helped my wife and I:
- Total Money Make Over – Paying off debt together
- The Five Love Languages – Understanding your partner's love language.
- The Automatic Millionaire – Automating your finances together.
- Love & Respect – Breaking out of the crazy cycle in your relationship (when the author spoke about the crazy cycle, my jaw hit the floor – so true!)
- Millionaire Next Door – the habits of the everyday millionaire to adopt
- Start With Why – Helping you find your reasons for working on money in your relationship!
11. Do some emergency planning
Last but not least, you need to have an emergency plan in place as a couple.
When I wrote life happens so manage your money better it was because I had personally experienced and witnessed what is referred to as “A major financial crisis.”
Somewhat alarming, I went out to discover that at some point, over 1 in 4 people will experience a major financial crisis such as a home loss, job loss, family member dying and so on.
As much as we might all want to avoid this one, planning for the worst and hoping for the best is important – especially if you're in a serious relationship!
Planning for an emergency doesn't have to be overly complicated. You can start with saving up an emergency fund that is equal to about 3-6 months worth of fixed expenses.
From there you can choose to go several routes like paying off bad debt by a certain age, putting together a will or planning for the long term with life insurance.
Either way, just putting together some security measures will help ease the feeling of financial stress. While this is not at the forefront for most couples, it doesn’t mean it isn’t vital!
Like anything, all of this sounds great on paper, but in actuality, it comes down to taking some action.
Whether you have enormous financial goals are small ones as a couple, that is not the point. Your key takeaway should be that if you're in a serious relationship, money should be a topic of conversation!
Be open about your finances, share your goals, compromise, communicate regularly, and grow together! Your future self will be glad you did 🙂
Q: What is one piece of financial advice you can give to a couple or that has worked for you?
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! I got serious with money when I used Personal Capital to track my finances.