Why is money such a taboo subject in many homes? If you have money fights in your marriage, you are not alone. Most couples will argue about money at some point. Whether you are fighting about the cost of your next vacation, your last trip to the mall, or their expensive hobby, money fights are not fun.
Usually, it starts out with a simple question about your next money move. Then you both get defensive, and you both refuse to discuss the topic calmly, so it devolves into an ugly battle. This example is precisely how money decisions turn into money fights.
Although talking about money can be scary, open discussion can help to stop money fights in your marriage. And if we’re honest, the financial changes that a new couple has to face greatly influence all aspects of their life together.
The best way to stop money fights in your marriage is to ask each other questions. It is important to understand where your partner is coming from and what their money goals are. If you want to stop the fights, then you’ll need to find a way to get on the same page financially. You can start by thinking through these questions together.
When is the Right Time to Discuss Our Finances?
The right time is as soon as possible!
For many couples, money is a sensitive topic that needs to be approached very carefully. However, it is important to rip off that band-aid and start talking about money as soon as you can. Without open discussion, it can be impossible to stop money fights in your marriage.
Ideally, you guys recognize that you are partners, and you will be honest with each other and share your money concerns as they arise. Any problems, and especially anything money-related, might become more challenging to manage as time passes by, so it’s best to address finance troubles when they occur.
For instance, if one of you brings significant debt into the marriage, it means that it is time for you both to start researching some ideas on debt management. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to be a money expert to figure it out. If others do it, so can you.
You can always transform a less than pleasant situation, such as debt, into an opportunity to learn more about money management. Tackling your debts as a team can make the process less of a burden.
Make it a priority to tell each other about any financial worries as soon as possible. The sooner you both have the information, the sooner you can tackle the problem together.
What Are Your Financial Goals?
Being honest about your financial past is important. If you have debt or bad credit, then you should let your partner know. It is equally important to talk about your financial future.
You need to share where you are coming from financially. Share your hopes and dreams to realize where finances will play a role. For example, if you want to travel the world, then you’ll both need to save for that. Or if you dream of a white picket fence, then you’ll need to save for a down payment aggressively.
Find some common ground in your financial goals and work towards that together.
What Are Your Thoughts About Money?
Different people have different opinions about money. Some think money is great, and others believe it is the worst evil. Some want as much as they can accumulate; others are nervous about having too much money in their bank account.
Find out where your partner is coming from. Take a look at how the finances were handled in their childhood home. Recognize their money fears as real concerns that will need to be addressed in your plans.
How Can We Budget as a Team?
At some point, you guys are going to want to get serious about planning and creating a family budget. In this sense, it is not only important to plan how to divide your resources for the various things you want to do but to stick to the restrictions you’ve set. In fact, getting into budgeting is a sure-fire way to avoid debt and its consequences.
Also, you should keep in mind that it’s one thing to be solely mindful of how you’re planning your own money as compared to how you are to manage shared resources. You and your partner will need to come clean about any and all money-related things. Allocate some time to discuss this together, at least on a monthly basis.
Although the circumstances can vary from couple to couple, it’s important to understand each other’s style of budgeting or, if things aren’t working as they should, to take the time to come up with a new way to handle your spending habits. Remember that you’re in this together, so be patient when balancing your budgeting style preferences.
How Can We Achieve Financial Security?
Once the honeymoon phase ends, you’ll need to make important decisions about the best financial security solutions – insurance, estate planning, etc. – for your needs. Although this may sound a little dull, if both of you are working and are covered by health insurance through an employer, it will be worth taking a look at which plan will be the most beneficial for your family.
Besides health insurance, think ahead and use this time also to discuss life insurance. Naturally, when you’re single and have no children, you’re not thinking about life insurance since no one depends on your income. Once you get married, it becomes necessary to discuss the scenario of when your partner is left to manage the household on their own and to consider whether or not life insurance would be a safe approach.
How Do We Handle an Early Retirement Plan?
Once you have everything set up in terms of health and life insurance benefits that are suitable for your family’s needs, you’ll also want to take a closer look at retirement plans and pensions. It is best to take advantage of the many different retirement accounts that are within reach to aid your tax situation.
Living as a couple can lead to a significant pre-retirement income, and so it may be the best time to start saving for retirement and also save money on your taxes.
In fact, the most important factor in answering this concern is your savings rate. The higher your savings rate, the sooner you can reach the necessary financial independence required for early retirement – all this being based on your current spending.
Who Will Pay the Bills?
Making on-time payments for your bills is absolutely critical. If you miss payments, it can affect your credit score and lead to other consequences.
Both of you likely have experience paying your own bills in the past. Although you are both capable of paying bills on time, it is sometimes best to leave one person in charge of this task. Otherwise, it is too easy to assume that your partner has made the payment when they haven’t.
Have a discussion and determine who will be responsible for making on-time payments. You can divide up the responsibility by tackling different bills. You can also set up autopay to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
Joint Checking or Separate Accounts?
When you get married, you’ll have to think about how to arrange your finances.
There is not a one size fits all strategy. You’ll have to find which method works best for you. Here are three of the best options:
- Completely joint. You can decide to combine absolutely every single account. It can make things easier in terms of paying bills because everything is coming out of a single pot of money. However, some people aren’t comfortable putting all of their financial cards on the table.
- Completely separate. In this scenario, you would leave your accounts how they were before you got married. You and your partner would need to decide who will pay what bills and pay separately. This management style can get complicated if you have several shared bills of various sizes. The determination of who pays the bigger bills can get tricky. But it can be a solid strategy for some couples.
- Separate and joint accounts. There is no rule that says you have to choose completely joint or completely separate accounts. You can find some middle ground. Typically, you’ll both fund a joint account that pays for all shared expenses. The rest of your money can stay in separate accounts. For some couples, this offers the best of both worlds.
It’s a common fact that money fights are a reason that many couples end up in the divorce court. So, this is something that has to be managed appropriately. Talk through your options together and choose a money management style that works best for both of you.
Can We Have Money Dates?
Asking your partner out on a date is usually fun. When you add money into the mix, that doesn’t have to take away the fun!
Consider making a monthly or weekly date to discuss your finances. You check in with your financial goals, mark any progress, and celebrate working towards your goals together. If you make these money dates a regular habit, then you’ll avoid any ugly financial surprises in the future.
What Should We Do if the Conversation Doesn’t Go As Planned?
Getting the hang of talking about money takes time. If you find yourself in the midst of a money fight with your spouse, take a step back. Couples Financial Counselor, Adam Kol, from AHK Coaching recommends a few tips on what to do when your money talks don’t go the way you want them to.
- Take a breath and release some stress. (meditation, exercise, etc.)
- Get curious about what upset you in the last conversation and why it upset you.
- Look out for what key values it implicated, what fears it stoked, and what insecurities it poked at.
- Consider different ways to look at and approach money talks. Try and identify how your actions or inaction contributed to the money fight tension.
- Ask your partner when you can give things another try.
- Start off the next conversation guided by Steven Covey’s wisdom: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Struggling to get your wife on board with FIRE? Check out Adam’s FREE Guide.
Stop Money Fights: You’re a Team in Your Marriage
All of this might sound great on paper, while in actuality, it may appear a bit more challenging. What you need to remember, however, is that what it ultimately comes down to is for you to have a firm hand over your financial status by taking action and improving your spending habits.
Marriage is a new partnership that also involves finding new financial solutions. Therefore, various financial goals of yours, such as early retirement or eliminating your spouse’s credit card debt, will introduce new challenges to the relationship. Challenges that can be overcome by working together.
Understanding how to navigate through these changes isn’t guaranteed to be easy, but planning ahead can help you build a strong financial foundation for your relationship while enjoying to the fullest the early retirement benefits.
Building a budget, and sticking to it, are vital components to retiring early and wealthy. Full control of your finances means knowing exactly what the situation is at all times. And we know that can be demanding, so if you have any budgeting questions or need some advice on which tool to use, we are here for you!
How do you manage finances in your marriage? Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments!
Samantha uses her BS in Finance and MBA to help others control their finances through budgeting, saving, investing, side hustles, and travel hacking. Due to following the FIRE Movement’s principles, she was able to quit her high-stress job in the financial services industry in July 2019 to pursue her side hustles. She is now a full-time entrepreneur, freelancing coach, and blogger.