Why Couples Disagree About Money
Monday, September 16th, 2019

If you’ve ever been in any kind of relationship, chances are you have experienced differences with your partner about money. It’s an age-old problem and it rates high on reasons why couples seek counseling. Whatever the living situation, it’s a fact that when human beings co-habitat money challenges occur.

The family we grew up in often has a big influence on how we experience, feel, and think about money. Observing how our parents handled money impacts our own long-term money behaviors. If our parents demonstrated compromise and a team mentality about money, there’s a good chance we will be able to translate these behaviors to our own relationships.

If our childhood consisted of parents who stressed and argued about money, then we have the likelihood to also have difficulty with money and relationships. Discussions about early money experiences may help avoid any pitfalls or assist us in recreating the success.

To avoid major disagreements with your other half, consider exploring these typical money problems. This will help you create a positive money relationship before you take the plunge.

Make a Plan

Starting without a plan of action or similar money goals can kill an otherwise great relationship. Most couples find that they have major differences in spending habits. If these differences are not addressed, they will lead to frustration and turmoil. Enlisting the assistance of a financial planner, early in a relationship, can help couples establish a plan of action with the appropriate guidance, resources and tools.

Creating a simple budget from day one can remove a lot of misunderstanding. Taking time to establish joint short-term goals early in the relationship will add a layer of accountability. Next, work together to prioritize these goals and set a realistic timeline. Without these critical discussions, accountability may not exist between partners.

Share Your Money Secrets

When you enter into a committed relationship, in which you plan to share finances, you must divulge all your debt. If one person tends to overspend and hide purchases from the other, then the opportunity for resentment and distrust can fester. This may cause long-term damage. It’s important to put all your cards, including credit cards (pun intended), on the table ahead of living together or getting married. Being open with your partner allows you to have productive financial conversations. It enables you to make a joint effort to remediate debt and poor spending habits in an organized and collaborative manner.

If you feel like this conversation needs assistance, consider including a financial advisor or therapist in the process. They will be able to provide objective opinions about your habits and offer guidance as to how to move forward successfully together.

Talk About Your Money Values

Assuring that your money values match is critical to your relationship’s financial success. Our values reflect our most deeply held beliefs. These beliefs impact how we manage our financial resources.

Relationships can exist and survive mismatched values. Some may never discuss finances and still achieve success in love. However, making financial matters a regular conversation assists couples in avoiding financial mishaps. These discussions assure both partners are on the same page.

I’m reminded of this story which is a good example. An older couple attended a daylong retirement seminar held by the human resources department of a government agency. Employees who were nearing retirement brought their spouses. One hour of the seminar focused on a money values discussion. The conversation evolved to include how financial management affects retirement. Through this session, the older couple in the back of the room whispered back and forth.

Near the end of the session, the man raised his hand. When called on, he shared an amazing story. He said that he and his wife of over 35 years had made good money throughout their lives together. He commented proudly that they had raised four lovely children who all went to college and had their own families. He shared that they had tried hard to be smart with spending and saving, but that they could not decide if they were ready to retire.

The gentleman went on to admit that he and his wife had never considered their different money values. They realized these differences were impacting their retirement decision. He said that he was always a spender and she was always a saver.

Over the course of the lecture, they realized that their failure to look at retirement from their different perspectives in consideration of their differing money values was the very thing that was keeping them from making a decision. So that day, they vowed to make their money values a serious discussion. In doing so, they felt confident that they could determine the next step in their lives. Speaking openly would assure that their financial means would sustain what was most important to them.

The Bottom Line

No matter the length of your relationship, it’s never too late to stop and consider these concepts. Working together to recognize and avoid potential financial pitfalls can make all the difference in sharing a successful money life together.