LaToya Westbrooks Keeling
❤️ How To Prevent These 5 Money Arguments in Your Relationship
Updated: Mar 15
The dates have been on the calendar for months, you’ve squared away everything at work, and you’re finally on your way to your beautiful Hawaiian anniversary trip.
You get to the island, smell the fresh ocean air, and arrive at the rental car center to pick up your car for the week. Instead of a small, modest (read: affordable) car to pop around the island on, you realize your partner has booked a 2023 Jeep that looks like it could cost $400/day.
Your stomach drops… you don’t want another money argument — especially not on your island getaway — but you can’t help thinking how much more practical and economical a simpler car would have been.
Thoughts that cause division start running through your head…
“Why does he always book the most expensive option?”
“Doesn’t he care about our financial goals?”
“Maybe I’ll suggest cheap restaurants this week to make up for the expensive rental car.”
Finances are one of the most common things couples fight about and can quickly ruin relationships (and vacations). One study showed approximately 41% of Generation X and 29% of the Baby Boomer generation divorced because of money disagreements.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to solve common money problems and learn how to fight fairly (and effectively) when new problems arise. Patience, open communication, understanding, and proper timing all play into having a flourishing financial life with your partner.
5 Common Money Arguments in Relationships
Why do so many people fight about money? Well besides it being highly personal and essential to survival, we all come with different money stories and backgrounds. Some of us may have grown up with plenty of money that was spent freely and often. Others may have grown up in a scarce environment where money was tight and often fought about.
Regardless of our experiences with money, there’s a good chance we’ll come across one of these five common money arguments at some point or another in our relationships.
1. Different Money Personalities
In today’s world, there are many different personality tests we can take to find out more about ourselves, and finances are no exception! Discovering our money personality can enhance both our self-awareness and relationships.
One expert in psychology, Ken Honda, suggests there are seven main money personality types:
Money affects almost every aspect of our lives, it’s imperative we know our money personality before we try to blend it with another person. It’s also important to understand how our actions and tendencies will affect another person.
Being a compulsive moneymaker as a single person might not be a big deal, but when you’re in a relationship, the other person could be negatively affected by your work obsession.
2. Financial Infidelity
This type of infidelity occurs when couples who share finances lie about debts, major spending, or the use of money in general. Financial infidelity can present itself in many different ways such as lying about purchases (or the cost of purchases), keeping secret accounts, withdrawing from investment or retirement accounts without telling the other person, accumulating debts, or hiding a portion of your income.
It can be extremely painful to learn your partner has committed financial infidelity or admit that you yourself have been untruthful. Because of the complexity of money and the potential shame attached to certain behaviors, it can be a slippery slope to fall into.
It’s important to address any issues as early as possible so there can be healing, understanding, and a rebuilding of trust.
3. Unfair Responsibilities
Managing money takes a lot of time. There’s bill paying, investment managing, tracking expenses, etc. There’s also the mental energy that comes from simply thinking about money.
If one person finds themselves shouldering the bulk of the financial management responsibilities, they could start to become resentful and arguments can ensue. This can also lead to one partner feeling like they have more say over the money because they manage it.
There needs to be a concise (and fair) share of the responsibilities. This may not always look 50/50. If one partner stays home and cares for the children, it may make sense for them to also track expenses and pay the bills during the day. On the other hand, if both partners work, a division of labor may make more sense.
Your money personalities come into play here a lot because one partner may enjoy the financial responsibilities and another may not. However you divide the responsibilities, each partner needs to feel heard and respected.
4. Salary Differences
It’s unlikely that you and your partner make the same amount of money (or ever will), so it’s important to be aware of this potential argument fuel.
Sometimes if one partner makes significantly more than the other, they may feel like they have more power and say over the money, especially when it comes to spending. (This may not always be a conscious thought, too). On the flip side, the partner earning less may feel as though they should contribute less to shared expenses.
The elephant in the room (salary) needs to be addressed before arguments arise. Remember, your relationship should be prioritized over both money and power. Use your salaries as tools for accomplishing your financial goals, not for winning power struggles.
5. Shared (Or Not Shared) Accounts
As I talked about in my previous article, there isn’t one right way to handle finances in a relationship. You can keep all money completely separate, combine everything, or you may decide on a hybrid approach.
When deciding which approach is best for your relationship, arguments can ensue. Some people may feel like combining all finances is just what you do and be offended at other options. Others may feel like they want to keep accounts separate because it makes them more comfortable.
Talking early and often about how you want to handle this big topic will help set you up for success. Ensure you’re always being respectful and understanding of where the other person is coming from.
How to Solve Common Money Arguments
While we can expect financial arguments to come here and there, following these steps will hopefully help prevent major issues.
Choose Proper Timing: As with any major topic, it’s important to have the right timing when you’re hashing things out. It’s not a good idea to discuss big, heavy financial topics when one of you is tired, your child is seeking attention, or you’ve had a stressful day.
If you find yourself beginning an argument, take a step back and realize that emotions
are high and neither one of you may be in your most rational state. Plan an appropriate
time to discuss the matter and stick to it! Don’t let things get swept under the rug.
This is also why it’s so important to have regular, financial meetings with your partner.
Having a plan and continually checking in will help prevent the major money arguments we discussed.
Seek Understanding: As we alluded to above, it’s crucial to seek understanding when having money conversations. Remember, your partner is coming to the table with their own unique history and experiences with money.
Instead of viewing the problem as something to win, look at it as a challenge to solve. Reserve judgment and try to appreciate your differences, you each have unique insights to bring to the table!
Divide and Conquer: Managing finances is a lot of work! During your financial meetings, divvy up responsibilities and hold one another accountable. Maybe one partner handles investment contributions while the other partner sets up automatic bill pay for the day-to-day household operations.
Reserve a Couple’s Financial Coaching Session: Having an impartial set of eyes on your communication style, debt management, budget, income, etc. can be invaluable to helping you and your partner prevent financial arguments. Financial coaches can offer strategies and support that can transform your communication and money management.
Prevent Common Money Arguments with Weathly
At Wealthly, we love to work with couples! That’s why we created specific packages just for couples who wish to experience financial freedom and improved communication.
During a couple’s financial coaching session, we can tackle topics such as communication styles, building an emergency fund, creating multiple streams of income, improving your credit, investing, maximizing retirement accounts, and more!
To see if we can help you and your partner, email us at email@example.com and join our mailing list to receive monthly money and investing tips here. We’ll be in touch soon!
Content in this material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.