How To Talk To Your Spouse About Money Without Fighting

Husband and Wife going over their finances to get on the same page about money

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Talking about money with your spouse can be a touchy subject, and financial issues are among the top reasons for divorce. By having healthy money conversations without fighting, you and your spouse can improve your finances and lives together.

Money touches most aspects of our lives and is personal to each of us. With money causing a lot of daily stress, it can be tough to discuss, especially if you or your spouse have issues managing money.

In this article, we'll discuss how to talk to your spouse about money without fighting.

Talk About One Another’s Dreams

Money is a tough topic, and if you find that you and your spouse frequently argue about it, then it's time to work on your communication. First, find some time where you both can get away from the hustle and bustle of the typical day and have a conversation about where you'd both like to be in the next 5, 10, and 20 years. Some common topics to touch upon include:

  • Where would you like to go on vacation in the future?
  • Are you happy with your current home? Would you like to move to a bigger house or a home in a better location?
  • What would you like to do more of on the weekends?
  • What are some fun things you would do if money were more abundant?

The theme here is keeping your money conversation positive and oriented around what each of you look forward to in the future. By talking about your dreams together in a relaxing setting, you'll be able to come up with money goals together, leading to reduced tension that you may have around your finances.

Be Empathetic and Understanding

Financial problems are one of the most common reasons for divorce among married couples. When discussing money together, the best thing you can be with each other is empathetic and understanding.

At times, you may both disagree or have different views on how to handle specific financial situations. Attacking one another is counterproductive, as is assigning blame or making “all or nothing” statements such as “You always overspend,” or “You'll never get us out of debt.” Instead, keep an open mind and listen to your spouse as they express their ideas and concerns. You or your spouse may have made poor financial decisions in the past, but by working together, the two of you can wade through the past to create a better financial future for both of you.

Allow Conversations To Be a Two-Way Street

When discussing money, it's important to have honest communication in both directions. If one person is directing the conversation too much, the other may feel like they have no say or that their opinion isn't important. This may lead to more money fights which is opposite of what you're trying to achieve. Allow your spouse to finish speaking before you take your turn. Validate your partner's words and then add to the conversation with your own thoughts.

Create An Overview Of Your Finances

Create an overview of your family's finances. This includes listing out how much money you have in your bank accounts – such as your checking accounts, savings accounts, and emergency fund – as well as money found in any retirement and investment accounts. In addition, determine how much debt you have, including mortgages, car loans, and student loan debt, credit card debt, and so on.

Writing out your current financial situation also helps you determine your net worth, which is a useful number to track. You can track everything in a spreadsheet or use an app like Personal Capital. Personal Capital allows you to connect all of your accounts in one place and tracks your transactions, the value of what you have, what you owe, and your net worth.

It can feel overwhelming to write down your financial situation in one place, especially if you have a lot of debt. With that in mind, remember that you and your spouse are a team, and you have to look at all of your income and debt as both of yours. That is, it doesn't matter who the debt or the income belongs to; as a team, it belongs to both of you. Helping your spouse pay off their debt is up to you, too, because as a married couple, you are a single unit.

Forgive Past Money Mistakes

Financial infidelity is when spouses with combined finances lie to each other about money. This could be lying about how money is spent, substantial debt, or one spouse hiding a large sum of money from the other. Regardless of what has caused frustration in the past, if you and your partner are going to be a stronger team going forward, then both of you need to forgive one another for what happened in the past. Instead of letting feelings fester, communicate openly with one another and come to a resolution. As a team, it doesn't make sense to hold on to grudges, as this won't help either of you move forward.

Come Up With Short-Term and Long-Term Financial Goals Together

As you think about your future financial plan, come up with both short-term and long-term financial goals together. By coming up with common goals as a team, you'll be able to reach them together better.

Here are some ideas for short-term goals:

Once you've set goals for the more immediate future, come up with some long-term goals as well. These may include:

  • Pay off the mortgage
  • Get completely out of debt
  • Go on a luxurious vacation
  • Put your children through college
  • Retire earlier than initially planned

Good goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based (SMART goals).

Determine Who Will Do What

Money management is everyone's strong point, so as a team, it makes sense to divide the responsibilities in ways you both see fit. For example, one of you could pay the bills while the other might be in charge of monitoring your overall finances. Each person has their own strengths, and finding which of you are best suited for each task in maintaining your family finances will set you both up for success.

Here are some common tasks to break up among you and your spouse:

  • Creating the household budget
  • Tracking monthly spending
  • Reviewing bank account balances
  • Paying monthly bills
  • Going over investment accounts
  • Setting up autopay on common bills
  • On a regular basis, reviewing where money can be saved
  • Transferring or setting up auto-transfers to the savings account

Try out different ways of dividing the responsibilities until both of you are comfortable with what you're each in charge of.

Create a Monthly Budget

You've sat down and had one or more financial discussions. Now, it's time to create a budget. A spreadsheet is one of the best ways to create a budget. You can download our home budget spreadsheet here or create one of your own. If spreadsheets aren't your thing, then a paper budget or an app like YNAB (You Need A Budget) works great.

Write down the family income and then review your credit card and bank statements to determine how much money you're spending on different things.

If you're new to budgeting, check out our guide on how to create a budget for beginners, which breaks down budgeting into simple steps.

Demonstrate Good Money Habits

If your partner has bad money habits, focus on setting good money habits for yourself so that you can help them learn good habits as well. This works better rather than pointing out their money problems in a negative manner.

People learn better by being shown versus being told. For example, by showing good money habits, your spouse will see that you're serious and that it's important to you.

Celebrate Financial Wins Together

As you spend time going over your finances, look for financial wins that you two have accomplished. Did you pay down a credit card? Were you able to make extra payments towards one of your student loans? Did you meet or beat your savings goal for three months in a row?

By celebrating financial wins together, you and your spouse will find positive things to reflect upon as you tackle the tougher financial issues together.

Update Your Plan Regularly

After you've come to a mutual understanding and decided who will do what, follow the plan for a few months. Sit down again and see how everything is progressing. Are both of you happy with your financial responsibilities? Do you both feel that you're confident in the tasks assigned? Has your money situation begun to improve?

After reviewing your plan and progress, update your plan with your partner as you two see fit. Perhaps you've identified opportunities to save more money, and you want to pay down a credit card, or perhaps it's time to save for one or more big purchases, like a new car or house. As time changes, so will your financial plans.

Be Patient

Good things take time, and you and your partner are in it for the long run. If your partner struggles with money, you'll need to be patient with them and help them improve. That means being patient and not judging them for an occasional slip-up. Remember, don't let your emotions get the best of you. To have a better relationship means being patient with one another as each of you works to improve your handling of money.

Wrapping It Up

In this article, we discussed how to talk to your spouse about money without fighting. Financial conversations can be challenging to navigate at times, so sitting down in a quiet, calm place will help you and your spouse work through current money issues.  Remember to be empathetic, understanding, and respectful to your partner as you would want them to be to you. You've committed your lives to one another, and even when times are tough, you can continue to work together to better them.

16 thoughts on “How To Talk To Your Spouse About Money Without Fighting”

  1. Honestly, this was hard for me at first! My partner had a completely different spending pattern than I did, and after a while we sat down and literally wrote everything out. He’s a splurger, I’m a saver. Somehow we did find a middle ground though 😉

  2. Hi, this is an interesting post. I have never thought about having shared finances with my partner. Food for thought, thanks for sharing.

  3. Very good tips, a lot of couples struggle with finances and even get divorce so its important to have these important conversations even before marriage to assess financial and long term goal compatibilities.

  4. Oh my goodness, this is really good information. I believe this post tells me a lot about how to have a financially stable marriage. These are things people don’t usually talk about before you get married. Thanks for sharing…

  5. Thanks for the informative and important article. We all want to thrive in our relationships, and good communication helps us to set financial goals together.

  6. hi
    this is such a great article. I especially like the suggestion wherein we would both sit together over breakfast at a neutral venue and talk about this important aspect

  7. For me this is not an issue since I live by myself. I guess it’s a question of compromising – as on every other level, too.

  8. Kenneth

    very good article,,,will share it with my wife working abroad is not an easy thing.need to save while the opportunity are still available.already invest for a home and education,and before i stop will invest for a small business..

  9. Luckily this isn’t a problem for me s we’re always in communication and have similar spending habits and ways of saving.

  10. These are all great suggestions even just for a healthy marriage. I was feeling pretty good and thinking my husband and I do all of the points you mentioned, then I saw about setting up a retirement plan and we have definitely not done this. I will have to keep it in mind, thank you!

  11. Seems like open communication is by far the best way to get your spouse and yourself on the same page financially! There is no doubt that money can cause tons of problems in any relationship. So I love how you give tips on planning together and making strong goals that you both can reasonably acheive!

  12. absolutely good tips shared, this is extremely important not just for spouse, also applicable to those family members sharing same household expenses & commitment too. cheers, siennylovesdrawing

  13. This is truly an art to balance the two sides and come to a consensus regarding financing. Thanks for sharing and insights. – Knycx Journeying

  14. Monidipa

    The points are really great. Many couples fight over money. It’s no secret that money is one of the leading causes of divorce. … Even if divorce or a break up isn’t an option of you, being on the same page is a great way to reduce stress and arguments in your marriage or relationship.

  15. This is such a wonderful article. I am sending it to my fiancé we are on the same page for the most part, but it doesn’t hurt to still learn and expand on what we do. So we can stay that way.

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