Money and Relationships

How to Minimize and Handle Financial Conflicts with Your Partner

June 6, 2023
Money doesn't have to tear you and your partner apart. Here are my best tips for minimizing and handling financial conflict with your partner...
Britt and Laurie-Anne two women laughing and looking at their computers on a couch in a well-styled living room
Britt & Laurie Anne
Two female investors in their 30s with a collective net wealth of over $6 million+
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Unfortunately, I’m no stranger to financial conflict in marriage.

When I was growing up, I remember hearing my parents in the kitchen, fighting about money. I swore to myself that I would never become like that.

And then I grew up, got married, and found myself fighting with my husband just like my parents used to.

It took us a while to learn how to manage money together…and how to minimize and handle financial conflicts.

Quick disclaimer: I am not a marriage counselor, and if you and your spouse are having serious financial conflicts, I recommend seeing a trained professional.

But we’ve improved – a lot – and I’ve worked with lots of women to resolve financial conflict in marriage. And here’s what I’ve learned…

How to minimize financial conflicts in marriage

1) Talk about each other’s relationship to money

Money for many people is quite triggering. It’s hard to stay neutral and level-headed if you have your own past wounds and issues with money.

Understanding where your partner is coming from makes it much easier to navigate disagreements and respect different opinions.

So, talk about your money history with your partner. Be vulnerable. Explore your past with your partner with the intention of being able to use this information about each other to better work together on your finances.

Some topics to cover:

  • What did your parents teach you about money?
  • What do you believe about money?
  • How do you feel about money?

2) Understand each other’s money personality

You’ve heard the saying, “Opposites attract”? Well, broadly speaking, there are two types of people: savers and spenders. And sometimes these two different types fall in love and combine finances.

This can lead to conflict…especially if you’re expecting the other person to have the same mindset and thought process as you.

Savers like to prepare for the future and they can get frustrated by the spender’s desire to spend.

Spenders believe that money exists so that you can enjoy life, right here, right now.

There’s some truth in both of those mindsets, so figure out how to balance them and see the other’s perspective. Learn to appreciate the positives of each persons approach and how to identify the drawbacks of the approach.

For example, I grew up in a really thrifty family and I know how to spot a deal. My husband grew up in a family that really valued making quality investments. Learning how to shop together has required some give and take.

On commodity type of items that you use up and then they disappear, we tend to shop the way I like - sale, sale, sale! On bigger purchases that we want to last for a long time, we tend to shop the way my husband was raised - name brand, quality investments.

3) Set financial goals together

One of the most helpful things you can do to align your actions around money is to have shared financial goals.

This way, you and your partner can discuss how your behavior with money impacts the goal. So, instead of getting into a conversation about who is right and who is wrong and “oh you shouldn’t have spent that much on this,” you can look at the numbers and the implications of those choices.

For instance, “if you keep spending $200 a week on takeout, it’s going to take us an extra 6 months to pay off our debt, so I think we should reduce the amount of takeout to $50 a week.”

When you Know what you’re both working toward, it becomes much easier to become allies.

So set goals, make a plan to achieve them, and regularly check in and discuss your progress.

Believe it or not, this can be fun! Our shared financial goals is something that my husband and I really enjoy working together on. This is a fun and exciting way that we are creating our life and directing our future.

4) Agree on a budget

Once you’ve got a goal, agree how much money the two of you want to spend, save, and invest together. This way, you have a plan for your money.

A simple budgeting strategy we recommend is the 50/30/20 budget, where you spend 50% on needs, 30% on wants and put 20% into savings.

5) Prioritize financial literacy

How you and your partner manage money depends on your different personalities and lifestyle. Maybe you do most of the money management. Or maybe you trust your partner to handle the finances.

There’s no one “right” way to handle money as a couple.

But even if you do choose to let your partner do the lion’s share of money management, you should still be able to intelligently discuss your finances and financial decisions.

Understanding how money works will help you work together and create the best plan for your future.

Many of the married women who join our financial education program, Million Dollar Year, write in to tell us how much their husbands appreciate them learning about personal finances and money management…because when you’re more educated, everybody wins.

And usually these women end up taking over the family finances and do an AWESOME job getting out debt and building up their savings and managing their investments.

6) Learn to navigate conflict

Financial stress is one of the leading causes of divorce. To me, that’s scary. The last thing I would ever want is for money or a lack of money to  break up my family.

I shared earlier that I have memories of listening to my parents fight about money as a little girl and being so scared that they were going to get a divorce and my world would be torn apart.

It was really important to me to invest the time and energy it took to learn how to navigate finances with my partner. And it wasn’t easy. In the beginning every budget meeting would turn into a fight… but we stuck with it. We got better at it.

Here are my tips for handling financial conflicts when they do arise:

  1. Ask questions and listen
  2. Understand each other’s perspective
  3. Work on a solution together
  4. Make a plan
  5. Set up a weekly money ritual to practice this every week

Above all, be kind to one another. Money doesn’t have to tear the two of you apart. It can be a tool for enjoying life together and achieving your dreams.

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