The Secret to Managing Money for Couples

Money issues still rank among the top 10 reasons couples divorce, but finances are really no different than any other challenge you’ll face in marriage. And, like all other issues, the only way to overcome the problem is to bring it out in the open and discuss it. Even better, make a plan with your partner to discuss finances before it becomes a problem. If you think that you don’t have money problems and can skip the discussion, put that thought out of your mind. Not openly discussing your budget, financial goals and future money plans can only hurt your relationship.

Here are the keys to successful money talks:

Set a Meeting
Select a regularly scheduled time for meeting and put it on both your calendar and your partner’s. Be sure it is at a mutually agreeable time. Avoid times when you’ll be tired such as after work, or after the kids are in bed.

Make it Enjoyable
Your financial meeting should become something that you look forward to. Brew some good coffee or a relaxing tea. Have some snacks or maybe end your meeting by sharing a decadent dessert. Hold your meeting in a place that is comfortable and where you can talk about issues without worrying if anyone is listening.

Do Your Homework
Both you and your partner should come to the meeting prepared. Don’t rely on the other person to remember all of your financial obligations or plans. Bring any supporting documents that might be needed.

Follow the Rules of Meeting
The same rules that apply for formal meetings apply to your couple meetings.

  • Don’t interrupt the speaker.
  • Don’t be little ideas or people.
  • Don’t blame.
  • Be flexible, every idea is valid.

When You Disagree
This is not an “if”, there will be times when you disagree with how the other person handles the money.  Here’s how you get beyond arguing.

  • Stop the conversation—once blaming, or name calling or just a difference of opinion becomes apparent, stop the conversation and use one or all of the following tactics:
  • Turn Taking: This is exactly what it sounds like. Each person takes a turn to state his or her point of view. During that time the other person must listen respectfully—no eye rolling, no groaning, no making faces or other displays of disagreement.  After you’ve both stated your position you must pick out the good parts of what the other said, then you should be able to find a compromise.
  • Time Out: If you cannot come to an agreement, then agree to end the meeting and come back to the topic at a later scheduled date/time. This gives you both a chance to cool down and the perspective to see solutions.
  • Tell the Truth: Usually we become angry because things aren’t going our way. The problems come when we don’t say what we really want or what we really feel. If the rules of the meeting are followed, you should be able to say it like it is.

Set Goals
Couples can get so caught up in the grind of the budget that they forget how to dream, but setting goals is fun and gives you something to work toward together. Your goals will change and adjust during your marriage, but that’s what meeting discussions are for. Happy couples are working toward shared goals.


If you’ve got kids, bring them in on the conversations. They don’t need to part of all your meetings, but showing your kids that you and your partner discuss money is a great lesson. Share with them your financial goals and let them see the progress.

Oh, and here’s a bonus: openly discussing money management can lead to a happier and more mutually satisfying relationship.


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