Avoiding Financial Stress In A Relationship: 7 Tips for Improved Finances


According to the American Institute of CPAs, 73% of married or cohabiting couples experience stress-related directly to their finances. Money is one of the leading causes of divorce in the US; 1 in 4 marriages that end in divorce in the US do so because of money.

Poor money management, debt, and tight budgets can impact your ability to have a healthy relationship, and neglecting to address your financial concerns, behaviors, and patterns can make your life harder than it needs to be and put undue strain on your relationship.

This is impacted even more by secrecy around spending, budgeting, and money habits both parties have that negatively impact your aptitude to make money, spend money, or pay your bills on time.

As a couple, you need to be on the same page as each other to enable you to have a deeper understanding of where you stand financially and to support each other in making good decisions.

If you don't want to be one of those couples that fall into the above statistics, then you need to address your finances as a couple. But how can you do this without it making things worse?

Be Honest

In the first instance, you need to be honest with yourself about your financial habits, current financial status, and what you expect of your partner or suspect your partner is doing regarding your money.

You cannot begin to make changes to how you approach your finances if you aren't being honest with yourself and others. So before you do anything else, make sure you are able to face up to what is happening and aren't covering anything up; everything needs to be put out in the open for all involved parties to know about.

Start Talking

Miscommunication around money happens because one or both parties choose not to disclose information to their partners. Once you have completed the above step, you need to make time for you both to sit down together and talk about everything concerning your finances.

This isn't going to be fun and will most likely be uncomfortable, but it is the only way you will find out where you both stand and what is going on, especially if you are sharing joint finances or are planning to in the future.

You need to discuss topics such as

  • Income
  • Debt
  • Savings
  • Spending
  • Credit scores
  • Financial plans
  • Financial attitudes
  • Knowledge

The more you know about where you both are and, are again, honest about everything, the easier it will be to get things moving in the right direction.

But these conversations shouldn't be a one-time thing; they need to be something you keep coming back to time and time again to ensure you're both still on the same page.

Tips for holding these conversations include

  • Stay calm - overreacting and getting angry isn't going to resolve anything. You need to stay calm and level-headed.

  • Take time - you need to allow time for you to have a conversation. Put it in your schedule and remove as many disruptions as possible so you can get stuck into the discussion.

  • See each other's viewpoint - avoid refusing to see other views than yours. Everyone is different and, as such, will have learned or picked up additional information and habits. Being open to learning more about how your partner approaches money and what they know about budgeting and finances can help you better understand how they act and vice versa.

  • Have goals in mind from the discussion - not numerical financial goals, simply goals for this discussion. Do you want your partner to admit to poor money habits and help them get things back on track? Do you want to move towards joint or separate finances? Or did you just need to understand your current financial position and where you stand right now? Knowing what you want to get from the discussion will help you to keep things on track.

Find Common Ground and Set Boundaries

If you both have different viewpoints or attitudes towards money, i.e., one of you is a staunch advocate for saving while the other wants to spend it because you can't take it with you when you die, then you need to find some common ground. Respecting each other's opinions and making decisions that appeal to both of you within reason can help you move forward and find what works for you as a couple that won't drive a wedge between you both and cause ongoing conflict.

However, you still need to have boundaries and limits in place so you know what you will and won't tolerate. Especially if you have or are looking at joint accounts, be clear on what you are willing to share, i.e., having a household account but keeping disposable income separate, and what you expect of each other.

Both of you need to be on the same page here regarding what your boundaries are so they can be respected in the future.

Set A Budget and Goals

Once you are clear on where you both stand and your financial status, you need to put a budget in place and set financial goals.

Your budget needs to include all of your significant expenses as a couple relating to your bills, such as

  • Rent/Mortgage

  • Utilities

  • Taxes

  • Groceries

  • Transport/travel/commuting

  • Insurances

  • Credit card repayments 

  • Loans and so on.

Look at all of your primary outgoings first, such as your rent and utilities, and then look at what is left over to help you create a budget for everything else.

Once you have your budget figured out and you know exactly what money you have left over, you can then make goals. Your financial goals can look like

  • Starting savings accounts

  • Paying off debts

  • Saving for retirement

  • Increasing your income

  • Reducing frivolous spending, etc

If, for example, one or both of you are carrying a lot of debt, you need to set goals to clear this debt and move towards a better financial position. This could be talking to creditors to see what your options are, starting side hustles such as selling teaching materials to generate additional income to pay off your debts, or reconfiguring what you owe to allow you to pay it faster. Set goals, put plans into action that you can follow through with, and give yourself a set time to achieve them.

Remember, you both need to be on the same page regarding your budget and goals, so you both stick to them and avoid creating additional conflict and upset by reneging on what you agreed to.

Financial Literacy

It can be a good idea to both learn more about financial literacy and even take it because you feel it's warranted. Financial literacy is being able to understand various financial skills and put them into practice.

It can help you to make smart money decisions and avoid making financial mistakes that will impact your life. This knowledge includes things like knowing how much to save, your ideal debt-to-income ratio and what that means for you, what favorable interest rates are, how your spending and credit habits impact your credit score, and what your credit score is made up of.

Achieving financial literacy means you can avoid making poor or uneducated money decisions and be confident that you know exactly what you are doing. For couples, this means that you both hold the same knowledge, and you each know the other one understands the impact of their financial decisions.

Share The Load

It's not a good idea for one person to take on all or the bulk of financial management or spending. The stress of managing the money in the relationship can cause cracks to appear and is unfair to the designated party.

Like your relationship, it dhould be a shared responsibility with both of you doing your part and working as a team.

However, before managing joint finances, you need to be confident managing your own finances first, or it could be a bad mistake. But if you've been confidently managing your own finances, then taking the next step to joint finances can help you strengthen your relationship.

Take It Slow

Don't rush into anything. Your finances won't miraculously change after one meeting or honest discussion. It will take time, perseverance, and commitment for both of you to improve your finances and ensure that you are not working together toward the same goal.

Start by proving you are able to manage your own finances and reach smaller goals, then work towards merging certain accounts and making more significant financial decisions, such as getting a joint mortgage or paying into a joint retirement fund to support your future.

If you don't want money to be the downfall of your relationship, then you need to face up to your situation, both good and bad, and be willing to talk through what you need to do as a couple to help you retain a healthy financial future and not develop bad habits that can impact your ability to prosper together.

*Collaborative Post


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