fighting about money

The truth is that there isn’t one single solution to stop financial arguments. Still, a combination of tactics such as effective communication, transparency, and goal setting with your partner can help. 

For most couples, being in a long-term relationship will mean arguments about money. Whether you are dating, engaged, or married, chances are that there will be times when you fight about finances with your partner. And those issues are often exacerbated for couples who share their money and live together. 

So what happens when these fights become more than just a few occurrences? How can couples avoid fighting about money? Keep reading for helpful solutions to end those arguments over finances. 

Learn Effective Communication To Stop Fights

One of the first things you can do to stop fighting about money is better communication with your partner. 

Communication Tips for Managing Money in RelationshipsAdditional Notes
1. Better communication is crucial for resolving money conflicts in relationships.Build trust through honesty about financial concerns.
2. Express concerns about spending neutrally to avoid accusations or condescension.Use “I” statements and choose words carefully.
3. Communicate openly to prevent resentment buildup; schedule regular financial check-ins.Address concerns promptly to prevent festering.
4. Clearly and calmly state concerns with specific examples for understanding.Illustrate concerns to help your partner understand.
5. Actively listen, practicing reflective listening and validating your partner’s feelings.Avoid interruptions and show understanding.
6. Being heard contributes to your partner’s sense of security; create a judgment-free environment.Encourage sharing without judgment.
7. Recognize and understand each other’s communication styles, especially regarding money matters.Discuss preferred communication styles.
8. Accommodate differences in communication styles to foster effective financial conversations.Find common ground for communication.
9. Some partners may be overly direct about money, while others may struggle with discussing financial issues.Identify individual communication tendencies.
10. Passive-aggressive communication styles can lead to stagnant fights and issues, harming the relationship.Address passive-aggressive tendencies.
11. Learning to accommodate each other’s communication styles is essential for critical financial conversations.Develop strategies for effective compromise.
12. Proper communication helps prevent money discussions from escalating into fights, promoting understanding.Emphasize the importance of open dialogue.

Continue reading to learn more about each:

When stating your concerns or comments about spending, do so in a neutral way rather than coming off as accusatory or condescending, which can definitely happen when discussing money. Also, make sure that you say everything on your mind so things like resentment don’t build up. By clearly and calmly stating your concerns, your issues can be heard and potentially worked on if needed. 

For many people, listening is the hardest part of effective communication but is essential for finances. Make sure you hear what your partner is saying and acknowledge their perspective before providing them with yours. Simply being listened to may be enough for another person to feel secure during a financial talk. 

Lastly, to have money conversations effectively, you should understand each other’s communication styles. For example, one partner may be overly direct with all things money. At the same time, the other person in the relationship may struggle with talking about money issues at all—a huge difference in communication styles. 

In other cases, both people may be passive-aggressive communicators with financial responsibilities and other matters, which can leave fights and issues stagnant, hurting the relationship. Whatever communication styles you and your partner have, learn to accommodate each other in the critical financial conversations you have.

With proper communication, you can have conversations about money without escalating into fights. 

Honesty, Transparency, and Accountability About Spending Money

According to a study conducted by The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), two in five Americans have committed financial infidelity—lied to their partner about their personal finances.1 Lying or being deceptive about money can lead to broken trust, arguments, and can even be a dealbreaker for many people. According to the same study, about 16% of couples with financial infidelity do not make it! 

And so, being honest with your partner and holding yourself accountable when you spend money is critical to a healthy relationship. Honesty can also definitely help avoid money fights. 

Combine Your Finances for a Better Relationship

A recent study conducted in the APA’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that combining your finances with a partner actually improves the longevity of a relationship. And so, if you haven’t integrated your finances with your partner yet, consider doing so. 

Starting with a joint bank account (checking or a savings account) is pretty simple. With your partner, you can head to your local bank, credit union, or depository institution. There are many ways that pooling your finances can help prevent a fight about money. It can help two people look at their money differently, understand their partner’s spending habits, and create accountability. 

Goal Setting and Budgeting With Your Partner 

Being on the same page with money can be another way to reduce financial stress and prevent money fights. One way to get on the same page is to set money goals together and use budgeting as a tool to reach those goals. Creating a budget for couples can be more work than an individual budget. Still, it is worth the work, as it can help you track your income and expenses and help you come up with a financial plan to achieve your goals. Here are some examples of money goals that many households and couples have: 

Paying off Credit Card Debt and Other Consumer Debt Like Loans 

Many couples can come into a relationship with their own debt, and married couples may have joint debt they are paying back. For many couples, the goal of wanting to eliminate or reduce debt is a big one, especially if they are struggling to pay other monthly bills because of it. 

Whether it is student debt, payday loans, title loans, personal loan options, or credit cards, paying off debt will improve your financial situation by increasing your usable income. By doing so, you can reduce the amount of financial stress that debt puts on a relationship.

Building Retirement Accounts

Planning for retirement is another goal that couples, especially married couples, think about when they consider financial planning. Most Americans start planning for retirement in their twenties and contribute to a 401k plan from their employer as a starting point. Retirement plans and savings can make a big difference in your future as a couple. 

Having Solid Savings Accounts for Emergencies

This is one of the most common goals couples have with their money. Most money experts recommend that a household has at least three months of savings in their emergency fund. Whether you want to create individual savings accounts or a single one for each person, having savings will help prevent debt and increase financial security for both people in a relationship. 

Saving for a Down Payment on a Large Purchase

A large purchase like a car or a home is another financial goal that many couples have. A purchase like a car can only require a few thousand dollars, if any, as a down payment. While looking to buy a home in the future, you will need around 20% down, which can be several thousands of dollars. A budget can help you start a savings plan for whatever purchase you plan to make as a couple.

Planning Major Milestones

Marriage, a graduate degree, travel, or family planning are just some of the goals that couples think about when in a serious relationship together. If you and your partner are thinking about these milestones in your future, you will have to figure out how you will pay for them. Creating a budget to help ensure both parties are on the same page with their financial goals can make it easier to save and may eliminate a potential fight about money. 

These are just a handful of money goals that couples have. Whether you have a joint income or not, having a financial plan can help both parties prioritize their spending, add transparency, and make it easier to talk about money. It can also make it easier to plan your life and next steps around what you can afford while keeping your goals intact. For example, you may change your buying habits, downsize, or consider moving to one of the many cities with the best opportunities for couples. 

So, if you don’t have a budget or financial goals, talk to your partner or spouse, set some time aside, and start!

Learning Compromise To Stop Fighting 

Many couples fight because compromising about money can be difficult. However, compromising is essential for working out any issue that you are having within a relationship, including money problems. 

Compromising needs to balance the things you want and the things that your partner wants. For example, let’s say you want to save money for a pay period while your partner wants to go out. A good compromise could be splitting that money, putting some into savings, and using the rest for a night out. 

Talk to a Professional About Your Money Problems and Maybe Your Relationship 

If you and your partner are having trouble figuring out solutions to make your money work for you, a professional may be able to help. Financial planners, also known as financial advisors, help people create an extremely detailed plan with their money. 

Along with individuals, they can work with couples sharing their finances. They can help you figure out the best way for you and your partner to save and spend money and even help with things like investing. Keep in mind that you will have to pay an annual fee of around a minimum of $2,000 and potential per-hour fees. For some couples, this amount may be worth not having to deal with finances themselves. 

Having a third party point out the best use of your money can help you and your partner or spouse avoid a potential fight about money or lessen the intensity of an argument since either person is not managing the money yourselves. 

Talk to a Couple’s Counselor

Although a couple’s counselor isn’t going to help you plan your finances, they can help you learn about communication styles, confront your deepest fears regarding money in your relationship, provide tools for better communication, and help you better understand your partner. Individual counseling for each partner can also be helpful in better communication. 

These tools may not get rid of money problems, but they can help you reflect on feelings like frustration without taking it out on your partner. It may also decrease the intensity of your money fights, which can be a massive issue for many couples. Or help with avoiding fights altogether. 

FAQS

How can couples achieve financial independence while managing a joint checking account?

Achieving financial independence in a relationship, even with a joint checking account, involves setting clear boundaries and responsibilities. Each partner should have a say in spending decisions and the freedom to manage their own finances while jointly contributing to shared expenses and goals.

What are effective strategies to stop money fights in a relationship?

To stop these fights, it’s crucial to establish open and honest communication, set shared goals with money, respect each other’s spending habits, and create a budget that works for both partners. Regularly discussing finances in a calm and understanding manner can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts.

How can couples handle money arguments without letting them escalate?

Handling money arguments without escalation involves actively listening to each other’s concerns, avoiding blame, and focusing on solutions rather than problems. It’s important to recognize and address any negative associations with money and work together to find common ground.

Is it true that more than half of relationship conflicts are due to financial issues?

While it’s not universally true for all relationships, money issues are a significant source of conflict for many couples. More than half of some relationship conflicts can stem from financial disagreements, emphasizing the need for effective financial communication and planning.

When should couples seek professional advice for their financial problems?

Couples should get professional advice when they consistently struggle to resolve financial conflicts, make significant financial decisions, or feel overwhelmed by their financial situation. A financial advisor or counselor can provide expert guidance and help in developing a comprehensive financial plan.

How can individual spending decisions impact a couple’s financial health?

Individual spending decisions can significantly impact a couple’s financial health, especially if they lead to spending more money than budgeted or accumulating debt. It’s important for partners to discuss and agree on major spending decisions and understand how their own habits affect their joint money goals.

How can couples ensure they spend less money and save more effectively?

To spend less and save more effectively, couples should create a realistic budget that tracks their income and expenses, set clear savings goals, and make conscious spending decisions. Regularly reviewing and adjusting the budget can help in identifying areas to cut back on expenses and increase savings.

The Bottom Line With CreditNinja

Most couples have financial disagreements. Whether you have been married to your spouse for years or are in a relatively new relationship, constant fighting can lead to a strained relationship. The good news is that there are several things couples can do to stop fighting about money. 

Communicating effectively, setting goals for your future together, being honest about spending, combining finances, and seeking professional help are all things you can pursue with your partner. With these tools in place, you will likely see fewer fights about money and a better relationship with your partner. To learn more about money management as a couple or individually, check out CreditNinja’s dojo!

References: 

  1. 2 in 5 Americans Admit to Financial Infidelity Against Their Partner | Nefe
  2. Pooling finances and relationship satisfaction | Psycnet
  3. What to Know About Financial Advisor Fees and Costs | US News

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