How to Deal with Relationship Problems that Involve Money & Spending

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Couples often fight over money. The question at the core of these spats is really whether both partners value the same things. Problems arise when one partner is more spendthrift than the other, when one partner makes more money than the other or when one partner maintains more control and less transparency. The solution to most problems is open discussion and compromise.

Discuss Money Openly

Money is a touchy subject, but the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center recommends that couples discuss it openly anyway. Talk about how spending is prioritized, who makes financial decisions, who works and who doesn’t, and how much disposable income each partner will have.

Solve Problems Together

One partner’s problem is a problem for both, says Liz Weston, personal finance columnist for MSN Money and author of the book "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy." Resentment over money can spill over into other aspects of your relationship and weaken the bond between you, so don’t ignore your partner’s complaints. If your partner feels she doesn’t have enough disposable income, it is not just “her” problem, it is a problem for you both to solve.

Develop a Working System

Part of the discussion involves developing a working system for spending and saving money, says Weston. She recommends tracking expenses before you create a budget so that you know how much money you are working with and where it is allocated. Then, figure out what works for you: Pool all of the money; keep accounts completely separate; pool a portion of the money and keep some individual income.

Stay Transparent

An article in The Guardian newspaper reported that 10 couples interviewed about how they split their finances said most financial disagreements were over one partner’s transparency. One couple kept their finances documented with an Excel spreadsheet and reported satisfaction with their financial lives. In another example, a woman was angry with her husband because she paid for everything while his finances remained opaque. Even if you keep some individual spending freedom, stay transparent about finances with your significant other.