February 23, 2023

a couple discussing finances

Image by Hernandez & Sorokina Lith / Stocksy

February 23, 2023

Invest in your well-being: In this financial wellness series, we’re diving into how to better budget for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Welcome to Wellth Check.


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If there’s one thing that can affect a relationship, it’s money. Here’s the good news however: If you and your honey can figure out how to talk about money and navigate your finances together, you just may live happily ever after. The experts weigh in on three strategies that can help you do just that.  

Set shared goals

The team that truly plays together wins. Having shared financial goals can help couples align their priorities and make decisions about how to manage their money. Those goals can be long-term (like saving for retirement and buying a house) and short-term (like paying off debt or saving for a vacation). “Having a plan in place can help couples avoid overspending and keep them focused on their goals,” says Brianda Teterukov, a licensed couple’s therapist.

To up the odds of reaching those goals, establish ground rules. These can be anything from setting a monthly spending limit to discussing major purchases before making them. “Having parameters and sticking to them helps couples stay on the same page and avoid conflict,” says Candace Kotkin-De Carvalho, a licensed social worker.

Come up with compromises on points where you differ. Say one person thinks it’s important to have an automatic deposit into a college fund for the kids and the other wants to make monthly deposits depending upon other expenses. A compromise could be that they put a minimal amount on auto-deposit and then review adding additional money month to month. “This way both people’s needs are met,” says Samantha Daniels, relationship expert and match-maker. 


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Decide what’s mine, yours, and ours

One big question for couples is whether to merge finances or not. There’s no right or wrong answer, it depends on you two and your preferences and boundaries. Some prefer to keep all money separate, others to merge everything, or have a joint money pot and each their own. “Discuss the pros and cons of all options and find a solution that works best for both partners,” says Callisto Adams, Ph.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist.

A flip side to this coin is how to divide expenses. You may split some bills evenly; others may be the responsibility of one partner who has substantially more income. Again, find what works for you two. 

Compromise is critical. “Most couples have a spender and a saver. Both are valid but need to be balanced with the other. Partners don’t want to feel controlled by their partner on little purchases. I recommend couples have ‘mad money’ as part of their budget that they pull out in cash each month and spend however they want. This creates freedom yet it’s still part of the budget both partners agreed to,” says Wyatt Fisher, a psychologist and relationship coach.

Talk openly and honestly about money

For sure the least romantic topic is money. But just like you two need pillow talk, you need money conversations. Failure to communicate about finances just might deeply affect your relationship.

Money conversations are often uncomfortable for couples because they can involve tough topics like debt, the overspending of one partner, or their inability to save. But avoiding them won’t make the problems disappear. 

“The number one way to keep money from influencing relationships is communication. Transparency and candid conversations about finances can improve a couple’s relationship as it develops trust. No one is left in the dark,” says Aviva Pinto, a registered investment advisor.

Not talking can also open the door for financial infidelity, when one partner is being financially dishonest with the other, either through secret spending, hiding debt, or keeping financial secrets. Financial infidelity can have devastating consequences for relationships, as it can lead to a lack of trust and feelings of betrayal that you can’t overcome.

“I encourage couples to allocate a specific time to discuss finances on a regular basis. Having conversations when someone comes home from work can be emotionally activating for some. With planned discussions, both partners may be mentally and emotionally prepared to engage in honest conversations,” says Stephanie Wong, a licensed clinical psychologist.

Truth is, conflicts over money are normal. What’s important is how you handle them. Says Kotkin-De Carvalho, “Money conversations are ongoing, not something you focus on once in a while. Remain empathetic, practice healthy communication, and find solutions together. Keep working as a team!”


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