Money can often cause arguments in a relationship. It’s a tricky thing to talk about.
Sometimes our emotions get the better of us, and we end up exploding about money matters. A yelling match ensues which no one ever wins leading to days, maybe even weeks, of bickering.
So how do you go about talking to your spouse about money without fighting?
We have the answer for you.
In this post, we’ll share an 8-step plan to have productive money talks with your partner that don’t end in bitter arguments.
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How To Talk To Your Spouse About Money Without Fighting
1. Schedule a money talk with your partner
When you want to talk about your finances, make it a point to tell your partner beforehand and schedule a time that works for both of you.
The last thing you want is to spring it on your partner after a long day at work! If they’ve had a rough day, the odds are the conversation may not go so well.
Give your partner a heads up so both of you can be mentally prepared for a conversation about money.
If you have kids, you could schedule this talk after their bedtime, or perhaps over the weekend when they have other activities planned.
If this is your first conversation about money with your partner, don’t expect to figure everything out in one seating.
Put aside one or two hours to get the ball rolling, but be prepared to schedule future talks to nail down the nitty-gritty details of your financial plan.
2. Share your goals and views on money
If it’s your first money talk with your partner, start with the important fundamentals.
Take turns talking about your vision for the future. Here are a few questions you can discuss:
What kind of lifestyle do you wish to have?
How long do you want to work for?
How do you imagine life after retirement?
Answering these questions allows you to better understand each other’s financial goals.
It’s also important to talk about your views on money. Couples often fight when they have different money styles.
For example, you may be a saver whereas your partner may be a spender. Arguments may arise because you have differing views on how money should be handled.
Understanding your partner’s money style and their point of view is vital for creating a shared money system that works for both of you.
Here are some questions to better understand your partner’s view on money:
How was money managed in your household growing up?
When it comes to money, do you prioritize your current or future happiness? Why?
How much do you spend? How much do you save?
Are you satisfied with your approach to money? Do you feel there’s any room for improvement?
The key here is to avoid judgment. Your partner may have a completely different approach to money, but you must respect their point of view.
Once people sense that you disapprove or look down on their ways, it’s only natural to get defensive and trigger an argument.
Focus on understanding what’s important for your partner, and communicate what’s important to you. Once you’re both clear on this, you can take the next step.
3. Review your current financial situation
This is the number-crunching phase of your money talk.
It’s time to look through bank and credit card statements, and write down your monthly income and expenses, current savings, and total debt.
The point of this exercise isn’t to assign blame. Avoid using words like ‘you’ or ‘your’. It’s not your student loans, or your credit card debt. It’s ours.
I know this sounds cheesy, but it’s important. When you start off a conversation by saying, “Alright, let’s figure out how we’re going to pay off your student loans,” it sounds like you’re assigning blame.
Pointing fingers isn’t going to change your financial situation. The only way to do that is to work together as a team.
Once you get an overview of your finances, identify what areas require your immediate attention. If you have high-interest debt, your priority should be paying off that debt.
4. Create short-term and long-term financial goals
Next, it’s time to create shared goals that you can work towards together.
Start off with short-term goals, or things you want to accomplish in the next year.
This could include things like paying off your credit card debt, saving your first $1000, or saving up for a holiday.
Also, think about your long-term goals, or things that you want to accomplish over a longer time frame, say in the next 10 to 15 years. This includes buying a house and building a nest egg.
Write your goals down clearly. Don’t just put down ‘Pay off credit card debt’. Make sure to be specific. Include how much you want to pay off and by when.
Having clearly defined deadlines provide a sense of urgency, and motivates you to take action to materialize your goals.
Put your list of goals up somewhere you can both see every day as a reminder of what you’re working towards.
5. Create a budget together
Now that you have shared financial goals, it’s time to develop a plan of action.
Create a monthly budget together to cover your expenses, debt repayments, and saving contributions.
If you have differing money styles, this is where things may get a little heated.
A saver may want to cut back on expenses and save more, whereas a spender may want to maintain certain expenses and save less.
There’s no definite right or wrong here. It’s all about compromise and what works for both of you.
Firstly, figure out how much you’ll need to put aside each month to achieve your short-term financial goals. Based on this, identify areas to cut back on as needed.
Ideally, all spending on non-essential things can be reduced. However, it’s not always so straightforward.
If you or your partner enjoy eating out and gain great satisfaction from exploring the local food scene, you don’t have to cut out this expense entirely.
Instead of eating out every week, you could eat out every other week, and visit budget-friendly restaurants in your area.
For your budget to be sustainable, you and your partner must allow room to do the things that you enjoy. Otherwise, it begins to feel too restrictive, and you’re less likely to stick to your budget.
Also, put aside a little fun money for each of you, if possible. This gives you a little wiggle room to treat yourselves every now and then.
If you need a little help to get started, check out our free excel budget template. You can use this template to create your monthly budget and track your daily expenses with ease.
As you input your expenses, you can also see how much you have left for each of your budget categories (e.g. groceries, transportation), and adjust your spending accordingly.
6. Divide the work
Alright, on to the next order of business!
Who pays the power bill? The water bill? The mortgage? Who keeps track of receipts and expenses? It’s time to figure this out!
If you don’t discuss this beforehand, something is bound to fall through the cracks and lead to an argument.
List down all the things that need to be done to stay on top of your finances, and divide the work between you and your partner.
Avoid doing everything yourself, or letting your partner do it all. You’re a team, so divide the tasks equally and work together towards achieving your goals.
7. Have regular money talks
You now have a financial plan in place!
That’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not the end. It’s important to have regular money talks to track your progress.
During these talks, make it a point to share your point of view with your partner. If something isn’t working for you, voice it out.
Perhaps you enjoy going to the movies, and the current budget is too limiting for you. Share how you feel with your partner and figure out whether you can cut back elsewhere and go to movies once or twice a month.
The same goes for your partner. Encourage them to express how they’re doing, and find ways to resolve any concerns they may have.
Discuss and tweak your plan along the way to create a sustainable financial system that works for both of you.
8. Celebrate your wins
Track your progress towards your goals, and celebrate your wins together!
Hit your first savings goal? Treat yourself to a date night with the fun money you have put aside.
Working together to create and implement a financial plan, and celebrating wins together bolsters teamwork and motivates you to keep striving for your goals as a team.