Family, Money Management, Motivation

Is It Really Possible To Talk With Your Spouse About Finances Without Getting Into An Argument?

Yes. It is entirely possible to talk with your spouse about finances without getting into an argument. My wife and I have never really argued (that much) about money, but that was mainly due to the fact that we never really talked about money money, period. But, as soon as we started thinking about getting out of debt (and getting our financial house in order) I realized, up front, that we needed to have system in place that would prevent us from arguing about money. (I’m a complete nerd. I actually used the word “system”. My wife, who is a normal person, looked at me and burst out laughing. She said, “You are such a dork. Get out of here with your ‘system’.) She’s cool like that. But, I pressed the issue, and created the system anyway. Because I’m cool like that! Over the past three years, we’ve learned to talk to each other about our finances. Of course, I’m using my “system”. My wife? She’s simply having a conversation.

  1. We talk about goals.  I like to focus on short-term goals while she likes to think long-term.  So, when I designed the plan to get out of debt, I focused on the short-term goal of being debt free AND the long-term goal of retiring before we both turn 60.  After seeing where we could be in 30 years, my wife was “on board”.
  2. We talk about our family’s future.  My wife is a super-mom and she is totally pro-kids.  So, whenever we make a financial decision, we always remember to think about the long-term impact that decision might have on our kids’ futures.  It’s SO much easier to save when your goal is “personal” and not simply “financial”.  My wife is not fully-funding an ESA, she’s making sure our daughter can go to a great college.  She’s not maximizing our retirement contributions, she’s thinking about the trips we’ll take when we have retired.  See, I enjoy thinking about the mathematics, the interest rates, the financial possibilities.  I like to think about the money itself.  My wife, on the other hand, likes to think about what the money represents.
  3. I don’t have any money.  My wife doesn’t have any money.  We have money.  For us, marriage is not a ‘trial run’.  We are in this thing for the long haul.  For us, that means that our finances are combined.  Quite literally, what’s hers is mine and what’s mine is hers.  Once that was established, there is no need to compare salaries, benefits, hours worked, jobs around the house, etc.  We are more than a “team”.  We are more than a family.  We are family.  My wife is the most important person in my life and I treat her like a princess.  I think about what I can do to make her life better, easier, more fulfilled, and more enjoyable.  She does the same for me.  I bring my strengths to the table and she brings hers.
  4. My wife trusts me.  Plain and simple, if I make a decision about our finances, my wife trusts me.  Like I said before, my wife focuses on the long-term while I focus on the short-term.  We work together to create our budget, but she trusts me to ‘do what’s best’ for our future.  Frankly, I cannot imagine being married to someone that I didn’t trust.
  5. We only talk about money when it’s time to talk about money.  For us, we talk about money once or twice a month, and that’s it.  Seriously, if I thought that we had to talk about money more than that, I’d feel like I had a poor plan in place.  We create our budget, we get out cash, we pay our bills, and we live.  We do not talk about money on the way to an event, before church, during lunch, or late at night.  We set aside 15 or 20 minutes a month and that’s it.

Talking about money, with anyone, can be difficult.  Talking about money, with your spouse, can be downright frustrating.  My wife and I have learned to “major on the majors and minor on the minors”.  I guess you could say that we put the marriage first, and ourselves second.

One last thing, and maybe this should have been the way to start this post, my wife is really cool about almost everything.  Seriously, I cannot imagine being married to anyone else.  She’ll walk through the room, see me typing a post, and just shake her head, giggling to herself.  But, she’s also proud of me.  I think. 🙂

19 thoughts on “Is It Really Possible To Talk With Your Spouse About Finances Without Getting Into An Argument?

  1. I agree whole heartedly that communication is king. My wife and I discuss finances at least twice a month, and it gages our habits on if we eat out, if we go to the movies, or if we really need that piece of merchandise.

    All five points are excellent building blocks to establishing a well-working communication bridge between partners.

  2. I guess its safe to assume that you do the finances in your family and not your wife. Would you trust her to manage them? I don’t mean in the sense that you trust her not to spend ridiculously, I mean in the sense that you trust her to make good/reasonable financial decisions.

    Also, are there things that put you in the reverse position, You plan / sketch out the goals together but your wife handles the execution?

  3. Great post. And very timely…my wife and I were just talking not about finances but the way we talk about them with each other and it appears we have a very similar dynamic in our relationship. She’s very normal and naturally mindful of money and I need a system to stay focused and on track.

  4. The Rockette and I do have a monthly budget meeting. I normally do all the finances, but once a month I print out some stuff from Mircosoft Money, and we meet. We usually plan it over a long car ride, and it tends to work out great. We both usually have time to prepare to respect and listen to each other. And sometimes if there is not much going one, we skip a month or two.

    I agree that it takes a lot of hard work to have really good communication.

  5. My wife and I do fine talking about money. I do handle the finances, but I keep her involved every step of the way. I also print out reports she can read so she always knows how much we have were, what we’re spending on, etc. We sit down and review the report once a month, and about once a week we’ll sit down and review where all the money in our paychecks for that week are going.

  6. Great post NCN, and in particular your focus on WE and the “our money” part. I think that word is forgotten a lot in marriage in general and in particular when discussing finances. When you start hearing lots of “I’s” in the conversation, the problem isn’t generally the finances but the lack of communication and recognition that when the wife and husband get married they become one.

    My wife and I “meet” each Monday night and just review the budget. That way both of us are in sync with how much remains in each category.

    We do the budget together and agree on it. This in and of itself is a huge stress relief because when we can’t buy something we want, it’s nobodies fault but the budget. The budget is keeping us from spending, not one of us.

    I also very much agree with discussing your long term financial goals and getting in sync. I actually printed a copy our both of our goals off and carry them in my wallet where I keep my cash to remind me of our goals.

    Thanks again!

  7. Thanks so much for this post! I’m single, so in some ways I have it easier (I don’t have to discuss my decisions with anyone) and in some ways it’s more difficult (I don’t have the support of someone else working towards the same goal).
    Michelle Singletary writes the Personal Finance column for the Washington Post. She agrees about merging finances and lives. Money (though I would say more likely a breakdown in communication) is at the root of many divorces and separations. Singletary wrote a book called Your Money and Your Man and it deals with women’s finances through single life, dating, marriage and children.
    She has some other personal finance books out there. I like her style, but she is fairly socially conservative, so it may not be for everyone.

  8. I am the wife and I must say at the beginning there were tears (and that was just him 🙂 because I didn’t want to know about budgeting and planning. We were brought up differently so the challenge once married was reaching a common ground including our finances. I embrace budgeting now and Mr Finance doesn’t cry anymore.

  9. Hi,

    I found this article in your reveiew section and I am so glad I found it…My husband and I are constantly butting heads over how to budget me I like to know where the money is comming from and make sure it is there no credit wanted or needed he is more like just if it comes up it comes up…..We are constantly arguing over money. He dosn’t wnat to know and as far as he is concerned my system is to complicated because I have more then once bank account!

    I don’t see how hard it can be all I ask him to do is look it over and make sure i havn’t missed anything important or see if we need to increase in an area? He dosn’t like that Idea because it is too complicated for him.

    But it is so true it is a “I” way of marriage these day’s not a “we” marriage.

    I like to think we have a “we” marriage but when it comes to money it is left up to “I” which I really hate as I was never taught about money never learnt how to save or work on what I want…I am 34 5 kids (2 step 3 natural only two live with us) and I am struggleing now to show my kids the right way to handle money and to make sure they know that paying cash is a good thing not a bad as some see it in my family.

    It is blogs like yours that are helping me find my feet in the world of frugalism,debt free living and budgeting..and staying on track with our goals for the furture. Thank you

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